On Monday 9th December, all three surviving Blackpool ‘Coronation’ cars were reunited at the town’s Rigby Road tram depot for the first time since 1975. On this day, cars 304 and 660 were joined by 663, which had made the short journey from the former Lancastrian Transport Trust depot at Brinwell Street. This brought to an end the latest period of uncertainty in the life of a tram that has endured a rather chequered career in preservation since leaving Blackpool back in 1976.
Coronation 663 has changed homes and owners more times than most trams, most recently joining the collection of the Lancastrian Transport Trust, who acquired it in 2002. A year later it was back in Blackpool, being relocated to the Brinwell Road storage premises, and it duly became the longest-serving resident of this building. When the depot was sold and the LTT eventually terminated their lease arrangement its future was once again thrown into doubt, although the owners of the site very kindly agreed that it could remain on site for a few months beyond the end of the deal. However, with plans to clear out the building so that it can be completely re-wired in the new year, 663 had to be moved out by mid-December.
Happily, Blackpool Transport have stepped in to ensure that this tram’s turbulent story has a happy ending, and the car is now set to find permanent sanctuary at Rigby Road as part of the company’s collection of heritage trams. Despite not initially being included in the original deal to transfer nine former LTT trams to BTS, the company has decided to add it to their growing heritage fleet, meaning that at some time in the future, it should be possible to see three Coronation cars operating together on their native tramway! It remains to be seen whether the offer of a substantial donation towards 663‘s restoration, which saw some work undertaken on the car prior to its release from the LTT’s care, will be available to its new owners, in which case its return to use could well come fairly soon.
On the morning of 9th December, a low loader supplied by Scott’s Heavy Haulage arrived at Blackpool to collect the last remaining tram in residence at Brinwell Road. 663 was loaded without incident, and then made the short but hugely significant journey to its old/new home, where it was unloaded in surprisingly bright sunshine during the afternoon. Despite being stripped of most of its external panelling during the aforementioned work, the tram still made a glorious sight on Blundell street, before being shunted into the nearby depot after a very long absence. The haulage firm then dismantled the ramp used to unload their precious cargo, before heading back onto the road to bring another historic Blackpool tram back home…
If any British Trams Online readers witnessed the return home of Coronation 663 and has any photos they would like to share on this website, please contact us using the following email address – firstname.lastname@example.org – as we are keen to publish photos of this historic event.