|Last Updated Sunday 19th October 2008|
|Blackpool Railcoach 200|
The subject of this profile is Blackpool Railcoach 200. This was of course the very first streamlined tram from English Electric to be delivered to Blackpool back in 1933.
Railcoach 200 was totally unique being the prototype versiof revolutionary new tram design not only for the UK but the whole world. The genesis of the design can be traced back to 1932 when the Sales Manager of English Electric, William "Mac" Marshall sketched some designs of a tram as the company sought to get new orders from anywhere really with losses mounting at their Preston headquarters. These initial designs of Marshall were tidied up by the Chief Designer, R.J.Heathman to show a modern looking tram. It is not known where Marshall had in mind when he came up with this idea but the whole concept of the tram did look either as if he wanted European orders or from nearby Blackpool. The first Walter Luff knew of the design was when a few weeks after he had started his job in Blackpool, Marshall visited with the ideas and plans of this brand new tram. Luff was immediately taken with the design and when he presented his Five Year Plan to the Transport Committee he also gave them a quote for a prototype of this new look tram. As is now known the Committee gave approval and English Electric started to construct the tram almost immediately.
The tram was built in Preston and the original pictures of the tram show that it was fitted with a pantograph but was fitted with a trolley before delivery to Blackpool. The tram arrived into Blackpool during the night of 19 June 1933 so it was there to achieve the maximum impact possible with the impending Conference of Municipal Transport Managers in the resort. The tram made its first test run in Blackpool just after 11pm on the same day when it was tried out on the Promenade route and by all accounts performed perfectly. The tram was then displayed on a siding at Gynn Square so that it could be inspected by all the Transport Managers - just what Marshall wanted so he could show it off. The inagural run in public service happened just 5 days after arrival in Blackpool (could you imagine that happening in this day and age?) on 24 June and it was almost univesally given the green light by the people of Blackpool. Not only were the local press interested in this new tram there was international media exposure for the tram which was not only good news for Marshall and English Electric but also Blackpool as it seemed to show them as having a modernist outlook.
We now know that the tram was almost immediately to be joined by some sisters when 2 days later the Transport Committee approved the construction of 24 further trams, although they would be slightly different.
The tram soon settled in and was mainly used on the Fleetwood service from North Station,e number 1 service (the only tram service in Blackpool to ever be numbered). They were not exclusively used on this route though, with the Squires Gate route the next favourite, and then any of the other routes were not strangers to these trams and as such operated from any of the depots. Our subject here, 200, had been stored in Marton Depot after withdrawal and was then unfortunately scrapped with 4 other trams there from 3-9 March in 1963 with the scrap metal and the depot closed finally on 8 April of the same year. There was a proposal at one stage that 200 could join the fledgling Tramway Museum Society but they had no storage space and so Walter Luff had to withdraw the plan and felt he had no option but to scrap the tram along with all other First Series English Electric Railcoaches.
Author: Gareth Prior
Author: Gareth Prior
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