Once a major player in the UK tramway preservation scene but seldom mentioned here in the last few years, the Lancastrian Transport Trust has been re-branded as the Fylde Transport Trust – a new name to apparently better reflect the organisation’s current aims and future goals.
The saga of the LTT and its tram fleet was a very messy one at around the time of the Blackpool tramway upgrade, and seemed to have been resolved in 2013, when the majority of the trams which the Trust had collected were returned to Rigby Road under the custodianship of Blackpool Transport, pending permanent transfer into the resident heritage fleet. These included several unique and valuable cars, including OMO 8, the partly-restored Standard 143, the only VAMBAC-equipped Coronation car 304, and the illuminated Rocket 732. Although only one of the LTT cars is currently active – Balloon 715 - the collection offers huge potential for the future of the heritage operation.
The Trust and at least one of its key personnel have already been getting involved with the recent work on Standard 143, restarting a restoration project which was largely carried out by the LTT around a decade ago. They also have a number of other projects in the pipeline focusing on some historic local buses.
The FTT has already launched a new Facebook page which makes it clear that the LTT trams are still being viewed as their own, and separate to the rest of the Blackpool heritage fleet. As the LTT/FTT is already set up as a registered charity, this could open up some very useful avenues to new funding opportunities – but on the flip side of the coin, many enthusiasts are extremely wary of this organisation and some of its main players following bad experiences in the past. Need we remind anyone of the situation involving Open Boat 605 which was sold for export to San Francisco after being sponsored by British Trams Online during its loan period at Beamish Museum, but has barely run at all since leaving the UK? Hopefully nothing so dramatic will ever be allowed to happen again, but for some of us, actions speak louder than words and it will be difficult for the parties involved to provide reassurance that the trams involved are indeed safe to stay in Blackpool on a permanent basis.