Picture in Time: Blackpool Coronation 664

Normally in our Picture in Time series we see a tram either in service or resting in between duties but for our latest instalment we head to Rigby Road bus yard for a view of Blackpool Coronation 664 which was getting ready for a date, a date with the scrapman.

Carrying the Half Green, Half Cream livery with orange trolley tower 664 had been withdrawn at the start of October 1971 and when this photograph was taken in July 1972 the tram only had three months left before scrapping which was to take place in October 1972. Destination blinds have already been removed and the windscreen also seems to be missing but many of the other visible fixtures and fittings still seem to be in situ. 664 is joined in this waiting area by another of the unlucky Coronation Cars which was due to be scrapped.

Photograph by Bob Hodges

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7 Responses to Picture in Time: Blackpool Coronation 664

  1. David Butterworth says:

    I was always of the opinion that the virtual wholesale scrapping of the class was a mistake. Surely the Z cars should have been kept and maybe modified, with chopper control or something similar.

    Also it is a pity that the class is unrepresented on the Heritage Service, for the second year running. I realize that several attempts have been made to get 304 running but haven’t been successful. Maybe time to call in an expert – if there is such a thing!

  2. Dave says:

    Give them some credit! Its now down to money. The ‘experts’ have been consulted and it must now await funding. Personally I think 660 is much more useful as it is Z4 fitted and therefore much more useful on the short low speed service on Blue service. It also needs much less work I believe!

    • David Butterworth says:

      660 is in need of a major overhaul of its bogies; something not done since 1975! The bearings are worn out judging by the groaning sounds it made when last I rode on the tram. I would imagine the cost could be well over £10,000, similar to the cost of doing Box 40. Also there is an ongoing problem with its air operated doors, so more cost would be involved.

      Incidentally, my comments over 304 weren’t meant as criticism; the engineers have tried to find the fault, so deserve credit. Considering the expensive costs incurred when 304 was renovated and the VAMBAC repaired , it seems to have gone faulty quite soon after, even with its limited use. The question of money has not been raised to my knowledge, but you may have a point.
      304 is the only true Coronation as we all know; the Z4s were never in the same class as regards performance. They were sluggish by comparison.

  3. John Fisher says:

    If the trucks under 304 are in better condition, perhaps they could be rolled under 660. At least one of the cars could run, better than having two duffers sat doing nothing at the back of the depot. At least 660 doesnt suffer from the complexities of an unreliable control system.

  4. nostalgicyetprogressive says:

    Apart from the unreliable VAMBAC equipment, a major stumbling block with the Coronation Cars was their sheer weight – approx. 20 tons. Not only did this make them energy inefficient, but increased wear and tear on the tracks. I seem to recall that this was one of the reasons this class of tram was not considered suitable for conversion to pay-the-driver vehicles, with the much underused E E Railcoaches being chosen instead. However, it did seem likely the Joseph Franklin had intended to retain the five cars which remained at the end of 1972.

    I get the impression that maintenance of the bogies was quite a challenge – 655, 661 and 663 suffered from noticeable rattling at this time, with 661 being particularly severe. 665 and 661 were in good working order (655, excellent) and were the last two available for general service after Derek Hyde, who came to office in 1974, decided to dispose of the remaining cars in order to draw a line under the whole unfortunate episode. 660 and 663 were in store together with 641 (304) awaiting preservation (660, of course as a heritage car in the Blackpool fleet). I think the main problem was the need to use a special press to refit tyres to the resilient wheels, which was due to the rubber wedges used for noise reduction.

    Given that these problems still exist in the three Coronation Cars currently within the Blackpool Heritage Fleet and the need to progress special projects such as 143 and the refurbishment of invaluable trams such as 706, I expect that the resources of Rigby Road are more economically efficient when employed on the latter. To be fair too, 143 and others like 279 have been on hold for nearly seven years and really do deserve priority. Time maybe to put the ‘Spivs’ to the back of the queue, especially as they have enjoyed such prominence in recent years and let other trams have their turn, which in some cases is long overdue.

  5. David Butterworth says:

    I am informed that an expert who has dealt with and worked on Vambac cars has found and fixed the problem.

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