In Pictures: Railcoach 279 restoration continues

Whilst the Coronavirus pandemic has caused a number of long-standing restoration and overhaul projects to be put on hold there is one high profile job which has been continuing – Blackpool Railcoach 279. It has to be said that the rate of progress on the tram is nothing short of outstanding with recent work included the external repanelling, really showing the shape of things to come.

The exterior is now fully repanelled with the new panels clearly identified as the few remaining sections not required repanelling remain in the old 1980s Green and Cream livery that the tram carried when last in service as 679. The difference in the tram now that it has all its panels in place is good to see and it does really start to increase the excitement of a time when the tram may return to service on Blackpool Promenade once more.

Other good news for the Fylde Transport Trust team is that the company contracted to make the windscreens has returned to work after lockdown and they are now working on these again whilst the company due to supply the corner windows have also now returned to business meaning these will also able to progress in the near future.

With the quality of the work which has been undertaken on the tram so far it really does give you something to look forward to and we are sure when 279 is launched back into service it will prove to a popular addition to the Blackpool Heritage Fleet.

* Railcoach 279 is one of the trams owned by the Fylde Tramsport Trust and as part of their continued fundraising attempts to help bring more trams and buses back into use they have recently launched a new book. The Fylde Transport Trust Collection does exactly what the title suggests – and takes a look at the trams and buses in the FTT collection, updating the status of each vehicle which includes the largest collection of Blackpool Trams owned by a charitable organisation in the UK. Costing £10 (with £8 going directly to the FTT) the book can be purchased through Videoscene.

Three images showing the fully panelled 279. Work on starting to undercoat the roof in green can also be seen. (All Photographs courtesy of Fylde Transport Trust)

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4 Responses to In Pictures: Railcoach 279 restoration continues

  1. malcolm says:

    There seems to be something odd about this restoration. The window positions are wrong. There should be a small window next to the centre door, and no blank pane next to the driver. The front curved windows don’t look quite right to me either. It seems that much of the good work done by Keith Terry and his gang is being undone.
    Does anyone know what’s going on?

    • Gareth Prior says:

      279 is an English Electric Railcoach and not a Brush Car. Whilst the two classes of tram are similar from a distance there are numerous differences between the two. The restoration of this tram to this condition only started relatively recently and should not be confused with Brush 298 which had some work undertaken at Mode Wheel before it was moved to Crich and subequently Clay Cross. The good news, though, is it is due back at Crich in the future for its restoration to be continued.

      I am sure there will be others who will confirm whether the window positions etc. are correct but I am sure the FTT team have undertaken thorough research to make sure it is all accurate!

  2. David Blake says:

    It is an interesting observation that Malcolm has made. The definitive streamlined Blackpool tram was probably, historically, the English Electric single-deck Railcoach but this was extinct in its original form by about 1974. The nearest survivors remained the twin set motor cars which had lost their distinctive pointed ends with twin windscreens to a flat fronted design for trailer car haulage. 279 (ex-679), a tram that so many of us have fond memories of, is the car that is going to relaunch the classic English Electric Railcoach design thanks to the amazing efforts of the Fylde Transport Trust. I understand it will retain some later modifications, but fundamentally this is a 1933 design although this particular car is a ‘Series Two’ Railcoach of 1935.

    It is also probably true to say that the Balloon double-deck cars, introduced from 1934, also had their roots in this design, and are now rated as a streamlined design classic in their own right and probably better known than the original Railcoaches as they had a much longer service life in their recognisably original form.

    Malcolm has spotted both the similarities and differences between the English Electric Railcoaches and the 20 later Brush Railcoaches of 1937 – the English Electric Railcoaches were originally much more numerous. I understand that they share the same designer who had moved to Brush by the time these cars were built, but English Electric retained the rights to the original design. So everything about the Brush cars is sort of on the same theme, but different in every detail!

    I am greatly looking forward to seeing 279 return to the rails as I haven’t seen an English Electric Railcoach since about 1971-72 when I was around 10 years old. There are some great updates on the FTT website.

    If you dig into that website a bit deeper, you will also find a link placed there some time ago by Andy Ashton who with his two daughters owned and restored Brush car 634 (ex 297) before generously donating it back to the Blackpool Heritage Trams Trust so that like 279, it could also re-enter service. The car 634 website offers a brilliant comparison between the features of the two types of Railcoach. Again, 634 is somewhat modified as well – only to be expected when these two trams had service lives of 69 and 67 years respectively (!) – but Andy and his team have clearly done wonders with the interior such as has never been seen on a Brush car for several decades. His website is well worth a look, and what a wonderful comparison these two trams will make when they are both operating on the Promenade once again.

    Congratulations and thanks to everyone involved with their restoration.

  3. malcolm says:

    You’re absolutely right, Gareth. I confused the numbers 279 and 298. I didn’t know that there was a parallel project involving an EE car. Apologies all round!