Having already borrowed two preserved tramcars for 2017, Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours have now revealed that they will shortly be getting a third! Blackpool Brush Railcoach 630 is the latest tram to be confirmed to be heading to the seaside. The tram will be attending the ‘Brush 80’ celebrations which will take place over the now annual September anniversary weekend, meaning that all of the operational members of this class will be temporarily reunited.
630 last ran in Blackpool during the 2011 illuminations before it was withdrawn to be repainted in its 1995 livery, reflecting its appearance when freshly overhauled – as befits its status as the last, and most extensively modernised of the type. It then moved to Crich in December that year, entering service in May 2012, and it has enjoyed fairly regular use at the museum since then. However, the car will shortly be returning home to rejoin its sisters for the milestone 80th anniversary of the Brush cars, and is expected to be one of the star attractions (and there are quite a few now!) on the major event weekend, on 23rd & 24th September. This is held annually on the closest weekend to the date when the promenade tramway was opened in 1885, but this year’s event will feature the Brush Railcoaches heavily to recognise their 80 years of service. As such, it is highly appropriate that 630 will be present to represent the ultimate modernisation of this classic British design, as a welcome contrast with the more traditional appearance of sister car 623, which is currently on loan from the Heaton Park Tramway.
The offer of 630 to visit Blackpool is a very kind gesture from the Tramway Museum Society and is naturally very much appreciated by Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours. The tram will be staying in Blackpool over winter, which will provide a useful heater-fitted car for operation on heritage service duties, and also will mean that Crich have one less tram to find space for whilst their depot roof is being replaced! So in all, a highly beneficial arrangement that will hopefully bring much pleasure and attract even more interest in the September festivities.
It is also worth noting that 630‘s visit will bring the number of Brush cars at Rigby Road up to nine – 621, 623, 630 & 631 either have operated during or will do so by the end of 2017, whilst 259, 632 & 634 are all stored awaiting workshop attention, with 290 and 625 also stored on behalf of their own respective owners. In addition, the illuminated Trawler 737 and Rail Crane 260 were built from the remnants of two withdrawn Brush cars – with so many old friends present again it feels almost like the light rail upgrade never happened!