Escape from Alcatraz – Blackpool tram style!

On Monday 10th and Tuesday 11th November, three of the preserved Blackpool trams from the collection of the Fleetwood Heritage Leisure Trust made a great escape following a lengthy period of storage at Kirkham Prison, where they had resided since departing from Rigby Road in winter 2011/12. As well as Brush Railcoach 621 which has moved to Beamish (see separate story elsewhere), two other trams have been moved to another storage site in Fleetwood.

The moves began on November 10th when Centenary car 641 and Towing car 673 both left the prison grounds having been let out for good behaviour – well actually, the prison had requested that they be moved out by the end of the year! Both trams were duly transported to the Fleetwood docks where they have joined most of the other cars in the FHLT collection; regrettably, the trams will remain in outdoor storage. This move reunited 673 with its trailer car 683 after a few years apart. The Twin set remains in private ownership although it is generally considered as part of the Trust’s collection. It is believed that some plans are being formulated for 641 which could see it placed on public display at some point during 2015; however these plans had not progressed sufficiently yet and therefore it had to be moved to a temporary storage site.

The following day it was the turn of Brush car 621 to mount an escape of its own, only in this case the tram has been sold and will be heading to Beamish Museum where it will ultimately be returned to service. Of interest, Balloon car 726 was also moved although it remains in the same yard and has simply been shunted around to make it more accessible so that it can be inspected by a potential buyer, which will hopefully result in this tram following 621 in being sold to a new secure home. It is also believed that the remains of the Edinburgh tramcar body, also stored at Kirkham Prison, will be moved in the near future and apparently there are imminent plans for its future.

Whilst the efforts being expended to transfer these trams to a new storage site is commendable, it remains to be seen whether such effort will ultimately be worthwhile with no firm plans in place regarding the trams owned by the Fleetwood Heritage Leisure Trust and therefore it appears that all of their trams are destined to endure a further lengthy period of open air storage until their ultimate fates are finally decided. Hopefully one day some or all of these trams will return to prominence, although with the chances of a tram museum in Fleetwood ever happening getting less, this may be some time away.

673 arrives at the Fleetwood fish docks for continued storage on 10th November, as Centenary car 643 in its Coronation-inspired livery looks on whilst seemingly eating a bag!

The crisp autumn sun shines on Centenary car 641 as it arrives in Fleetwood for the first time since 2011, only this time on the back of a low loader rather than on its home rails.

Work in hand to unload 641, which is looking quite well despite having stood in an open yard at Kirkham Prison for almost four years.

A very shabby looking Balloon car 726 stands on the dockyard awaiting a decision on its future. Also visible here is Ex-Towing car 678 which is also showing clearly the effects of outside storage on an already dilapidated tramcar. (All photos courtesy of the Fleetwood Heritage Leisure Trust)

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1 Response to Escape from Alcatraz – Blackpool tram style!

  1. John Woodman says:

    Your Fleet List for the FHLT does not reflect the correct status of our collection. Brush Car 621 seems to be under dual ownership and in two places at once – Beamish and Kirkham Prison.

    Centenary Car 641 and the Twin Set Motor Unit were both transferred from Kirkham to Fleetwood in November as your News Items report.
    We trust this corrected information will be reflected on your Fleet List.

    Balloon Car 726 is in the process of being acquired by a private group – it will however remain at Fleetwood for the immediate future.

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