Blackpool’s forgotten Coronation cars gets a makeover

Fresh from the controversial news regarding the sale of Blackpool ‘Boat’ car 605, the Lancastrian Transport Trust have announced the commencement of restoration work on another of its preserved Blackpool trams – Coronation 663. This tram has had a rather sad time since entering preservation and has languished at the LTT’s Brinwell Road depot for the past decade, but some work to return the car to a much smarter appearance is now underway.

A generous LTT member has offered to fund the restoration of this tram, and the first stage of the project will see the body tackled. Already the car has been partially stripped of its external panelling, revealing the effects of many years of neglect. However, the Coronation class were famously well built and so the main framework has remained in good condition, so putting this right should not prove too problematic. This work will ultimately see the car outshopped in its latter day half green/half cream livery complete with illuminated roof advert boxes, providing a contrast to the more original appearance of sister cars 304 and 660, both now based at Rigby Road.

Although this development would normally be viewed in a positive light, comments that 663‘s fortunes are being improved thanks to an enthusiast “putting their money where their mouth is” seem highly insensitive, considering the way that people who did exactly the same thing to support the preservation of car 605 have been treated! With two partially restored trams – Standard 143 and Railcoach 279 – also based at Brinwell Road depot, the decision to start work on yet another major project beggars belief and rather supports the belief that the LTT are very good at starting projects but less good when it comes to completing them. Let us hope that 663 will not suffer the same fate and that its supporters generous financial support will be put to good use.

What is currently unknown is what plans exist for 663 once this work is completed. Will the tram remain where it is, or could it be offered to one of our museum tramways? Could it even join its two surviving sisters back in service in Blackpool? Let’s just hope that the LTT don’t decide to sell this one to America as well!

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13 Responses to Blackpool’s forgotten Coronation cars gets a makeover

  1. Tommy Carr says:

    A loan to beamish would be goood once their 50’s section is built!

  2. Nigel Pennick says:

    Ask Market Street Railway if they have an option on it.

  3. The Eye says:

    It wouldn’t suprise me if it it went to America! The Market Street Trolley Line has a penchant for PCC cars. The Coronation cars as are as close to a PCC that Britain ever got. It would fit in nicely over there!!

  4. Ash Tomlinson says:

    Let’s hope it runs along the promenade in Blackpool!

  5. Garry Luck says:

    I personally would not consider the export of 663 to San Francisco to be a bad thing if it stabilised LTT’s financial position and provided a secure future for this particular tram. I do know from confidential dealings with a representative of the trust that it has worked hard to find an appropriate home for this tram, but clearly its present condition has been a deterrent to would-be takers. Despite the debacle surrounding 605 (and I’m not taking sides), let’s give the trust a chance to secure the future of the core collection by whatever measures are necessary.

  6. Nathan Honest says:

    For goodness sake, don’t encourage them! I do however agree that a loan to Beamish is in order, it might go some way to softening the blow of 605’s (probably illegal) sale to MUNI. The roof advert boxes sounds like a nice touch-it’s the little things that make the biggest difference.

  7. Nigel Pennick says:

    Can someone tell us what LTT’s ‘core collection’ is? If this tram is also for disposal, what else is? Anyway, the LTT is probably about to face some robust questioning by the Charity Commissioners, and who knows what the result of that may be for the future of the whole ‘collection’? And Market Street Railway already owns over 80 trams, a large proportion of which are not operational. MSR would do better to spend its money on getting its non-functioning trams on the road, rather than buying more from the UK.

    • Ken Walker says:

      The Americans seem to have a reputation for buying trams, trains etc from the UK for the apparent purpose of sticking them in a remote corner to rot away. 2 A4 pacifics for example, and numerous Dinorwic Quarry locos some of which have now been repatriated in a woebegone state. They obviously do not value our heritage very highly at all

  8. Nathan Honest says:

    “Any measures necessary” – Including selling the entire collection to America! I think not. I personally think 663 and 279 should be prioritised rather than 143, they are both unique trams and deserve a secure future in the UK. If by “core collection” you mean 8, 304, 715 and all the rest, they are now in the care of BTS, and no longer belong to the LTT. Just as well, really!

    • Steve Jones says:


      I’m not sure that the LTT tram “core collection” is yet safe under Blackpool Transport. There has been no announcement to date that the proposed new charitable trust has actually been signed up to by the various parties. We should remember one of those parties is the LTT, who have stated they will have respresentative(s) on the board of the new body. Will BT management, given the way the LTT has (mis)handled the disposal of 233, wish to partner such an organisation in managing the heritage collection? They may well feel such an association is not in the interests of establishing the integrity of a new charitable trust.

      We should also remember, apart from Coronation 304 and OMO 8, most of the other LTT trams remain in open storage in a yard in Marton, where they have languished since last September. They are not yer safe at Rigby Rd. 143, 279 and 663 remain at the LTT premises at Brinwell Rd. Former towing car 671 remains seemingly abandoned at Jackson’s Coaches, close to the other trams in open storage. 703 is currently part of the operational fleet at Beamish.

      in summary the remaining trams not involved with the BT deal are 663, 671 and 703. Presumably given the work Beamish staff have put in to make 703 usable, the museum will be offered it free of charge, if they want it? Given the number of twin cars in various collections, 671 is unlikely to have much appeal. As it seems to be squatting at Jackson’s at the moment, its future looks decidedly uncertain! 663 is as reported “under restoration”, funded by a sponsor. To what end is unclear, so given what has happened with 233, it will ultimately go to the highest bidder!

      • Ken Walker says:

        The work Beamish put into 233 didn’t do any good so we can’t assume 703 to be safe. It may be too big to run on MUNI’s system but there’s nothing to stop it being purchased as a static exhibit by someone. It wouldn’t be the first double decker to have gone over there

  9. Nathan Honest says:

    Good point well made Steve. I hesitate to say it, but I reckon BTS will start moving the cars at Marton rather quickly now! It think 703 has a safe future at Beamish, it is way too tall to run in the US. As for 663 and 671, their future is uncertain but I’m sure they’ll find a home someday. Perhaps 663 could run at Heaton Park once their depot is completed?

  10. Alan Charlesworth '' Sheffield'' says:

    I am very pleased to hear that Coronation 663 is to be given a makeover and say a big thank you to the donating benefactor. I would hope that the tramcar will see use on the Blackpool Tramway. I must say that I have been disappointed that these tramcars have never been given an anniversary celebration of their own 25, 40, 50, and this year on their own Diamond Jubilee and it being the Queens Diamond Jubilee the Coronation they were named after. We now have 10 years before the next and maybe 663 may take its place in any celebration given to the class, I do love em.

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