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!