Following its recent return to Blackpool on loan from the Heaton Park Tramway for its 80th anniversary year, Brush Railcoach 623 has now entered service back on its original home tramway for the first time since November 2009. The tram was officially launched back into service with an evening outing for enthusiasts on Friday 14th July, and it was then used on heritage service over the next two days.
623 has received some attention in the Rigby Road workshops which seems to have done it the world of good; despite having experienced a few problems in the past few years with poor reliability, the tram ran faultlessly for three consecutive days and impressed many people with its superb performance. Indeed, it almost felt as though it had never been away! Less well received was the new ‘double deck’ trolley tower, fitted to enable a pantograph to reach the overhead wires without removing the short tower it acquired at Heaton Park, which would potentially affect the roof sealant. However, this one negative point seems to have been more than made up for by the beautiful smooth running and the smart wartime livery, a style much missed on the Blackpool tramway in the last few years.
623‘s launch tour on Friday 14th July commenced from outside the heritage tram depot in the late afternoon and took the Brush car to Fleetwood twice, with the first visit followed by a full length run through to Starr Gate. Attendance on this tour was rather disappointing, however over the following two days the tram proved extremely popular. Saturday 15th saw 623 make its debut on heritage service with an adventurous eight-car service, offering a heritage tram to Fleetwood every twenty minutes for much of the day, which attracted a lot of extra custom in spite of poor weather. 623 was then out again for the Fleetwood Festival of Transport on Sunday 16th, when it carried the various dignitaries to the event in the morning, and then ran in tandem with Ex-Towing Railcoach 680 (another tram on loan from Heaton Park!) for the rest of the day. By the end of the weekend, 623 had notched up eight journeys to Fleetwood, four of which were turned short at Fisherman’s Walk during the Sunday event, and the rest continued to the Ferry – not bad going at all and a timely reminder of the quality of the Brush cars!