A Brush car for Beamish

The future of Blackpool’s pioneer Brush Railcoach has been secured, thanks to an unexpected but extremely welcome transfer of ownership. Following a period of storage at Kirkham Prison after being acquired by the Fleetwood Heritage Leisure Trust, it has been announced that Blackpool Brush car 621 is to become a permanent part of the Beamish Museum transport collection, and departed from Kirkham on 11th November and undertake the longest journey of its life so far.

This month marks exactly ten years since 621 last ran in passenger service in Blackpool, making the positive news about its future prospects particularly timely. The car endured a lengthy period of storage at the Rigby Road depot before being sold into preservation, moving to Kirkham Prison for temporary storage in December 2011 following its acquisition by the Fleetwood Heritage Leisure Trust. Initially housed undercover, the tram was later dumped outside at the prison’s request but now that it is set to be released back into civilisation after ‘doing time’, it can look forward to a much brighter future.

A while ago, the Trust confirmed that it was reviewing its plans for the vehicles it had collected and this co-incided with an approach from a small group of enthusiasts who wished to purchase this valuable tram. Following top secret negotiations, led by the Blackpool Heritage Trust’s James Millington, agreement was reached for 621 to be sold and it was then donated to Beamish Museum, who will become the permanent custodians of this tram. The museum agreed to accept the tram which will regain its original identity as 284 in due course, and although a final decision has yet to be made, it has already been suggested that it may be restored in the attractive 1950s green and cream livery, similar to that carried by Marton VAMBAC car 11 which memorably visited the museum back in 2011. This would fit in particularly well with the future direction of Beamish, with a 1950s town due to be built within the next few years.

It is expected that car 621 will require some degree of workshop attention before it can enter service at its new home. Indeed, back in 2007 it was suggested that the car be reactivated in Blackpool and repainted in an appropriate heritage livery to mark its 70th anniversary but, as the tram required extensive re-panelling, sister car 623 was selected instead. However, the tram is thought to be complete apart from a few missing windows and hopefully the work required to restore it should not be too extensive. Although Beamish have a long list of other projects to work on and a busy maintenance schedule has already been set out for the next 18 months, meaning that 621 may have to wait a while before its turn for attention comes, it is extremely pleasing that this tram has been secured in such a good home which befits the first Brush car built. Not only is it fantastic that another iconic Blackpool tram is safe, but Beamish will also benefit from having this useful enclosed car in its fleet when the tram is eventually restored to service.

Thanks must go to everyone who has made this important acquisition possible; another great example of what great results can occur when organisations and individuals work together to benefit the tram preservation cause. We now look forward to seeing 621 at Beamish, and of course its arrival on site will be reported on this website imminently.

621's last full season of use in green and cream was 1994, when the tram sported the smart 1990s livery style complete with matt black window surrounds. Here the tram is pictured at Waterloo Road when it was still going about its daily business. (Photo by Andrew Waddington)


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9 Responses to A Brush car for Beamish

  1. Ken Walker says:

    It’s great to hear that this historically important car now has a good home and a bright future.

  2. Paul D says:

    Well done and thank you to those who contributed. A rare case of enthusiasts putting their money where their mouth is and getting on and doing something, instead of sitting at a keyboard demanding others act. Let this be an example. If others are serious about wanting to see their favourite tram saved, this is how to go about it. Sort the finances, identify an appropriate destination, arrange the transport, and most importantly have a plan for its long term care.

    As for Beamish, 621 was looking cosmetically shabby 10 years ago, but I believe is structurally sound, so while it will need some attention before entering service, it will make the ideal replacement for 680 when that moves on to its permanent home at Heaton Park.

    • Ken Walker says:

      That’s fine Paul, but given that the negotiations were ‘top secret’ until they had been finalised how were people supposed to even know about the fact the tram was available, let alone contribute?

      • Paul D says:

        Ken, I wasn’t referring to contributing to 621… I was referring to the many many commentators who regularly post that “someone” must save 726, 637 or whatever tram happens to be in the news this week but aren’t willing to do anything themselves…

        The reality is that anyone up to date with the news will know which trams are potentially available and it is up to them to approach the owners. The enthusiasts involved in this deal got on with it themselves, negotiated with FOFT and Beamish putting the necessary pieces of the jigsaw in place. I’m saying to others, If you want to save a specific tram, follow their example, get on with it yourself, don’t sit at the keyboard nagging others…

  3. Connor lowrey says:

    Will this tram be in service and if the answer is yes do you know when

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      Not for a while – as stated in the article it has not run since 2004 and will need some work to be made operational – but it will eventually join the working tram fleet at Beamish. No timescale has yet been given however.

  4. Frank Gradwell says:

    Wot I wrote last week!

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