The Lancastrian Transport Trust have a lot to celebrate this month as their preserved Blackpool ‘Boat’ car 233 (ex-605) is now available for regular service in its new home at Beamish, the Living Museum of the North. Following completion of its British Trams Online sponsored repaint and other commissioning work, the tram debuted in service on Thursday 12th April and then ran extremely successfully throughout the four-day ‘Great North Steam Fair’ event.
Despite changeable weather over the course of the event, 233 proved very popular with visitors to the Museum and attracted considerable interest whilst in service. The tram ran faultlessly apart from a minor issue with the breakers on Friday 13th April, although after a brief test run it was soon passed as fit to remain in service. Some further work is now planned to take place on 233 – most notably the repainting of the interior as time did not allow this to be completed before the steam event. It is also hoped to carry out further work on the car’s electrics during its time at Beamish. However, for now the tram is available for service and should be used extensively this summer – weather permitting of course!
There have been a few comments and queries regarding Boat 233 and its current appearance. Some enthusiasts have said that the cream paint has a slightly greenish look, which is probably due to the dark green wartime livery underneath, and the positioning of the Blackpool Corporation crests on the side panels has been questioned. A lot of research was done by Beamish Museum’s Keeper of Transport regarding the crests, and they have been placed as they were when the Boat trams were new in 1934. The location of the crests on Blackpool trams has varied over the years and for many people this will seem unfamiliar, but rest assured, 233‘s crests are definitely not in the wrong place! One of the problems with the Blackpool streamliners is that their long working lives mean they can be restored in many different guises, so people will inevitably disagree as to how they should look, and indeed the decision for this tram to revert to its old fleet number has not found universal approval. The intention is for 233 to resemble its ‘as new’ appearance, although the LTT were keen to retain the windscreens in place for now at least which leaves us with something of a compromise. For many people the tram will remind them of the 1990s when it previously ran in original fleet livery.
However you think of 233 (or 605 if you prefer!), we hope that it will bring much enjoyment during its time at Beamish, and the feedback we have been given about it suggests that most enthusiasts think it looks fantastic. Certainly considering the tight timescale and limited budget for the project to return it to service, the end result is very impressive and our thanks go to everyone from Beamish Museum and the LTT who made it possible. It is hard to believe that, just two months ago, this was a ‘dead’ tram in store at Blackpool and now it is doing what it was built to do once again.
For those of you who have not yet seen Blackpool 233 since its transformation, Sunday 22nd April will be an ideal opportunity to do so as an official launch ceremony for the tram is being held on behalf of its owners and shareholders. Further details will be announced later in the week, and for those of you who would like to support the tram even more, it is still possible to buy shares in 233. More information can be found at: http://ltt-news.blogspot.co.uk/