More changes for Blackpool Brush car 631

Blackpool Transport chose the annual Fleetwood Festival of Transport on Sunday 21st July to unveil the latest changes to Brush Railcoach 631. This tram first debuted in May following a repaint in green and cream, but to ensure that the car was ready for its advertised launch date some jobs were not completed at this time. Since then, 631 has returned to the works and now looks much better following further attention to emphasise its new status as a heritage tram.

Perhaps the most obvious alteration to 631 is the restoration of its old drop-tray lifeguards, which had previously been replaced by modern plough lifeguards when it was refurbished in the mid-1990s. However, some finishing touches have also been made to its paintwork with the solid block of green on the top half of the body sides now broken up by the addition of a thick cream band above the saloon glazing. In addition, the green paint which surrounds the windows has been extended to sweep down along the sides of the driver’s cabs, which suits the streamlined profile of a Brush car extremely well. In this new guise, 631 now resembles its late 1950s appearance, recreating a livery not seen on a car of this type for several decades and contrasting with the various other green and cream liveries worn by its preserved sisters.

As with the repaint of Centenary car 648, considerable effort has been made to create a really special tram and the end result looks truly stunning. However, this is only the first phase of work on 631 and it is intended to replace the enclosed pantograph tower with something more tasteful in the future, although this will be quite a big job as it contains much of the car’s electrical equipment, which will presumably need to be re-housed elsewhere. It is not known when this work will be carried out although with numerous other projects in the pipeline, it would be understandable if 631 takes a back seat to allow other historic trams which are not currently able to run to receive workshop attention.

It is hoped to provide photos of 631 and 648 showing off their new looks shortly on British Trams Online, so keep checking our news page for more updates!


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12 Responses to More changes for Blackpool Brush car 631

  1. Phil Hart says:

    Has anyone got any news on the restoration of Blackpool Brush Car 624?
    It was used as a permanent way car for a while and it was said it was going to be restored to it’s original look with it’s double destination blinds original windscreen layout and half drop windows. It was also proposed to put its original art deco interior and sliding roof with a traditional trolley pole.
    Last time I heard about this tram it was on the back of a low loader being taken away.

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      624 will be returning to Rigby Road as part of the LTT/Blackpool Transport deal we reported on several weeks ago. Ultimately it is planned for it to be fully restored to working order and join Blackpool’s heritage tram fleet, but it will probably have to wait a while as it will be a major project and there are lots of other jobs that need doing which will be quicker and cost a lot less.

  2. Nathan Honest says:

    The guys at Rigby Road have worked wonders on both 631 and 648, and they must be thanked as both trams are now looking far better than they did last year. However it is a pity that they can only be seen and ridden on by the public and enthusiasts a few days a year. The decision to only run heritage tours on Bank Holidays is utterly bizarre. The tramway and it’s trams WERE a tourist attraction, and during the tourist season they were always quite busy. Now the Flexities have arrived, I expect BTS’s tourist revenue during the summer to nosedive. Even your average tourist who knows nothing about trams can tell the difference between a Open Boat and the tasteless pieces of purple bendy plastic they now call trams, and given a choice, the tourist will pick the Boat every time. So I don’t get why BTS don’t have a daily summer heritage service, they only really need to run one or two trams for this so staffing and timetabling wouldn’t be a problem. They seemed to cope with it last year. I hope for 2014 they recognise this, because Blackpool isn’t Blackpool without it’s trams!

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      The reason BTS don’t run a daily heritage service in the summer is simple – they did it last year and it was a massive flop, probably losing them a lot of money! I was in town for a long weekend last August and although the heritage trams were reasonably well patronised at weekends, midweek was another matter entirely. I had several journeys on 717 all to myself and at one time I changed between the two cars in operation, to find that I was the only passenger on both of them! Quite simply, that couldn’t carry on and the ‘less is more’ principle seems to have worked as when the heritage trams run now they are carrying good loads of people, which just didn’t happen last season. Perhaps if the success continues there may be a return to the summer weekend operation, but I suspect the days of vintage trams running daily are now a thing of the past.

  3. Nathan Honest says:

    Well, a summer weekend service would be an improvement – presently heritage tours are few and far between, any expansion in service would be welcome. Can’t wait until 624 and 632 arrive, with the excellent work done on 631 and 648 I have no doubt that BTS can restore 624 to a high standard for us all to enjoy. Although this is totally unrelated to the article, will they be daytime heritage tours during the illuminations?

    • Enthusiast says:

      We have to accept that the patronage last year was abysmal. The only saving grace was the Evening Illuminations Tours. Without them loadings we wouldn’t even have a heritage service.

      Dont think people realise how close we were to loosing it all together. Anyone who has attended the current format would recognise how well its doing.

      Less is More. Currently running Bank Holiday Weekends + Evening Illuminations + Events + Hires is meeting the demand that’s their.

  4. nigel says:

    Surely the reason the summer heritage service flopped was because of no advertising and if as an enthusiast you did turn up they cancelled the service at the drop of a hat as they say.

    With better advertising and a guarantee of say at least a regular saturday/sunday workings it would be a success. At least worth a try again, unless of course there really is not the availability of crews.

    • Enthusiast says:

      Ill reinforce what i said previously.

      Anybody who actually bothered to attend this year (ive travelled up from Lincoln and not missed day of heritage yet) recognises the new format works and is popular…

      To many arm chair critics….

      • Ken Walker says:

        That’s ok if you’re free to attend when they are running! Like many people I have to work 2 weekends out of 3 and the last time I was off when the heritage service was running (and I attended) was at Easter. August bank holiday weekend I will be there.

        I agree with what Nigel says about the poor marketing and unpredictability of the service last year being a factor in the poor patronage. Reports of heritage services being cancelled without warning were enough to keep me away last year, travel to and from Blackpool costs too much to be risking a wasted journey. but that problem seems to be in the past now, so we’ll just have to hope that usage this year is good enough to encourage some weekend operations in the future, I agree that daily operation is too much.
        Now that BTS has gained another 9 heritage trams, running at bank holidays only will surely mean that each vehicle is going to get insufficient usage (and revenue) to justify the cost of restoring and maintaining them all?

  5. Malcolm Bury says:

    I ‘second’ every comment about the poor patronage during 2012. I went some days and seeing just how low the patronage was, was worried that the powers that be at BTS would scrap the whole operation. Thankfully, no doubt largely due to Bryans lobbying, with a revised ‘Bank Holiday’ and ‘Special Occasions’ schedule, the heritage operation continues. And thanks to the services of BTO, details of which trams will be running, and when, helps the enthusiast choose which days/weekends to visit.
    The trouble is that some enthusiasts have such a blinkered, simple and selfish view that they dont take into account the costs involved in running such services on a daily basis only for a handful of people to turn up and patronise these services. There simply aren’t enough enthusiasts around to make it viable on such a large scale.
    As for the public using them (presumably as they would have done pre modernisation), there are very limited pick up/drop off points and introducing any more would definitley disrupt the LRT services.
    Lets just be thankful that Bryan and his crews (operational and maintenance) are delivering fantastic, sustainable and successful heritage operation. Long may it continue.

  6. I was a bit surprised to read that heritage trams are not running every day! So are they only on Bank holiday weekends and special times?

    If so, I am somewhat dissapointed as I am going to Blackpool in a couple of weeks, and I was hoping to see and ride on the heritgae trams. However, I shall enjoy going on the new trams, but they won’t have the same nostalgia.

  7. Pete Smith says:

    For the enthusiasts like myself who can only travel to Blackpool a few times a year the current arrangement is superb. I am guaranteed to see a good variety of trams every time and the varied rosters for the routes mean I can travel the whole system on each one, complete with a full load of passengers.

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