Twin Twins for 2015 illuminations season

It has been announced that yet another member of Blackpool’s heritage tram fleet is to be returned to service this year, with Twin set 675+685 the latest to benefit from workshop attention. The duo have already been split up and are set to be repainted before returning to use for the 2015 illuminations season.

675+685 last ran in passenger service on the final day of the 2011 season, when they operated a special farewell tour for the Fylde Tramway Society – appropriately enough, the other tram to feature on that tour was Balloon 715 which has of course also been restored to service this year. That evening was also the last time that two Twin sets were running together on the Blackpool tramway, but hopefully that will happen again before too long now that set 5 are in the works.

During May, 675+685 were split and 685 is to be tackled first, being moved into the Paint Shop where it is currently being prepared for repainting. The livery it will receive is being kept a secret for the moment, but it has been confirmed that it will differ from 272+T2 which carry the original all-cream livery worn by this class. Unless the trams are painted in Metro Coastlines livery again (which seems unlikely but certainly isn’t impossible), this will end the Metro liveries’ presence on the tram fleet with the sole exception of Towing car 671 which returned to the fold earlier this year; however as it is currently intended as a parts donor rather than a restoration candidate, it cannot really be considered a member of the heritage fleet and so arguably doesn’t count.

However set 5 are painted, having two Twin cars operational after a gap of four years is definitely something to look forward to for later on this year, and it also speaks volumes regarding the success and faith being placed in the heritage tour operations that a second Twin car is now considered to be a worthwhile investment. It has been stated that 675+685 will be a useful asset during the annual autumn illuminations, and if available then volunteer guards will hopefully allow these trams to be well used on illumination tour duties, helping to shift the large crowds at weekends and during the notoriously busy October school holidays.

Incidentally, 272+T2 have also been through the works recently after suffering from a high-profile electrical fault earlier this month. As a result the pair missed the late May Bank Holiday period but are expected to be back in action again soon.

6th November 2011, and the sun sets on not only the traditional tramway but also 675+685's operating career - at least that's what we thought at the time! This was almost certainly the last day of use for this tram in Metro colours, however. (Photo by Andrew Waddington)

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23 Responses to Twin Twins for 2015 illuminations season

  1. Peter Watts says:

    And of course Set 5 will be fitted with a set of new “Heritage” destination blinds which are already in my “production schedule” for this summer. What style will the blinds be? As with the livery, all will be revealed in September!

  2. edwin newton says:

    Wasn’t a twin set purchased by someone up there and is in storage.It would,in my own opinion,be nice to have more twin sets operating at peak times.Maybe they were sold off in haste.

    • Connor Lowrey says:

      I know that there’s one up north In store in the NEETT Depot but don’t know where the other two are.

      • Connor Lowrey says:

        I know where the other one is set 3 is at Fleetwood set 1 is Spare parts so basically no set 1 then set 4 is at neett and Blackpool transport has the rest(sets 2, 5 and 6)

    • Christopher Callan says:

      Your correct David Hunt owns Twin Set 673+683. It resides outside the docks at Fleetwood. From recent conversation he reiterated his desire to see it go to Beamish Museum and claimed it was likely to materialize. Blackpool Still have Twin Set 676+686 & the Motor Car 671 so if they did decide to want a third twin possible to use what they already have. Personally plenty more projects other that looking to re acquire an additional twin. Perhaps if they ripped the roof off it would make it useful Open Top Twin.

      Anyway i digress. Back to positive news that Twin Set 675+685 is being reactivated. Shows Blackpool Heritage Trust & Blackpool Transport Services commitment to establishing a world class Blackpool collection.

    • Christopher Callan says:

      Regarding “selling off in haste” to an extent nobody could have predicted potential growth of the operation. Think they were right to dispose of most that left. Hindsight suggests should have charged a higher price per tram and or built in recall buy back option preventing shameless profiteering. Personally i think any more acquisitions should be to fill gaps.

      Anyway lets focus on what is fantastic achievement. Rather than worrying about another twin. A second set to repainted and reactivated is an incredible achievement.

      • Andrew Waddington says:

        Let’s also remember that, at the time when these trams were sold off, it was doubtful that the Rigby Road depot would be retained meaning that there would have been nowhere to house anything other than a tiny number of token ‘vintage’ cars (such as 147 & 600), including the illuminated cars. Hindsight is a wonderful thing – let’s just be thankful that not everything found a buyer and that some trams were able to find their way back!

        • John says:

          You are correct, the original plan for a Heritage Depot at Starr gate had a maximum of 20 Trams, depending on size! and the Train and Twin counted as 2. We are very fortunate that Rigby Road is, for the moment, safe and able to accommodate the expandded fleet and the wayward sons which have come home!

  3. John says:

    There is also set 6 in store at Rigby Road still.

  4. Nathan says:

    Has 675 already been fitted with heritage blinds? I ask because a photo of it on the “other” tram news site shows it with block white, upright lettering resembling the style used when they carried the green skirt livery…

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      No – those are the ones it had when it last ran, and indeed it has had them for many years! The trailer had yellow lettering on its blinds when it last operated so presumably a new matching pair will be installed with 675’s old blind being put in the archives.

      • Peter Watts says:

        The blinds in 675 are as Andrew says the ones that were last fitted, and indeed 685 has yellow blinds fitted. I am currently working on the new set of Heritage blinds, and both blinds currently installed will be removed and put into BHT’s archive blind collection.

  5. edwin newton says:

    Chris,not to spoil readers hopes,but Mr Hunt has made many comments about his trailer set and destinations.He has mentioned Birkenhead,Mersey,Beamish.The reality is that Beamish it is rumoured has no room for it anyway,although perhaps it could be stored outside.As it is,it is in a secure compound in Fleetwood by agreement with the FHLT.

  6. Paul Jarman says:

    Just to help clarify the matter re the twin set and Beamish – we have not had any discussions with Mr Hunt, have no desire to obtain or operate a twin set and are looking at the next five years or so focussing on our own fleet of trams as they come to expensive renewals of such things as tyres etc. Future loans/visiting trams are in discussion, but not of a twin set which would be about as unsuitable for our operation as is possible to imagine! Hope this helps stem the rumours around this subject. Twin sets look very nice running in Blackpool!

  7. edwin newton says:

    Thank you Paul for giving out the information.It would seem then that Mr Hunts twin set will be residing on Fleetwood docks for some time then.My own personal view is that these twin sets are valuable assets and should be running again on Blackpool promenade.As,if it is true,Mr Hunts own twin set was one of the best,then if pressure was put on Blackpool council then his could be returned to Rigby road.Blackpool transport could could do some commissioning and it could be back on the prom.Of course,there would be the expense transferring .Up to the present time,I would imagine quite a lot of expense has built up with moving them from one place to another,not to mention rental costs.

    • Christopher Callan says:

      Frankly Edwin think Bryan and his team perfectly capable of building the collection as they see fit. Seem perfectly capable people who gone about the process diligently. Mr Lindop certainly needs no pressure from us. Another Twin set does little for the operation as it looks to tell the blackpool story. Dreadnoughts, Conduit Cars, Marton Vambacs, Works Cars (the list goes on) of cars out their that offer greater value in returning to the collection. Filling priceless gaps in the story. As for the Twins rental costs that is an issue for the FHLT & Mr Hunt. Certainly would be massive assumption that re commissioning of it wouldn’t be expensive and time consuming it has been languishing outside for some time. Plenty of other projects in Rigby Road without worrying a additional duplicate. Two Pairs seems ideal with a third in storage.

  8. edwin newton says:

    Fair game Chris.I suppose Mr Hunts set could be broken up and used for spares then,or destined for the smelter.As the saying goes,once its gone,its gone.I would imagine the FHLT would be agreeable to that but as you rightly say,its between that group and Mr Hunt.It would be a shame to have gone all this way and no place for his set to go to.But then of course,if this situation regarding a twin set available,was to be put to certain members of Blackpool council,all this could change.After all,Blackpool transport is a company owned by Blackpool council,who,is representing the Blackpool residents and ratepayers.Brian and company do a sterling job,but,at the end of the day,are just paid servants of the council,or rather,the residents.Don’t write Mr Hunts set off just yet.I would think that the FHLT would be happy to see the back of it,and one is assuming after all outstanding bills,arrears,rates,have been paid off,by someone.

    • Christopher Callan says:

      Frankly any attempt to undermine Blackpool Heritage Trusts collection policy (separate from the council and currently in the process of charitable status) would be unwise to put it mildly. They command the full support of Blackpool Council & the Blackpool Transport board. I reiterate the point that they are more than capable concluding acquisitions as they see fit. Operation has bigger fish to fry than accumulating yet another duplicate. You allude the rate payers if you give them the choice of Rocket been quicker done or getting yet another twin set and paying a group of enthusiasts for the trouble of looking after it know which one they would pick…. Certainly vast majority of the public just want a flavour of the past. They wants trams in different shapes and sizes. They couldnt care less whether enthusiasts get the perceived nicer twinset…

      You allude to outstanding debts that will need to be paid off. Makes any acquisition even less palatable and makes what seems a unnecessary extravagance even more remote. Makes Mr Hunts twin set even less likely. NEETT have always said they would lend trams out (they have a twin set). Mersey Travels are up for disposal without any debts attached. So if for some reason a forth (yes forth) Twin Set was wanted plenty of other options.

      • Ken Walker says:

        Regarding a 3rd twin set, to play devil’s advocate for (only!) a moment, BHT have 3 Coronations so why not?
        Now to get back to reality; I fully agree Chris. Restoration of 279 or 624 to operational status as railcoaches in original condition (seriously needed as none currently exist), or return of something like the Dreadnought as filling gaps in ‘the story’ would surely be far preferable to not a duplicate but a triplicate twin car. BHT cannot be expected to fund and carry out unlimited restorations, not to mention space to keep them all and the fact that the more vehicles they have the less time each vehicle is likely to spend in service. And as we all know, long periods of inactivity do not do the electrics any good. My personal wish (and I accept that it is very unlikely to ever occur!) would be to see a Coronation, an original condition railcoach, a green balloon and 167 lined up together at Fleetwood Ferry (not Bold Street terminus) to recreate scenes that I used to witness during my holidays at Fleetwood in the late 50s / early 60s! As I say, I realise that in the remote chance that this was to ever happen I would see it as a MASSIVE bonus!

  9. edwin newton says:

    Chris,as much as you and all of us support the Trust,please understand that it is Blackpool council who is at the back of anything that is to do with the transport dept or the Trust.One can assume,guess,and come up with all sorts of ideas but it is all down at the end of the day to do with money.Believe me when I say that nothing happens in the town,whatever it is,without the council giving the nod,and paying the bills.Financially,the town is on the edge of a cliff.The council at this present time just cannot give money away.A Blackpool museum of transport is quite possibly years away.Brian and his team could have retired by then.The council planning department are aiming to build as many houses in that area and there is the danger.You need to reside in the town,know certain people in the right quarters to know what’s going on.Private backers would be a great help in having a museum of transport and not just for tramcars but for other things to make it pay for itself.It wouldn’t survive on just tram enthusiasts.Don’t count on Lottery money either and I for one would like it to succeed.

    • Gareth Prior says:

      We seem to rapidly be getting off the subject of the original story. Can we please try and keep on the topic of the story please?

  10. Paul D says:

    Can we ask if the ‘Edwin Newton’ who on 27th May posted the naive and vague question about a “twin set purchased by someone and in storage” that started this conversation, is the same ‘Edwin Newton’ who in posts on 31st May and 2nd June appears to have intimate knowledge of Mr Hunt and his twinset, and claims inside knowledge of both the financial dealings of the FHLT and the relationships between Blackpool Council, Blackpool Transport and the Heritage Trust?

    On the face of it, unless one of more of the posts in the name of ‘Edwin Newton’ is a fake from someone else using his name, it would appear that the first post was deliberately made to provoke the off-topic discussions that followed.

    Would the real ‘Edwin Newton’ please step forward…

    • edwin newton says:

      Paul,I step forward.What do you want to know.Firstly,I move about a lot but have extremely strong connections with Blackpool including members of various building companies,members of the council.I could go on.I have always had,like most of us,an interest in the transportation side of things and do look forward to seeing a Blackpool museum,not only of trams but of other things that has contributed to the towns history.I support any person who takes time out of their busy working life to make things happen,or at least have a go.if any of the readers out there suspect that what I write is some sort of “wind up”,then think again.What I do write is exactly how the situation is.In my line of work,I actually pay rates to Blackpool council,something that a lot of you don’t.By doing so,and through my work,I and the residents,ratepayers of the town can see how Blackpool council are struggling financially.As I mentioned before,it could be years before a museum is actually established.The town is virtually bankrupt and when local residents are complaining about blocked drains,potholes,council payoffs,a museum is the last thing they will be thinking of.Any museum will only be set up with private financial backing.Whenever I am back in Blackpool,I do try to attend meetings but as I said before,watch out for the council planners.

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