Motors fitted to Standard 143 – now let the testing commence!

Its been the news that seemed as it may never happen but whisper it quietly, Blackpool Standard 143 may finally fully enter passenger service this year with its failed motor having been replaced over the past few months. Static testing is now underway ahead of a full program of on the move testing and then an entry into service on the Blackpool Tramway later this year.

As many of you remember this won’t be the first launch into passenger service for Standard 143 since the completion of its restoration as it was originally launched on Monday 23rd September 2019. Unfortunately, during this launch run it suffered a motor fault and had to be towed back to depot by Engineering Car 754 part way through its first night back out. Aside from being towed to North Pier and Tower the following weekend for display during the Anniversary Weekend, that was the last that 143 was seen outside of the confines of Rigby Road with it having spent most of its time over the past 29 months within the Fitting Shop waiting for work on its motors.

But now comes the news that 143 has now had the defective motor replaced (understood to have seen the good motor from 147 transferred) and that static testing has commenced. This is just the first stage of its return to service though, as this time a full period of testing will be undertaken (the previous launch had seen no real testing having taken place as the work went “to the wire” not allowing time for this). After the static testing there will be testing under power on the depot fan and then onto Hopton Road before the tram is allowed back onto the Prom. This will see testing and mileage accumulation take place and only when it has covered a certain mileage will it be cleared for service so the 2019 situation can be avoided again.

It is hoped that, subject to everything going according to plan with testing, that 143 will be re-launched into service around Easter 2022. However, this is all dependent on whether testing is successful and 143’s owners, the Fylde Transport Trust, will not release any firm details of any relaunch just yet to make sure everything is at it should be. But it does give us all something to look forward to that 143 may become a fully fledged member of the heritage fleet in Blackpool relatively soon – and we’re sure it will soon become a very popular member! When it does return it will be first time it has properly (ignoring its ill-fated initial launch) carried passengers in almost 65 years!

143 is seen at the depot during the Vintage Weekend having been moved into the Electrical Compound – probably a good sign that something was happening! (Photograph by David Maxwell, 19th February 2022)

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7 Responses to Motors fitted to Standard 143 – now let the testing commence!

  1. nostalgicyetprogressive says:

    An excellent solution seems to have been found presumably in putting 147 in mothballs for now, so that the much awaited launch of 143 can be expedited. Although a popular tram, 147 has become a normal regular feature of many heritage events and as the saying goes, ‘familiarity breeds contempt’. Far better to be able to provide the interest and maybe excitement that 143 will represent – a superb means of attracting more passengers with something new, yet very traditional and original. Thus there should be another tram (although strictly not a ‘Tramroad’ car) to add to any event marking the 125th Anniversary of the Blackpool and Fleetwood Tramroad next Summer (along with 279 and just maybe even 304).

  2. John1 says:

    If, as suspected in the comment above, 147 has donated a motor then that kills off the ONLY all weather Vintage Tram! The flagship one which was wheeled out for Bojo. lets just hope that some extras etc can now be run otherwise 143 will be wasted on the few prom tours a day currently being offered!

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      Its a shame about 147 but what’s the alternative? Leaving a newly restored tram to gather dust? I think the motor swap is an acceptable short-term solution as getting 143 operational should be a top priority. Obviously it would be best to get the defective motors repaired, but this is so expensive and arguably if the money was available for this, it may be better spent on the depot roof.

      • John1 says:

        It won’t be short term though…….look at 230, 675/685………… You’ll be lucky if 147 ever runs again.

        • Andrew Waddington says:

          Maybe, maybe not, time will tell. I still ask though, what was the better alternative? Have a fully restored 143 sit idle at Rigby Road? Too many people have invested money, not to mention a lot of time, blood, sweat and tears, into 143 for that to happen.

          Maybe we need to look at the Blackpool heritage fleet more like Crich – when a tram is withdrawn with a defect, funding may prevent it from always being repaired straight away, or even at all. However new additions to the running fleet can soften the blow. As much as I miss the likes of Rack 2, 45, 60, 1068 etc. running at Crich I can’t wait to ride on Newcastle 102 again and it will be a bigger draw for people having not operated in over 20 years!

  3. BobW says:

    Don’t forget poor old 660, languishing away in the depot, seemingly unloved and forgotten about !

  4. Malcolm Bury says:

    Unfortunately, as with all heritage operations, the bottom line is funding.
    If swapping out a motor from 147 sees 143 enter service all well and good, providing it is only a short term solution, and that after repairs to the defective motor, 147 again sees the light of day in the not too distant future.
    However, I do despair that funds are once again being spent on bringing back into service yet another balloon which, to the general public, will look almost identical to the other balloons in the heritage fleet when the Heritage Operation should be doing all it can to attract as many people as possible onboard.
    If we get a good summer (fingers crossed) a good patronage can be expected on the boats (of which only two are serviceable) and on the open balcony cars Bolton 66 and hopefully 143. Why is 706 ‘Alice’, always a very popular tram with the public, not prioritised along with 230 ‘George’, rather than a balloon whose only genuine interest will be to the enthusiast?

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