Following its public debut at the Great North Steam Fair event, Blackpool ‘Boat’ 233 was formally launched into service at Beamish Museum by its owners, the Lancastrian Transport Trust, at a brief ceremony on Sunday 22nd April. Unfortunately despite our involvement in the project, the British Trams Online team were unable to attend (we were all trammed out after the excitement of recent weeks!), but a very special guest attended to welcome the tram to its new home.
Walter Luff is well known to most tram enthusiasts as the man whose vision for the future of public transport in Blackpool, led to the introduction of many of the most iconic streamlined trams ever to operate in the town – including the much-loved open Boat cars, which were intended as a modern version of the earlier toastrack cars. It was therefore highly appropriate that his daughter, Daphne Luff, was present at the launch ceremony to unveil the name of her father displayed on the side of car 233, as part of the legal lettering on its side panels. Acknowledging the shape of the tram, Daphne also broke a bottle of champagne over 233‘s tow box, to officially launch the vessel into service! LTT supporters were then invited to ride to the Town area of the Museum site, for a special ceremonial lunch. Later on in the afternoon, supporters of the Trust who have purchased shares in the Boat car were allowed to drive fellow LTT tram, Blackpool Balloon 703 – alias Sunderland 101 – under supervision.
233‘s career as an operational tram at Beamish has been greeted by rather wet and miserable weather and the official launch day was no exception, but with the tram due to stay at Beamish for at least two years, hopefully there will be plenty of opportunities to enjoy the tram in more suitable weather conditions!