20 heads home to Birkenhead

It ran just five times with passengers but the loan of Birkenhead 20 to Blackpool is now officially over with the tram returning to its home town and the Birkenhead Heritage Tramway. 20 made the trip back to Merseyside on Wednesday 28th November – just over 16 months since it travelled the other way for the start of its loan period.

Of course, the whole saga of 20’s loan to Blackpool has been covered in depth in these pages so there is no need to go over old ground once again but we can cover a few facts and figures of this period in the tram’s life. Originally loaned to Blackpool to benefit both Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours (who would have had an additional open topper during a time of open tram shortage) and the Merseyside Tramway Preservation Society (with the tram due to receive workshop attention – which it did eventually) Birkenhead 20 arrived in Blackpool on 27th July 2017. Then following initial preparatory works 20 was first spied on Blackpool Prom on 15th August 2017 for the start of testing. Unfortunately, this testing didn’t prove successful and the tram was not cleared for service (also suffering slight damage during this period) and as such it remained at Rigby Road with it not being available to run or moved into the workshops.

20 eventually entered the Rigby Road workshops in the late summer/early autumn period of 2018 and once its received new tyres it started testing on the Blackpool Tramway again, albeit restricted to the section between Pleasure Beach and Bispham. It first ran with passengers on 18th October 2018 during a tour for members of the Merseyside Tramway Preservation Society. Three public days of service followed on 27th and 28th October and 3rd November before a farewell tour on behalf of British Trams Online ran on 7th November.

And that was that for Birkenhead 20 in Blackpool. Remaining stored in Rigby Road for a further three weeks before Scotts Heavy Haulage were on hand to transport the tram back to the Wirral where it was shunted back into Taylor Street by Hong Kong built tram 70.

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