The loan of Marton Box 31 back to Blackpool officially came to an end on Monday 13th March, when the tram left the seaside town on the back of a Calkeld’s low loader for its long road journey back to Beamish. The tram had stayed in the resort for just over one year and has proved immensely popular when used on the heritage service.
31 was used extensively in Blackpool following its launch into service last Easter, until its final outing which was on 5th November when it was employed on the two-car promenade ‘blue’ service alongside Box 40. Since then the tram has been stored in Rigby Road depot but, on the morning of 13th March, it was towed out onto Blundell Street to be loaded up for its journey home. The loading process was completed with the usual level of professionalism and during the morning, Marton 31 bid farewell to Blackpool bringing its third spell of operation back in the town since entering preservation to a close.
On arrival back at Beamish it is understood that 31 will be assessed to determine whether it requires any work before it can be recommissioned for further service at the museum; it is expected to require new tyres in the near future but may be allowed to run in the meantime.
31‘s return to Beamish of course means that Standard 147 - the other tram involved in a 12 month exchange deal – will be able to return to Blackpool, and presumably it will provide the return load. It is expected to be prepared for use ahead of the main running season and is likely to be kept busy, as one of the flagship cars in the heritage fleet. Although in some respects it may have been preferable for 31 to remain in Blackpool and for 147 to stay at Beamish for longer, as each car was extremely useful in these locations, it will be good to see both trams back on home turf. However the loans have created many happy memories and hopefully promoted the two organisations to a wider audience.