Brush 623 to head home for Brush Car 80 celebrations

The 80th anniversary of the Brush Railcoaches is set to be celebrated in style with the news that two time winner of the British Trams Online Tram of the Year contest, 623 is to return home to Blackpool later this year for a loan period of operation. 623, which left Blackpool back in 2010 and has been running at the Heaton Park Tramway in Manchester since 2012, will make the relatively short journey to Blackpool later this year with the hope that it will enter service over the Tram Sunday weekend in July.

623, originally numbered 286, entered service in Blackpool in July 1937 and remained in service until 8th November 2009. Towards the end of its career on its home tramway it underwent a popular repaint into the Wartime Green and Cream livery and was often seen in use on the Tram Driving Experience. Acquired for preservation by the Manchester Transport Museum Society, operators of the Heaton Park Tramway, 623 departed Rigby Road Depot exactly seven years ago today on 6th May 2010. Initially it went on display at the Museum of Museums (alongside Balloon 702) before heading to Heaton Park where it entered service on 22nd January 2012. Although it spent all of 2016 out of service 623 returned to service at the Manchester Transport Museum Society 50th Anniversary event at the start of April 2017.

2017 marks the 80th anniversary of the Brush Railcoach and Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours intend to celebrate this special birthday in style. Refurbished 631 is already firmly established as part of the heritage fleet and it is planned that pioneer 621 will also be available for service from September following its Trams Magazine sponsored overhaul which has recently commenced in the workshops at Rigby Road. The visit of 623 will now be the icing on the cake providing a third member of the class in service.

The exact date of its departure from Manchester has yet to be revealed but it is hoped that it will be launched back into use in July. The centrepiece of the Brush Car 80 celebrations will be over the Tram Sunday weekend (15th/16th July) and the Tramway Anniversary Spectacular weekend in September.

The loan of 623 continues to cement the excellent relationships enjoyed by the UK’s heritage tramways and this will be the second tram owned by the MTMS to run in Blackpool this year (Ex-Towing Railcoach 680 remains on loan).

On 2nd April 623 returned to service at Heaton Park following a year out of use. It is seen here on that day running through the wooded section of the tramway.

623 last ran in Blackpool in 2009 and is seen here on 10th September of that year resting at Fleetwood Ferry whilst being used for Tram Driving Experience. (Both Photographs by Gareth Prior)

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8 Responses to Brush 623 to head home for Brush Car 80 celebrations

  1. Micky says:

    Personally I’d rather they had brought something ‘Brush made’ to help celebrate, though choices are limited. Whilst this is great I can’t help wonder if a horde of Brush cars will only appeal to the enthusiasts – certainly I’m hoping Tram Sunday has only one running – that event needs variety and capacity and is usually devoid of enthusiasts!
    What it does highlight is the willingness to continue the great relationship and long may that continue. 619 next maybe?

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      I have wondered the same thing to be honest, but hopefully the enthusiast community will appreciate the efforts being made to create a really special occasion and maybe some will respond with their wallets – well we can but hope!!! ;-) In all seriousness, whilst a different Brush-built tram would be fantastic, I’m not sure what could have come; Wallasey 78 has only just been restored to running order after fairly major works and I believe low bridges near Birkenhead may have created problems in getting an enclosed double decker out. Likewise, Crich probably wouldn’t risk sending one due to fear of tree damage in transit – although I would dearly love to see Chesterfield 7 on the prom!

  2. Paul D says:

    As a tram crew member at both Blackpool and Heaton Park, I am absolutely delighted to see the continued cooperation between the two tramways.
    I am totally in support of as much interchange of vehicles as is practical between all the UK heritage tramways – granted 623 doesn’t quite have the same appeal to the general public as 31 did last year, but it does keep things fresh and interesting for us enthusiasts!
    I would think it is a pretty safe bet that other trams including the obvious such as 619 and possibly a few unexpected ones will visit Blackpool in the coming years and that other trams from the Blackpool fleet and elsewhere will visit the Park.

  3. David Butterworth says:

    Good to see that a ‘wartime’ liveried tram will grace the rails at Blackpool. This livery has not been seen since 2009, when 700 was butchered, with the addition of those dreadful ‘porches’ and its purple livery, but we all know about that and who was responsible! Sorry for going on, but it was my favourite tram.

    • Micky says:

      Perhaps David you had rather it had been scrapped? originally 717 or 700 was to be retained outside of the fat door programme. This way it will be retained and used and then one day go back to how it was.

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      Yes the person(s) responsible for ensuring that 700 wasn’t scrapped and remained on its home tramway instead of being left to rot in a field should be hung, drawn and quartered! ;-)

      I do love the wartime livery though and it looks fantastic on 623. Rather than fret over things that aren’t even relevant to this topic, let’s celebrate the fact it was preserved in this livery and is now able to return home for us all to enjoy!

      *The above post was typed whilst sipping from my half-full glass!*

      • Micky says:

        As 718 is getting a fleet livery I wonder if 700 could regain its wartime colours…….

        • Andrew Waddington says:

          I suppose its not out of the question – but I’d rather see a tram that needs painting done instead personally. 700 hasn’t seen that much use since its last repaint to warrant another, whereas 718 really was crying out for some colour on it!

          That said, if anyone wants to pay for 700 to be painted green, bring it on…