In Pictures: Brush cars bring 2017 to a close for the heritage fleet

The last public operation by the heritage trams in Blackpool consisted of three ‘Santa Special’ running days on Saturdays 9th, 16th & 23rd December. However, that wasn’t quite the end of the year for the heritage fleet as on 30th December, the Fylde Tramway Society hired two Brush cars for its annual Christmas tram tour.

The chosen trams for this year’s tour were Brush Railcoaches 623 & 630 - chosen to bring a suitable close to the year in which this popular class celebrated 80 years of service, with these two being selected to capitalise on their loan periods back in Blackpool. The duo first headed to North Pier to collect their eager passengers shortly before midday and initially ran together, before splitting up and running solo for a few hours. During this time 623 was unusually parked up at Fleetwood Ferry for its crew lunch break, whilst 630 ran onto the centre track at Bispham from the southbound running line and stabled there for lunch. Both cars then ran individually to Starr Gate, this being 630‘s first visit to the southern extremity of the tramway since 2009! The pair later reunited for a last run to Fleetwood, before heading back to North Pier in darkness, where they unloaded and ran back to the depot empty.

So that was it, the grand finale of 2017 for Blackpool’s heritage tram tours. It had been a challenging year in many regards, but one with plenty of highlights, especially connected with the Brush car anniversary, making it particularly appropriate that two of the type were the last heritage cars to run that year. Both trams are expected to see further use on the upcoming winter running days, before returning to their active retirement homes at Manchester and Crich.

During the early part of the FTS Christmas Tour, Brush cars 630 & 623 pose side by side at Pleasure Beach before heading north.

630's first run to Starr Gate since its return to Blackpool, and the first time in the modern era, was caught on camera as the tram waits to depart.

In fading light, 623 was also captured at Starr Gate. Note that, somewhat unusually, the trams displayed regular destinations during this tour rather than 'Private' or 'Reserved', as is more normal in these circumstances. (All photos by Rob Bray)

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