Spring 2013 return planned for Blackpool 680

The Heaton Park Tramway have announced a provisional launch date for the next new addition to its fleet of operating trams, Blackpool Ex-Towing Railcoach 680. Subject to the completion of the new Lakeside depot and any necessary commissioning work, 680 is due to be launched into service at its new home on Sunday 24th March 2013, kick-starting what should be another exciting year for Manchester’s preserved tramway.

680‘s entry into service will doubtless be welcomed with open arms by many enthusiasts, as this car has not carried passengers since 2008. However, it has remained fully intact and mobile since then, and during 2010 it was repainted into all-over cream, inspired by the livery it carried upon rebuilding with flat ends in the 1960s, when it was modified to haul a trailer as part of the Twin car programme. The tram is now the last of the sold cars left at Rigby Road, but as soon as undercover accomodation becomes available at Heaton Park it should depart to begin the next chapter of its long and succesful life.

To add further novelty value, it is planned that 680 will operate at the park with a pantograph for one day only to co-incide with its launch. This will unfortunately restrict it to running on the double track only, but on the plus side, this means that any photographs of the tram taken on this day will probably be unreapeatable. Soon afterwards, the car will be fitted with a trolley arm and enter regular service in Manchester, alongside other ex-Blackpool trams such as Brush Railcoach 623 and Replica Vanguard 7. 680 will duly become the first English Electric Railcoach to operate on a museum line, and with sister car 678 currently in a poor condition and destined for display in Fleetwood, it could well become the only Ex-Towing car ever to operate outside Blackpool!

680‘s launch is just one of several potentially exciting events proposed at the Heaton Park Tramway for 2013, with a good mix of events aimed at enthusiasts and families, including teddy bear and pirate themed days. 24th March will also commemorate 80 years since the last tram ran on Middleton Road in the first generation era of the city’s tramways. Clearly the new depot is going to have a huge impact on the activities of this tramway, and 2013 looks set to be one of their most eventful years to date.

Blackpool 680 pictured reversing at Cabin during 2008; its last year of service at Blackpool. Since then the drab blue colour has been replaced by an equally plain but more stylish cream livery. (Photo by Tony Waddington)


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8 Responses to Spring 2013 return planned for Blackpool 680

  1. Nev Sloper says:

    Never been to Heaton Park but will certainly have to fix that next year.

  2. David Taylor says:

    Let us hope they paint it in Manchester red. It has got to be better than the blue that makes it look sad with those ceverons. Or perhaps it was supposed to be a corporal in the American airforce. Most blackpool trams seem to improve in image once repainted from the green and cream.

    • Gareth Prior says:

      The tram has already been repainted cream as mentioned in the article.

    • Ken walker says:

      The cream livery of these vehicles when rebuilt as hauling cars was light and airy and suited them well. Heaton park has enough red trams with Manchester 765, Stockport 5 and the fake red livery of the replica Vanguard car! I should think that with the investment work currently taking place at Heaton Park the last thing they will want is the unnecessary expense of applying another livery to a car which has only recently been repainted

  3. Jack Esson says:

    If 680 goes to Heaton Park, will another tram have to leave?
    623 and 680 are fully enclosed and could be stored outside.
    If 623 takes 7’s place outside and 680 goes next to it, 7 could go in the depot.
    This would mean that exposed trams 5, 7 and 765 were kept dry in the rain.
    When the Lakeside Depot is finished all 5 trams could stay there along with Heaton Park owned trams 6, 23, L53, 173, 280, 702, 708 and 752.

    • Martin Bryan says:

      Hi Jack

      680 will not be coming until the new depot is built. The new depot will be able to contain 6 Blackpool size trams, more in some of these are smaller 4 wheelers.
      7, 702, 708 and 752 will all move undercover at this point as will 280 and Leeds 6. L53 is on loan to the Bury Transport museum and there are no immediate plans for it to return, likewise 173 is undergoing restoration in the Manchester Museum of Transport and there are no immediate plans for it to come to the park. 23 will not move undercover until its restoration begins.

      Also can I please say Thank you to everyone for their kind words about the work we do at Heaton Park, it really does make our hard work feel appreciated.

      Martin Bryan
      MTMS Guard Trainer & Committee Member

  4. Ken Walker says:

    This will be a major development for the Heaton Park tramway with the number of trams present obviously set to more than double once the new depot is ready for action, a far cry from the early days when the museum had 2 trams and only the present double track section! Full credit is due to those responsible for the steady development of the museum and running line. And while we are on the subject of justified praise, congratulations to Gareth & Co on the 10th anniversary of the website, which I am sure is valued by many.

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