2017 sees the 80th anniversary of Blackpool’s Brush Railcoach class, and to help mark this milestone anniversary it has been announced that pioneer car 621 is to be restored to service this year! The tram is currently stored in Rigby Road depot following its return from Beamish Museum, who kindly donated it to the Blackpool Heritage Trust at the end of last year, but it is set to undergo a transformation over the next few months.
621 last ran in passenger service way back in 2004 and since then has been stored at Rigby Road, Kirkham Prison (whilst owned by the Fleetwood Heritage Trust) and finally Beamish, before returning home in December 2016. This has presented the irresistible opportunity to restore the first Brush car built to an operational condition during its 80th year.
Although no work has been undertaken on 621 yet, the car has been assessed over a pit and it is believed that the required work can be completed in time for September’s tramway anniversary event (23rd and 24th September), when it is hoped to launch it back into service. The car has suffered during its time of inactivity, particularly during a few months when it was stored outside at Kirkham, but initial examination indicates that this is nothing too serious. The tram will require some attention to remedy water ingress and is likely to be fully re-panelled, whilst some missing glass will need to be replaced. However, the tram itself is largely complete with controllers, motors and bogies, as well as a full set of swing-over seats which will receive a new set of upholstered backs and cushions. Finally, the car will be repainted in the attractive 1950s style green and cream livery featuring elegant green side sweeps, similar to the livery now worn by Marton VAMBAC 11 at the East Anglia Transport Museum – a style which has never previously been recreated on a Brush car. This will be the first time that 621 has run in green and cream since it received an all-over advert for Interflora in 1995, replacing the 1990s livery style which it briefly carried immediately prior to this advert.
At this stage a full restoration to original condition is not possible, so the tram will retain some of its later modications such as single destination screens and modern glazing, but these may well be attended to at a later date. However, to have 621 running again after so long in its 80th year will be a great achievement, especially in a livery not seen in Blackpool for some fifty years!
This project is being financially supported by the Blackpool Tram Shop and Trams Magazine. However, the tram will not carry any external advertising, meaning that its traditional green and cream livery will be totally unspoilt. A new Facebook page has been set up to document progress on the renovation work on car 621 and it will also be covered in detail by both the aforementioned publication and the Blackpool Tram DVD series.