Lost Trams 2: Blackpool Dreadnought 59

With much of the UK currently sweltering under nice warm sunshine it is rather apt that the second tram to feature in our irregular “Lost Trams” series is an open topper – Blackpool Dreadnought 59. This very popular tram has been out of the public eye since it was moved to the National Tramway Museum’s Clay Cross store in 1995 and in weather like this it is badly missed.

Built in 1902 and withdrawn in 1934, 59 was one of several trams saved by Walter Luff for posterity and it languished at Copse Road depot until the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Blackpool Tramway when it was resurrected for service in 1960. Just five years later the tram hit the road to join the national collection but it was soon discovered that a body overhaul was required if the tram was to operate for long. It returned home to Blackpool in 1975 where the work to restore this tram was to be undertaken by the Blackpool Technical College. Before this work was to commence the tram was displayed on Blackpool Prom for all to see and after this it moved to the College for the work to be undertaken. Once the work was completed in 1976 the tram headed to Rigby Road depot where it started to see
use on special duties and private hires. It remained in Blackpool until 1990 when it headed back to Crich. Any hope there was of 59 joining the operational fleet here though were soon dashed as it was decided the tram would need a full overhaul before carrying passengers again. Come 1995 and it was decided that the tram would be moved to Clay Cross for further storage where the tram remains to this day. Many would like to see
this tram restored to the operational fleet at Crich but until funds can be found this tram is likely to remain out of the public eye at Clay Cross for the foreseeable future.

This view shows Blackpool Dreadnought 59 at the Clay Cross store back on 23rd May 2008. (Photo: Andy Bailey)

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8 Responses to Lost Trams 2: Blackpool Dreadnought 59

  1. Bob Price says:

    I remember in the late 70′s taking this up to Fleetwood on a FTS tour. We were visiting with the BTS and were kindly invited to join the tour. We went up in the daylight and parked it in the loop at Fleetwood (which took a few attempts). We then came back in the dark through all the illuminations.

    Great tour and shame to see it languishing in the shed.

    • Neslite says:

      Love your web site. So much more intelligent rsnoeas to LOVE trams than that other web site with its bogus rsnoeas to hate trams.We currently have a short tourist’ and local community fun tram line. Problem is, we can’t afford to extend it to another local attraction. Can anyone suggest specifically where to get funding to build more tram lines?

  2. Dave Bentley says:

    Hmm Fully agree with you Bob its criminal that one lying in the sheds it should have been at the Blackpool 125 in all its glory. I do hope its a high priority for restoration. This weather I think Blackpool will come to regret disposing of 619 to heaton park, still their gain :)

  3. David Taylor says:

    This entry brings home the comment I made on the subject of Crich aquireing modern stock which are still in service both in Blackpool and with other organisations. Store the ballons and railcars and get the good stuff out of storage. Perhaps it would be a good idea to have a purpose built shed and bring the 14 trams from Clay Cross were people could see them. The Clay Cross site could be sold for redevelopement and the proceeds can be put to restoring the trams. Even if they are given a cosmetic overhall and put in an exhibition hall they will be useful.

    Another course of action would be to let someone else restore them before being reclaimed to run at Crich. There is several trams like 869 that prove a precidence.

  4. Gareth Prior says:

    But what you don’t seem to realise is the cost of bringing 630, 236 and 762 to the operational fleet at Crich is but a small fraction of the cost it would take to restore a tram such as 59 which will need a full overhaul.

  5. Wim Beukenkamp says:

    Crich badly needs new depot space. However, fundraising to build a simple store for the new Blackpool acquisitions failed to attract enough money from the membership. In fact, the entire present depot complex needs a compleet renewal, but where should the money come from? It is quite easy to say to museums like Crich what they should and should not do. Difficulty is putting your money where your mouth is. 630 was saved and overhauled through the financial efforts of a handfull of people. 762 again was saved through the action of a few dedicated enthusiasts. I am still trying desperately to raise enough money to preserve Centenary 648.

  6. Andrew Blood says:

    How can you preserve 648 – it is being retained in the Blackpool heritage fleet indefinitely and as far as I am aware will not be available for Crich or any other museum. It will stay in Blackpool and be enjoyed on its home system. Think Crich may have missed the boat with a Centenary Car – 642 is the only one remaining unclaimed and I believe that even that has now been reserved by another group. Maybe the idea of having a Centenary car at Crich needs to be abadnoned as there arent any sparem especially as the ‘pledge scheme’ appears to have gone very quiet lately.

    • May says:

      We love trams, too. Spent time this summer on the maniifncegt one in Bordeaux, which runs so quietly around town, including down a shopping precinct (think Sparks Street mall). Also, we used the one in Nice a lot, not quite as lovely as the Bordeaux one, but very efficient, fast and quiet. And they took a main street (think Carling Avenue) and ran the tram down the centre, with a lane for traffic on the outside edges. We knew this street pre-tram and it’s much nicer now. We are with you all the way. Too bad our Council is so 20th century. They just don’t seem to get the most fundamental things. Regards to both you and Patty. Look forward to more of these missives.