Former Fleetwood Heritage Leisure Trust trams continue to seek new homes

Last year came the news that the Fleetwood Heritage Leisure Trust were disbanding their collection after their efforts to establish a visitor attraction in the town featuring the trams eventually came to nothing. At the time all seven of the trams under their auspices were made available for other interested parties but so far just one – Trailer Car T7/687 – has departed although there have been expressions of interest for three of the others trams.

The six remaining trams are Brush Car 290 (the only one of the trams not in storage at Wyre Dock with this remaining at Rigby Road), Brush Car 637, Centenary Car 641, Twin Car 673+683, Railcoach 678 and Balloon 710. Its not been revealed as to which three of these trams have had interest in them (and the article on the Tramtalk website mentions seven trams which presumably splits the Twin Car into two so it could be that just two complete trams have had interest in them) but the FHLT are hopeful that agreements can be concluded shortly for these vehicles. Of these trams 637 is not owned by the Trust.

Regardless of any agreements, the site at Wyre Dock is required by developers later this year so the trams will have to move – whether that is to a brighter future or not.

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18 Responses to Former Fleetwood Heritage Leisure Trust trams continue to seek new homes

  1. nostalgicyetprogressive says:

    Of all the trams at Wyre Dock, I firmly believe that priority should be given to providing a secure future for 710. Apart from it’s former TV fame, as with all Balloons it should be considered a priceless asset to any organisation operating heritage trams. It always seems such a pity when a Balloon is lost, especially recalling how 716 was allowed simply to ‘fade’ away, so that not even parts for future maintenance were able to be acquired. Of course, it would also provide a good deal of interest were 641 also to be preserved, being the original prototype Centenary Car. However, the remaining trams with the possible exception of 673-683 could prove extremely useful as providers of parts for maintaining currently running similar examples.

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      I’ve shared my thoughts on 710 before and don’t particularly wish to retread that path, but I do certainly agree with the suggestions that it would have been a good themed static exhibit somewhere (not necessarily a tram museum!).

      I think too many people still look at the heritage trams as a means of getting from A to B. If that were still the case, then yes, more Balloons would be needed, but its not! As Peter Watts rightly says, variety is the way to go. Yes, high capacity cars and crowd pleasers should take priority (e.g. 706) but a proper collection of Blackpool trams such as Brush, Coronation, OMO and Centenary cars is what is really needed and wanted.

      Its worth pointing out that 716 had already been robbed of many parts long before it left Blackpool, some of which assisted with the heritage refurbishment of 717 – so it had already helped in terms of donating spares before it was sold.

  2. Steve_Hyde says:

    But surely there are more than enough balloon cars already saved to satisfy even the most ardent Blackpool enthusiast. 710’s brief appearance in a soap opera hardly qualifies it for immortality and as I have said before such duplication dilutes scarce resources. By all mans dismantle it for spares to keep other already safe cars maintained.

  3. John1 says:

    In an ideal world 710 would be displayed with waxworks and be the centrepiece of a Trams in the media/Trams on TV display. Sadly I think this is pie in the sky. Perhaps that would have been better for Crich to have had than 712. Hindsight is great! Its amazing 30+ years later people comment on in and ask the crews in Blckpool Did this kill Alan Bradley?
    Trams were got rid of with haste which it later transpired wasn’t necessary.

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      I always thought 710 should have gone to Crich, also due to its history with them due to its visit in 1984-5. I believe it was dismissed due to the poor condition of its underframe, but considering that 712 is a non-runner and would probably receive a complete rebuild if it was ever to run at Crich, that seems a rather weak argument!

  4. nostalgicyetprogressive says:

    Of course, scarce resources includes the all-important depot space, which is far better used by a higher capacity vehicle, thereby increasing revenue potential per area occupied. A Balloon takes up roughly the same space as a Railcoach, but at a top capacity of 94 almost doubles what the single deck tram can provide. Given that fact, it rather begs the question whether say a Brush Car could be displaced by an extra Balloon (especially in the case of Rigby Road which contains quite a few Brush Cars), thus gaining 46 extra seats overall passenger potential, for the same premises overheads. Remember that occasions such as Tram Sunday require a substantial output of Balloon Cars with good revenue earning potential whenever this popular event is well attended.

    • Chris Callan says:

      This would the Tram Sunday so financially lucrative it didn’t even make the line-up of “Vintage Weekends” in 2022 relying instead on just “enhanced tours”. The loadings were far from impressive vast majority of the day in 2017/18/9 with the Flexities doing most of the heavy lifting as usual… The likes of 713/718 thrown out did little to develop the “heritage” brand or indeed attract public riding in previous years. People seem to have forgotten it piled up and down during large spells devoid of actual passengers (minus about to enthusiasts wedged on it)

      • John1 says:

        TS Heritage has always been overkill since 2015 and after the first couple of years very lightly used. It should have continued in the mould of return journeys to Thornton Gate using boats and Vintage. They were nearly always full.

    • steve hyde says:

      Rigby Road depot is host to a fair number of old trams many of which will probably never be used. After spending goodness knows how long stored outside, 710 will need thousands of pounds spent on it before it can assist in providing capacity on the annual event you mention. For far less expenditure all 4 traction motors in 143 and 147 could be fully overhauled to allow them to fulfill that role alongside the balloons already serviceable.

      • John1 says:

        I can’t argue with that. 147 should have its motors and troublesome low voltage sorted. It was supposed to be the flagship car once!

  5. Peter Watts says:

    Just a little precision on the first comment made by nostalgicyetprogressive. Balloon 716 did not “fade” away, and was actually the subject of several rescue attempts, one by myself. The aim was in fact to buy it to strip for spares etc, but there were several interested parties in buying the tram, including one foreign bid. Unfortunately the seller was messed around with one buyer who backed out at the last moment, and due to time constraints the tram had to be moved one way or another very quickly, and it was sighted in a local scrapyard (although never confirmed fully).

    In terms of later comments regarding the capacity of Balloons versus other trams, if we all followed this approach then let’s kick out the Coronations, Brush cars, OMO 8 and fill the depot with a fleet of Balloon trams. Of course such a thing is never going to happen, and a balanced Heritage fleet is what is required. There are other Balloons in Rigby Road waiting for restoration which are in better condition than 710. As John1 mentions, this would have been good in a themed static setting, but again resources are against such things at the moment.

    Future restorations will only become more expensive, as an example any tram requiring a new underframe will now see costs raise by almost triple, as steel prices over the last 2 years have multiplied by 2.5 and show little signs of slowing down.

  6. nostalgicyetprogressive says:

    I have to say that it’s really a matter of Brush Cars being too numerous at Rigby Road – the three operational examples must be sufficient and maybe 621 could regain its twin destination blinds and return to late 1970s condition which was closer to being authentic and indeed looked the part viewed end on.

    I recall that Bryan Lindop expressed interest in recreating an authentic ‘Luxury Dreadnought’ without the additions seen on 706 (wonder how soon this will return to service – keenly and somewhat impatiently anticipated). All available ex Open Top Streamliners either have porches/ flat ends or a special desirable character of their own (such as 701 being the iconic Routemaster Balloon and 704 becoming a 60s style Balloon). Maybe 710 would be the ideal candidate for such a restoration and shares could be sold (as with 715) to raise money for such a project. Holding the tangible acknowledgement of a certificate could well encourage generosity. Of course such a fund-raising event would need simply to provide the donor with a frameable document rather than promise rewards which in the end cannot be or are not actually delivered as with some more ambitious appeals in the past. It would be a shame if 710 were lost for the want of at least trying.

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      I do agree with you about the number of Brush cars, but don’t forget that only one is actually a BTS car (631), and that 625 & 627 are merely being stored at Rigby Road for other organisations and don’t feature in any plans for the heritage operation. That said, less Brush cars doesn’t have to mean more Balloons!

      I’d seriously challenge the idea that 701 is ‘iconic’ – it would be my first choice for an open top restoration actually. Don’t forget about 703 as well. 708 could even be a contender if the MTMS agreed to sign it over.

      • steve hyde says:

        Did you mean to refer to 710 rather than 701 Andrew when talking about ‘iconic’?

        • Andrew Waddington says:

          No, I did mean 701 in reply to nostalgicyetprogressive’s comment ‘such as 701 being the iconic Routemaster Balloon’. I would not consider 701 remotely close to being an iconic tram, certainly not in its current condition.

    • John1 says:

      I’m not sure where you get 3 operational Brush cars from. 621 and 631. 634 is nowhere near operational.

  7. Fylde Transport Trust says:

    As mentioned by Andrew, trams 621 & 634 are part of the Fylde Transport Trust collection and Blackpool Heritage Tours only have 631 which is operational. Just to clarify the reply from John1, rather than being “nowhere near operational”, 634 is actually in the last stages of the recommissioning phase of its restoration and should be cleared for service later in 2022.

    For official updates on the FTT’s trams and their restorations, do not hesitate to follow our FaceBook page or contact us directly through our web page at as we are more than happy to share upto date (and correct!) information about our trams.

  8. nostalgicyetprogressive says:

    The work undertaken on 634 must indeed be applauded. It not only largely recreates an iconic advertisement livery, perfect for Ghost Tram tours, but is educational in that many of the original internal features of that tram have been restored, giving it a traditional feel from the viewpoint of the passenger. It’s return to service is keenly anticipated and it will provide another tram of interest for any celebrations of the Blackpool & Fleetwood Tramroad 125th Anniversary next year.

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