New role for ex-Blackpool Replica Vanguard

Heaton Park 7 – still best known to many people as Blackpool Replica Vanguard 619 – is set to take on yet another new guise on a temporary basis. The tram has already had an eventful history, having been built on the underframe of Blackpool OMO car 7, itself a former English Electric Railcoach, and since arriving in Manchester it has swapped its Fleetwood Tramroad livery for a more striking red and cream colour scheme.

Car 7 has been out of service throughout 2012 as it has been boarded up and stored outside due to a lack of space in the small tram depot at Heaton Park, which has been its home since it left Blackpool in June 2010. However, it is still able to move under its own power, and now, the need for a suitable tram to assist with the ongoing track work at Lakeside, and the imminent construction of a new depot, has led to 7 being selected for use as the tramway’s new works car! With Blackpool Railgrinder 752 currently stored at Bury the most practical option was to use one of the trams already on site, and to ensure that the other three trams remain in good condition for passenger use, 7 was the chosen one. Rest assured, this will only be a temporary measure and it is still intended that the tram will be made available for passenger service again next summer. In fact, using the car in this role may actually be beneficial as the increased use it will see should mean that preparing it for service again next year will be an easier task.

To prepare 7 for works car duties, it is planned to fit a hinged flap over the windscreens so as to protect the glass from possible vandalisation, whilst also offering clear vision when it is in operation. A number of seats are also expected to be removed. Commissioning the car for use shouldn’t be too challenging as it has stood up remarkably well to its period of outside storage, and indeed by performing an engineering role, it will actually be helping to get a roof over itself once again!

Of course many Blackpool trams have been converted into works cars over the years and 7 is merely continuing this long-running tradition, although thankfully it should not have to wait too long before it can return to more glamorous duties at Heaton Park.

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