The Boat 233 saga goes on… and on…

Just when we thought the fuss around the controversial sale of Blackpool Boat car 233/605 to America by the Lancastrian Transport Trust was finally beginning to die down, the story of its departure has now been reported in the wider media. The Blackpool Gazette reported on its sale for the first time on 1st October, a whole month after the tram last ran in the UK, and British Telecom also published an article about 233 on their website the same day.

Despite being rather late in announcing this ‘news’, both websites carried similar details to a previous LTT press release, including the dubious claim that another preserved tramcar will benefit from the money raised by the sale of the Boat car. Statements were also included from both LTT Trustee Eric Berry and Blackpool Transport’s Bryan Lindop, despite the latter having no direct involvement in this deal.

Unfortunately, the Gazette website’s article was accompanied by an uncredited photograph of 233 taken by your writer! The photo, which showed the tram in service at Blackpool back in 2008, was actually supplied to the newspaper as part of a press release when British Trams Online sponsored its repaint as part of the arrangement which saw the car loaned to Beamish Museum in 2012. As neither the photographer or this website were credited, a complaint was made to the Gazette regarding its sudden unexpected appearance, and the story has since disappeared from their website. This is probably a good thing for Blackpool Transport, as the company was attracting a great deal of undeserved criticism from uninformed people using the comments box provided below the article itself. Commentators were accusing the LTT of being forced to take the drastic action of selling the tram to pay for the rent charges incurred whilst LTT trams were stored at Rigby Road (an arrangement which ended more than a year ago), and even suggested that Blackpool Transport did not deserve its remaining Boat trams as they rarely operate. Of course, such ill-informed rubbish completely ignores the fact that these vehicles are now designated tour cars which cannot operate in normal passenger service on what is now essentially a modern light rail system. It is a great shame that such negativity found a place on a high-profile website, yet the many positive developments involving Blackpool’s heritage tram fleet this year have been largely ignored by the local press.

Thankfully, Rachel Moloney’s piece on the BT website has not attracted such sensationalist replies, at least at the time of writing, and also contains a more recent – and appropriately credited – image of 233 in service at Beamish.

Incidentally, since the Boat left Beamish on 19th September, nothing has been heard of its progress and it is not clear whether or not it has yet reached its intended destination in San Francisco. However, it has been confirmed that the tram will not be commissioned for use as soon as it arrives, and that it will instead receive some modifications to make it suitable for carrying wheelchairs first, as was rumoured some time ago. Although it will be good for less able-bodied people to be able to ride on this wonderful tram, it further goes against the LTT’s original aim of preserving Blackpool trams to ensure that they would remain unmodified. It may be recalled that the Trust was quite critical of BTS a few years ago for the drastic modifications undertaken on some of the retained Balloon cars; words that may well come back to haunt them a few years on.

If anyone has any further information regarding 233‘s current whereabouts, please get in touch with us as we are keen to hear of its recent progress.

A rather familiar image of Blackpool 233/605 from August 2008, as briefly seen on the Blackpool Gazette website. The tram is seen in its 'wartime' style livery at North Pier. (Photo by Andrew Waddington)


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5 Responses to The Boat 233 saga goes on… and on…

  1. Tommy Carr says:

    Hopefully she’ll have a good life out there-although the wheelchair access had to be expected-all of MUNI’s trams are. Several enthusiasts out there like the look of 227….hopefully another red boat car???????! if anyone knows, I would like to know how 228 is wheelchair accessible (how it has been modified)

    • fred Collins says:

      Hi Tommy. San Francisco has a rather crude, slow but effective way of making their historic streetcars wheelchair friendly. At each wheelchair accessible stop there is a separate raised section, rather like a mini metrolink platform which the wheelchair user goes up. The driver or in the case of 228, the conductor then man handles a metal bridge kept on the tram to form a bridge. The wheelchair user moves onto the tram and the bridge is put back on board. All very time consuming but no one seems to mind. In the link below you can see the bridge to the left of the platform, simply secured with a length of rope.

  2. Steve Jones says:


    Yet again the LTT’s clumsy and inept PR attempts to try and regain some credibility from the sale of 233 have backfired on them. What Blackpool Transport management will make of this article, and what damage it could do to the negotiations for the establishment of the new charitable trust for the management of the heritage fleet we can only wait and see.

    I would have thought Mr Berry, as sole director of Classic Bus North West, and Mr Higgs as sole director of Red Rocket Bus Compay, would have other things to occupy them than feeding out of date and misleading statements to the media.

    Hopefully they will both terminate whatever interest they have left in tram preservation (and with luck bus preservation as well!) and concentrate on trying to generate passenger demand for their doubtful local bus services and soon to be launched express service to Manchester.

    • David L says:

      CBNW have de registered the 12 service from 10 November,they have registered a new service 80 to Preston from December:

      From: Blackpool, Corporation Street To: Preston Bus Station Via: Poulton, Elswick, Inskip & Catforth Name or No: 80 Service Type: Normal Stopping, Hail & Ride Effective Date: 09-Dec-2013 Other Details: Monday to Sunday Hourly. Hail & Ride along specific rural sections

  3. Steve Jones says:


    It’s tempting to think that by de-registering Seafront 12 CBNW/LTT have finally decided to cut their losses and common sense has prevailed.

    It’s obvious to most of us the tramway, with additional capacity from BTS bus service 1 is more than capable of providing an adequate service along the Blackpool seafront. CBNW’s mixed bag of pensioned off non-DDA compliant Stagecoach single deck B10M and double-deck Olympian buses adds nothing, and the observed light loadings (to say the least!) seem to confirm the travelling public are not interested. As for the monstrous open-top three axle ex-Hong Kong Metrobus, which plods its weary way between St Annes and Cleveleys rain or shine, I’ve yet to see anybody on it!

    Unfortunately the deregistration of Seafront 12 is likely to be for the winter period only. The same Notice and Proceedings from VOSA also record the deregistration of seasonal Blackpool Transport Service 20 from the same date. Like a bad smell, CBNW service 12 seems difficult to remove, and if/when it returns next season it will be its third year. Another year of its drivers pulling up at every stop along the promenade, often trying to “persuade” service 20 and tram customers on board (usually with little success and slightly embarassing!).

    Maybe CBNW’s foray in rural Lancashire with Service 80 and their Red Rocket express to Manchester will distract the company’s management from the Blackpool seafront? However despite lack of interest from the travelling public, I’ve a feeling Seafront 12 will be back!