Blackpool heritage workshop update

The Blackpool tram and bus workshops at Rigby Road have been a hive of activity in the last few weeks, with several small but exciting projects involving various heritage trams currently in progress. These involve Boat, Brush and Centenary cars, all of which should be back in action before the end of the summer.

Probably the most exciting project of all concerns Open Boat 602, which is now in the Paint Shop where it is believed to be in the early stages of receiving a new cream and red livery, loosely based on the pre-1930s Blackpool Corporation fleet colours. Having spent more than two decades painted in yellow and black, it will be a very welcome change to see this tram painted in a totally different colour scheme, and one that will be a first for the Boats as a class. As previously announced, it is intended to launch the new-look 602 over the August Bank Holiday weekend, when hopefully three Boat cars will run simultaneously in Blackpool for the first time since October 2009. Let’s just hope that the great British weather will play ball and allow this to happen!

602 has replaced Brush Railcoach 631 in the Paint Shop, which has recently received some further attention following its slightly rushed repaint earlier this year. It is hoped that this tram will also have its traditional lifeguards restored in place of the modern ‘blade’ lifeguards fitted when it was last overhauled in 1994/5, and in this revised guise the tram should soon be back in service.

Both of the Centenary cars remaining at Blackpool have also spent time in the works recently. The repaint of 648 into the stylish 1980s green and cream livery is now believed to be complete, and the tram is now undergoing some final preparatory work ahead of its planned debut for a Fylde Tramway Society tour on Saturday 20th July. More surprisingly, sister car 642 has also spent some time in the Fitting Shop and is now back inside the main depot. This tram suffered a motor defect during its heritage tour debut on May 26th, which is now thought to have been repaired despite initial suggestions that it probably wouldn’t run again. This could allow both 642 and 648 to run together in August… watch this space!

Once again, the energy and money being invested in the heritage tram fleet in Blackpool deserves to be applauded and hopefully the work on all of these trams will ensure their continued operation for many years to come.

A demic Centenary car 642 seen at Pleasure Beach on 26th May. After fears that this would be the car's last outing in Blackpool, chances of a reprieve are now looking much stronger. (Photo by Andrew Waddington)


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