EATM make it a hattrick of Brush Cars as the FTT’s 634 makes the move

The East Anglia Transport Museum is now the home of three Blackpool Brush Cars following the move of 634 on Monday 13th November 2023. Owned by the Fylde Transport Trust, 634 has gone on loan to the museum where it is planned to complete work on the tram ahead of it entering service after mileage accumulation takes place.

In a statement the Fylde Transport Trust have explained the reasons for the tram moving to the East Anglia Transport Museum: “Over the last few years, 634 has been repainted into the “Terror Tram” advert and was due for final commissioning just as the situation due to the global pandemic took hold in 2020/1. This phase of the return to the rails suffered due to the various restrictions then, and also the recent restrictions on the
Rigby Road depot complex in 2022/3. We have therefore taken the opportunity to work with our friends at the East Anglia Transport Museum in order for them to complete the final commissioning and mileage accumulation of the tram. 634 was loaded aboard a low loader today and is now on its way to East Anglia.

“The planned project for 634 which was developed back in 2021 is no longer an active project for various reasons, and therefore the decision has been made to loan 634 to East Anglia Transport Museum for a fixed period once the final commissioning is complete. This will also ease the situation at Blackpool regarding depot capacity whilst various building works are undertaken over the next few years.

“Whilst 634 is away from Blackpool for its loan period, it will be flying the flag for the Blackpool tram system in East Anglia, thus giving the opportunity to people who cannot easily travel to Blackpool more chance to sample the delights of a Brush tram.”

634 was one of the first trams to leave Blackpool in 2009 ahead of the upgrade of the tramway to modern light rail standards. Whereas the majority of trams which departed were acquired by organisations and museums, 634 was purchased by enthusiast Andy Ashton who moved the tram to Rushden in Northamptonshire where he undertook restoration work on the tram. This included a full repaint into 1990s green and cream and internal restoration work. A further move to the North East Land, Sea and Air Museum near Sunderland followed but then in 2016 it was to return home to Blackpool.

Donated to the Blackpool Heritage Trust with a view to getting the tram back running on the Blackpool Tramway again, it subsequently became part of the Fylde Transport Trust collection when the two collections were merged. As alluded to in the statement from the FTT it was painted into an approximation of its Coral Island Terror Train all over advert from the 1990s (changed to Terror Tram) with plans for it to be used on the Prom for a specific project. However, this project is now not going ahead and so this livery was no longer required for use in Blackpool.

Building on their good relationship with the East Anglia Transport Museum (after the donation of former FTT trams Brush 625 and Balloon 726 at the end of 2022) negotiations took place for a loan of 634 to Suffolk and this has now been concluded with the tram starting its long journey east on 13th November 2023 (a little under 12 months since the last two FTT trams made the same move).

In a change from other recent moves, the loading of 634 took place in the Bus Yard directly out of the Body Shop where 634 has been located for a number of years waiting for work to return it to service. This avoided the need to shunt the tram onto Hopton Road where the majority of trams have been loaded and unloaded in the past.

The East Anglia Transport Museum is now home to six Blackpool trams with fellow Brush Cars 290 and 625, Balloon 726, Standard 159 and Marton VAMBAC 11 already resident at Carlton Colville. The museum is probably in the unique position amongst tram museums/organisations in the UK in that they do have capacity to grow their collection with a new tram depot having been built on their additional land which is currently allowing the museum to expand.

634 remains part of the Fylde Transport Trust collection and is on loan to the East Anglia Transport Museum.

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14 Responses to EATM make it a hattrick of Brush Cars as the FTT’s 634 makes the move

  1. Nostalgicyetprogressive says:

    This is very positive news and as stated benefits those for whom getting to Blackpool would involve a long and complicated journey. Let us hope that now a new home can be found for 632 and possibly the ex permanent way car (originally 287), gven that there is probably room for only a couple of Brush Cars (i.e. 621 and 631) in Rigby Road Depot now that the workshop facilities need to be accommodated and to allow for projects such as Lytham 43, the Paisley car and the Archive Department. On the matter of 287, maybe either 637 or 626 could donate parts towards any restoration efforts rather than be allowed to rot away to oblivion in open storage.

    • David says:

      Let us not forget that 626 was in perfect operating condition before it was dumped on the docks. The contributor seems to know more about what Blackpool heritage plans to do than they do. I am convinced that Blackpool heritage don’t have a clue.

    • Fylde Transport Trust says:

      Just so no misunderstandings are made from the comment of “nostalgicyetprogressive”, 634 has only moved on a temporary loan basis to East Anglia and will return to Blackpool. Both of our other Brush cars have permanant storage at Rigby Road and there is no reason to look for new homes.

      It is important to clarify this as often such remarks make their way into social media “facts” and then complicate the work of our Trust in the future. Posts on the FTT Facebook page, or here on British Trams Online are the only sources of correct information concerning our tram collection.

  2. Andrew says:

    Well it isn’t quite the “exciting news” that many of us expected, but for 634 this does seem like a positive development – I’m sure it will be well used and looked after at the EATM, and I suspect it will be able to go into service sooner rather than later as so much work has already been done on it.

    Despite the upbeat tone of the statement, I will be very shocked if 634 ever returns to Blackpool, and the fact that the project for which it was repainted is now dead and buried (maybe appropriate for the ‘Terror Tram’!) only adds further fuel to the suspicion between a growing number of enthusiasts that the tram is no longer wanted in Blackpool and that this loan arrangement will probably end up becoming a permanent stay at East Anglia. Considering the fact that the Blackpool heritage team actually asked for it to come back in the first place, and the fact that the FTT paid for its repaint and other work, I think that is a disgrace personally. I know that the FTT are responsible for the tram, but considering that Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours could potentially make money out of it, I feel that they should have assisted with the work to get 634 operational at the very least. Fair enough the workshops at Rigby Road have been inaccessible for much of 2023, but the tram could and should have been completed before then. Its also odd to blame the COVID-19 pandemic as the ‘Terror Tram’ project was started in 2021!

    At least 634 looks set to run again soon and people can enjoy the fantastic work done on its interior by the previous owner, and hopefully East Anglia will benefit from having a ‘new’ Blackpool tram in service. I never thought I’d see the day when a tram that Blackpool don’t have the resources to finish would go to East Anglia to be completed, but here we are!

    • Fylde Transport Trust says:

      As a clarification to the comments from “Andrew”, the FTT is very clear that the loan of 634 is for a defined period, and then the tram will return to Blackpool. Anytime one of our vehicles from the FTT collection (bus or tram) is loaned to other Trusts or Museums, there is always an accompanying Loan Agreement which spells out exactly the conditions of the loan including time frames.

  3. Kev23 says:

    You would hope that 259 and long John would have a place in the museum to show ex passenger vehicles as works cars and 259 to double as showing the construction of the cars as its heavily stripped. Lets face it 43 and 16 will never be done in Blackpool.

    • Andy says:

      I completely agree with what Kev23 says here. Since the so-called “upgrade” in Blackpool, I feel the heritage operation has been a very low-key and minimal affair in an attemt to keep enthusiasts on side. But the heart has never been in it. They just about manage to paint the occasional tram, but these restorations very rarely involve anything more than that. Trams shown in historic condition from given periods often have cove windows still pannelled over or the horrible non-matching windscreens that were made even worse with a revamp in the 1990’s. Swing over seats don’t get reinstated and (except for one Brush car where they were returned) traditional lifeguards remain absent. The two repainted twin sets haven’t turned a wheel since a small electrical fire alerted the world that they needed rewiring. And I could go on. Come illumination season it even seems to be too much effort to change a few light bulbs! So given all these things that I’ve noticed from afar in recent years, what hope does the same organisation (I have no clue who is on charge any more!) have of restoring things like 43 and 16?

      My guess is that when the ‘upgrade’ came along, BT let most of their skilled maintenance staff go. Remember these were the people who made stuff from scratch, including entire bogies for 762 and the centenary class. They rebuilt railcoaches into OMO cars in a few months and turned balloons into essentially new vehicles with the millennium rebuilds. So where are they now?

      Also, I’ve asked this before, but who gets the money prom the heritage tours. Given that the crews are generally volunteers they must generate some revenue. Is it the FTT, BT’s heritage department or just BT in general?

      Tramtown is a smokescreen to divert attention away from the fact that BT wants to demolish most of the Rigby Road site and squeeze what remains of the heritage operation into a smaller and smaller space. remember Toytown, sorry… Tramtown, is supposed to be a museum. Sh why build a ‘modern workshop’ when there’s a perfectly good genuine historic one right there? If BT really needs somewhere to plug in it’s electric buses, why not stick them in a ready made industrial unit on the outskirts of town somewhere?

      Thankfully we have the brilliant teams at places like the EATM, saving our history from those who have no grasp of it’s importance.

      • Fylde Transport Trust says:

        Just to avoid rumours being generated from this post, the FTT funds all its restoration projects 100% from our own funds and donations and from no other sources.

        • Andy says:

          Thanks for clarifying that part, but my question was more along the lines of who gets the cash generated from the heritage operations? I think when most peopler ride a heritage car in Blackpool now, they assume the money it’s volunteer crew bring in goes back into the heritage projects (eg depot roof, Princess Alice restoration etc) but the fact nobody ever jumps on her to confirm that leads me to think that it probably doesn’t.

  4. Kevin Bucknall says:

    As the current owner of 637 I am still looking for a new home to keep 637 in existence. However time is running out. If any other Brush car interests are looking for spares if 637 is broken could they email me at in the near future.

  5. Nig says:

    The museum now seems like a dumping ground for failed projects from Blackpool , how are the other recently arrived exiles progressing considering the limited resourses? It looks like it is a museum biting off more than it can chew with the expansion and more and more major projects being taken on . Other exhibits that have been in use or not are just falling to the wayside and income doesn’t keep up with the infrastructure upkeep and repairs unfortunately . Better to look after what you already have than to keep adding to .

    • Andy says:

      I couldn’t disagree more. The EATMS has a great team of volunteers working together to keep all aspects of our heritage alive. They are collecting vehicles right now because right now is the only time they will be able to do it. In 5 or 10 years time it will be too late to add any more UK heritage vehicles to their tram fleet. Those stupidly cast off from the short-sighted Blackpool will either have loving new homes or be scrapped by then. There simply won’t be anything worth saving around by then.
      If the scrap man in Barry hadn’t collected loads of clapped out steam locos in the 1960s and had simply cut them up because they looked too far gone, how many of our now hugely valued heritage locomotives would we have lost?
      The EATMS seem to be taking the long term aproach and I applaud them for it. I also applaud them for showing an operating tramway pretty much as they actually were. Not everything was clean and shiny all the time. Trams did a job of work and were turned out by their operators in a generally safe but not always immaculate condition. What the EATMS rae doing, either by accident or design, is providing a much more accurate working museum than places like Crich could ever achieve. They can also keep a car in service, something else Crich and the like don’t seem to be very good at sometimes.

  6. Nostalgicyetprogressive says:

    It may be that any out of town facility for the electric buses would not prove cost effective and it would have to be equipped for the buses just as much as a development on the Rigby Road Site. I feel confident that the 1930s tramshed can easily accommodate a new workshop in addition to the Heritage Fleet, bearing in mind that the shed originally had a capacity for at least 100 tramcars and of course the Heritage fleet is much smaller.

    I must admit that although it will be great to have 634 return as planned, it is hard to see the need for as many as six Brush Cars. Therefore it would sadly seem unlikely that Rigby Road could offer a home to 637 as an entire tramcar. I don’t suppose EATM would have room for or desire another. As things stand, the situation is not as bad as some might believe. Given that everyone is experiencing hard times, the Heritage Team have done an excellent job in keeping a service going and there are still plenty of Balloons, esecially when the B Fleet is taken into account. I think it’s true to say that nearly everyone loves the Balloon Trams and they always attract attention on the promenade plus revenue. As long as there are enough Balloons in working order together with a couple of Boats for fine weather, there should be no reason to despair of the Heritage Tram situation at all.

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