LTT trams to be re-homed

A representative of the Lancastrian Transport Trust has recently confirmed that this organisation is planning to cease its tram-related activities completely in the near future, in order to focus its resources on their remaining historic bus collection. The expected transfer of nine LTT-owned trams into Blackpool Transport’s own heritage fleet would have left the Trust with just three trams anyway, so this announcement is not a huge surprise, although it will mark a significant turning point for the preservation movement.

The best news to emerge from the announcement, is that Blackpool Coronation car 663 looks set to return to Rigby Road next month, having been absent since 1976 when it was first sold into preservation! The tram is scheduled to leave its current home at Brinwell Road and join the other heritage trams at Rigby Road, where it will become part of the resident fleet once again, subject to the successful completion of negotiations for a transfer of ownership. This will mean that all three surviving Coronation cars will be back on home turf, and one day it is hoped that all three will be able to operate together on their native rails. Having gone through several different owners over the years and moved between a number of different locations, it is extremely pleasing that 663 looks set to find permanent sanctuary in Blackpool after experiencing more than its fair share of threats to its survival!

The ultimate fate of the other two tramcars which will remain in LTT ownership is currently less clear, although it is hoped that a secure future can be found for them both. Former Towing Car 671, presently stored outside, could be tricky to re-home as in its current condition the car is single-ended (its long-term partner 681 is owned by Merseytravel and stored at Knowsley), although at least one organisation is believed to have shown some interest in taking it on and hopefully this will allow 671 to enjoy a more prosperous future. Balloon 703 is of course just over half way through an intended five-year loan period at Beamish Museum, where it is in regular operation masquerading as Sunderland 101. As the museum have invested a lot of time and money in keeping this tram serviceable, it is hoped that the LTT might consider donating it to them a gesture of goodwill. This would certainly go some way towards making up for the unexpected departure of Open Boat 233, and would offer a viable future towards what was always one of the most popular of the Balloon class.

Hopefully a positive solution will now be found to ensure that all of the trams that had been collected by the LTT will have a bright future with new owners. With rumours of the charity facing liquidation now denied and plans afoot to retrieve the last tram left at Brinwell Road, hopefully all associated parties can now put the past behind them and concentrate on what really matters; the preservation of the Fylde’s transport heritage for the benefit of future generations.

A view of Coronation 663 taken inside the Brinwell Road shed during an LTT open day. More recently this tram has been partially stripped, but is soon expected to leave this site for good. (Photo by Tony Waddington)

 

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12 Responses to LTT trams to be re-homed

  1. Chris Callan says:

    Like many welcome yesterdays announcement. As a tram enthusiast its the news many have been waiting for. Soon the Lancastrian Transport Trust Tram efforts will be mere memories and consigned to the history books (preferably books that don’t disintegrate but that’s another story…)

    However what is fantastic news and a massive positive for the tram preservation movement cannot and must not be a smoke screen that allows people to stop asking the difficult questions about where the money has gone.

    1) The £45 000 Recent Donation to the Lancastrian Transport for the specific tram 663. Now as it as clear other than preliminary panel inspection have taken place all that money should still be their..

    2) 622 recieved just over £4,000 (Freedom of Information Request to get fill details will be under way soon). Whilst the internal aspects of the tram remain untouched naturally a proportion of this grant must either returned or the tram completed…

    3)605 £17,000. Where is the money. The press releases supplied by the Lancastrian Transport Trust indicated the money would be used to complete 143. Well the money should transfer to Bryan L.. at Blackpool Transport to complete it..

    Welcome the news. But naturally a line cannot be drawn and people simply move on… Question must and will be put to them

  2. Steve Jones says:

    Fully endorse Chris’s questions and comments, and many thanks to him for sharing the FOI information.

    The LTT announcement through new trustee Nigel Powton avoided all mention of 663 and 233 money. Nor did it mention the amount Anchorsholme school/ Blackpool Council had paid for the tram. By now I’m sure the LTT trustees are beginning to understand these questions are not going to go away, even if they are thankfully pulling out of tram preservation. Nor are the questions relating to late submission of accounts to the Charity Commission and previous accounts issues going away either.

    Andrew has done a superb of investigative reporting, and both he and Gareth have handled the difficult subject with great professionalism and fairness. I can quite undersand BTOL now wishing to draw a line under the matter, forget the LTT, and report some more positive aspects of tram preservation. However money has been donated in the case of 663, and committed to in the case of 143, and paid in the case of 622. The enthusiast body is rightly showing determination in trying to ensure the money earmarked for 663 and 143 does not go to pay off LTT debts, or otherwise used by them for purposes for which it was not intended.

    As Chris says, more investigation and fact finding is taking place, and further questions will be put to the LTT trustees.

    • Chris Callan says:

      In the process of completing the forms to receive the bigger picture. Have a feeling they may try to fight some of the request as Classic Bus North West is a limited company so the correspondence between them and the council some may be limited under commercial confidentiality… I want everything to do with the “deal” published. Everything ranging from day one to the present day…

      However absolutely determined to get to the bottom of it. Now not the time for anger but action. Anger can be rubuffed a just “enthusiasts getting upset”. Whereas going after the cold hard facts and assembling the clear picture is far more constructive…

      • David Y Dredge says:

        Good work Chris and I commend your objective approach.

        I noted from looking back through the LTT reports that “The funds raised through the share issue will be used to undertake further work on 605 and fund the ongoing storage costs of the LTT tram fleet in Blackpool.” This struck me as a bit odd at the time (03/12) and a rather liberal interpretation of what I assumed to be restricted funds. The repaint (in what turned out to be mint green because the previous finish showing through) was undertaken by the Busworks, aka CBNW; should LTT have gone out to competitive tender?

  3. nigel powton says:

    Firstly I need to make it clear that I have only recently been appointed a trustee and therefore am not fully appraised on all of the various issues currently under discussion. I will however offer the best responses I can as I continue to gather information.

    The work undertaken on 622 was on a purely commercial basis between Blackpool Council and Classic Bus North West. At no time was this a Tust project and as such will not feature in the Trust accounts. As this work is regarded as commercial in confidence I am not privvy to any specific information at the current time. Whilst on the subject of the late accounts submission I can assure everyone that these are currently under preparation and will be submitted shortly.

    The reason I have not commented on either 663 or 233 is as I alluded to earlier I am not fully appraised of the facts and I want to report the correct information and will do as soon as I have been fully updated.

    I would also like to emphasise that although thre tram collection is being disposed of the trams are still costing the Trust money in respect of storage fees and transportation overheads until all of the vehicles are safely ensconsed in their new homes.

    I can assure everyone that the trustees are working hard to resolve all of the recent difficulties and I foresee a healthy future for the LTT within the realms of bus preservation.

    • Chris Callan says:

      Thankyou for taking the time to respond.

      Look forward to the updated accounts and detailed statements answering the questions in due course. Naturally all of us would prefer to do it through the group rather than having to compile detailed reports and go via the Charity Commision.

      Once the questions are answered the vast majority will be able to move on and look forward to the 2014 season

    • Paul says:

      Thankyou for your contributions Nigel.

      I hope that your appointment does indeed signal a change of direction and a clean break with the past. Your openness and seeming willingness to investigate/appraise the past dealings of the Trust is a positive first step.

      I think that to fully restore credibility and trust with supporters and donors, a clear separation of the charitable trust from the (currently) associated commercial operations must be made, cutting both financial and management ties which means there should be no trustees/directors/employees in common and complete transparency in any dealings with each other. Perhaps even a renaming may be appropriate to underline that it is a new start for the trust re-focussed on its bus collection.

      Paul

  4. Frank Gradwell says:

    There needs to be a thorough going investigation into how funds were accessed – as a charity activity – LTT, or as a commercial one Classic Bus.

    If money was donated to the charitable body, and ring fenced, then the LTT trustees must say where it went on acquisition and how it was used – within the charity for charitable purposes, or leave themselves open to further questions.

    Its going to be an interesting time!

  5. John says:

    good news that 663 will be saved but am i alone in thinking that 3 Coronations aren’t really needed. The £45k could have gone a hell of a long way towards returning something else to use. 59 perhaps?

    • Tommy Carr says:

      But then are 5 balloons needed? 3 brush cars? 3 twin cars?

    • David Butterworth says:

      It would be great to see three Coronations on the Prom once again.

      One in original condition, 304, (Vambac), one in 1960′s condition, 660 (324) with modified control equipment (EE Z6) and one with similar modified control equipment, but in half green and cream 663 (327).

      We’ll have to wait. One day perhaps, it may happen!

  6. Andrew Waddington says:

    I think that the time has probably now come to let this discussion lie, and leave the LTT and BTS to sort out their plans for the future of the trams. Digging up the past too much is probably going to do more harm than good now, and with such a bright future (hopefully) ahead of us it seems a shame to see so much continuing negativity.