Picture in Time: Blackpool Coronation 663

Its 1969 for the latest edition of Picture in Time and we are once again on the Lancashire coast and Blackpool as we take a look at one of the surviving Coronation Cars.

This tram was built as 327 in 1953 entering service in Blackpool in the last month of that year (the penultimate of the popular with enthusiasts class of trams to both be delivered to and enter service on the tramway). The troublesome VAMBAC equipment remained fitted to 327 until the start of 1967 when it received the conventional Z4 controllers. Renumbering to 663 followed in 1968 and after soldiering on until the end of the 1974 season the tram was withdrawn from service. Saved for preservation 663 left in 1976 and then led a nomadic life around the north of England with stays in Lytham, Southport, Bradford, St Helens and Richmond before in 2003 it returned to Blackpool and joined the Lancastrian Transport Trust collection at Brinwell Road. Some work was undertaken here but following the transfer of the LTT trams to the Blackpool Heritage Trust 663 finally returned to Rigby Road in December 2013.

In this image we see 663 running past the Tower with a service for Starr Gate on 29th July 1969. The tram is carrying the half green/half cream with orange trolley tower livery and also has roof advert boxes which seem to be advertising the centenary of the Amateur Swimming Association.

Photograph by Tony Sullivan

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6 Responses to Picture in Time: Blackpool Coronation 663

  1. HowieB says:

    Not everyone’s favourite, but I have fond memories of the Coronations. Our summer holidays in Cleveleys back in the late 1950’s consisted of a coach ride from Manchester LMS to Blackpool, a short walk down Lytham Rd to the prom and (hopefully) a Coronation en route to Fleetwood would draw up first. These cars were capable of a high turn of speed especially on the slope down towards Anchorsholme, more exhilarating than any ride on the Pleasure Beach!

  2. Mike Thomas says:

    Great trams to work. Did 3 separate summer seasons as a student 1961/62/63 conducting on Blackpool Trams. As an enthusiast to get a ‘Spiv’ on Fleetwood service was the best turn – you knew you had done a days work especially if you left the Ferry around 12 noon, at Ash Street you got a 3 bell load with the ladies out of the fish factory going home (and you could get a lot on a Coronation car !), all off before Broadwater. They got nicknamed Spivs because they were said to be heavy on current consumption but they could fair accelerate and they were a good ride especially on the reserved sections on the north end.

    • the old driver on salvage squad told how they got the name “spivs”like the dodgy wartime wheeler dealers ,flash & nice to look at at but not all they seemed underneath….brilliant

  3. John Hibbert says:

    I too have fond early ’60s childhood memories of rides on them to/from Cleveleys. My mum had an aunt who lived in Cleveleys and we went to stay with her a couple of times a year. Our regular means to get there was an excursion train from the Manchester area to Blackpool North then a no.1 tram. (not a Coronation, of course – one of Bispham depot’s stock) Then one sad Easter – must have been 1964 – we came out of the station to find no tram……a devastating shock for a little tram fan!

  4. nostalgicyetprogressive says:

    I remember childhood holidays in Fleetwood during the late 1960’s, usually the first week in August, when these trams together with the Balloons (many with double destination blinds) dominated the Fleetwood to Starr Gate service. I recall being bemused when the Z Controllers began to appear in these trams, as I had come to associate them with the old ‘noisy’ trams (I think the street track in Fleetwood must have been mostly corrugated at that time). As I recall towards the end of their working time in Blackpool, that 663 had become something of a clanking rattletrap, but not quite as bad as 661; slightly worse than 655. 662 was exceptionally smooth and quiet when I enjoyed my final ride on it in October 1973. I believe that 655 was in a better physical condition than 663 but by the time interest was shown in preserving a car of this class, a start had been made on dismantling 655 and the controllers had been removed.

    • Ken Walker says:

      I also had childhood holidays in Fleetwood starting in the late 50s – my mother wouldn’t go anywhere else! Railcoaches, Coronations, Pantograph cars and Balloons were the norm then. I remember noticing the double blind and single blind balloons but at the time didn’t realise the singles were rebuilds of the doubles and assumed they were different batches. I vaguely remember the trolley reverser at Blackpool North and seeing a Marton Vambac struggling to get round a corner in Blackpool town centre due to badly parked cars – so not a recent development!

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