Since its return to Blackpool almost a year ago after a highly successful and popular loan period at Beamish Museum, not much has been seen or heard of Standard car 147. On its return it was decided to carry out some extensive cosmetic work on the tram, including its first total repaint for twelve years to restore it to an immaculate appearance – as befits one of the flagships of the heritage tram fleet!
Unfortunately progress has been slower than was hoped by many, partly due to the need to complete major work on Brush Railcoach 621 in time for last September’s anniversary events. With this project completed, attention could return to 147 which has spent an extended period of time in the Paint Shop.
Close examination of the bodywork revealed some areas of body rot, leading to the decision not to rush the tram through the works, but instead to take the time to undertake a more thorough job. This has also seen the tram receive a brand new set of ruby quarter glasses to replace several which had been damaged and subsequently replaced with clear glass over the years; this process was overseen by Peter Watts, who as well as being an expert on destination blinds is also involved with the glass industry. How fortunate! Help was also sought from the Ffestinog Railway’s Boston Lodge workshop, where a set of new strap hangars for the lower saloon have been produced to replace the rather ugly plastic hangars fitted to the car following its restoration in 2002. A new mould was created using a suitable hangar from the collection of Rod Bramley, which originated from a Sheffield tramcar. With leather straps now fitted, these look absolutely superb and will greatly improve 147‘s interior appearance. It is also pleasing to note that a further set of strap hangars and ruby glass has also been purchased for fitting to sister car 143 to help with the completion of its own restoration to original 1924 condition, hopefully to be seen within the fairly near future.
Repainting of 147 is now at an advanced stage and hopefully this much-loved tram will be available for service again early in the 2018 season, and it should then see regular use on heritage duties for the rest of the year, and hopefully this investment in it will keep it running in a smart condition for many more years to come.