Whilst the events being held in Blackpool this year to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the town’s Brush Railcoach class have been greatly enjoyed, one thing that has definitely been missed is a Brush car in original ‘Art Deco’ condition. Sadly at present, none of the class are restored in anything like original condition – but that is something which the Tramway Museum Society are keen to address.
As has been reported previously on this site, Blackpool Brush Railcoach 298 is earmarked for major renovation in the Crich workshops in the fairly near future, with a possible start date of 2020 now being suggested – presumably to follow on from the reconstruction of London County Council 1. Peter Whiteley has already taken on a role as champion of the project, and has recently been keeping busy carrying out some research ahead of the practical restoration work being started.
So far, Peter has managed to obtain original images from Brush illustrating the construction of these trams, which should prove helpful with the restoration process. Design drawings for the underframe have also been found; as the trams have been rebuilt so much over the years, original plans will be required to create an authentic end result. Many photographs have also been taken of 298‘s existing underframe, as well as that of sister car 259, the former Permanent Way gang car which survives in a heavily stripped condition at Blackpool, these being the most original of the remaining Brush cars.
Finally, the various available documentation showing what work has been done to 298 so far has been uncovered. It will be recalled that a small team of enthusiasts led by Keith Terry spent many years carrying out extensive restoration work on the car in a number of different locations before it moved to Crich in 2005, although the work then stalled and 298 temporarily moved to Clay Cross for storage in 2014.
One of the biggest outstanding tasks will be to construct a brand new underframe to provide a solid base for 298, and it is likely that this job will be contracted out. Some years ago Blackpool Transport had offered to do this but it would appear that this will now be dealt with elsewhere. Whatever happens, the completion of this preservation project which started back in the 1970s is certainly something to look forward to, although even with a large sum of money allocated to this purpose, the Tramcar Sponsorship Organisation will be seeking further donations to assist with its completion.