Blackpool Brush Car 298 restoration moves forward

Work may not have resumed yet on the restoration of Blackpool Brush Car 298 at Crich but another major and significant milestone has been reached in the project with confirmation that the Tramcar Sponsorship Organisation and the Tramway Museum Society have signed the formal contracts for the restoration of the tramcar. It is expected to cost £373,000 to return the tram to service with 298 due to be moved back to Crich by the end of this year.

The funding for the restoration of the tram will come from the long-standing Blackpool Railcoach Fund and the TSO. 298 was withdrawn from passenger service in Blackpool way back in 1974. The tram may well hold the distinction of the longest restoration in tram preservation as some work was started back in the 1970s – led by Keith Terry  – but it still requires significant attention to return it to the rails, not least to the underframe as well as a full rewire along with attention to the bodywork. The construction of the new underframe will be contracted out with this being the first major part of the work.

298 is currently stored at the Tramway Museum Society’s off-site store at Clay Cross but will be returned to Crich later this year.  It won’t be 298’s first move to Crich as it was previously displayed in its unrestored condition there between 2005 and 2014 before heading to Clay Cross for further storage.

Whilst there may be some of you thinking this is duplicating a type of tram already seen running in preservation (630 at Crich, 621 and 631 at Blackpool and 623 at Heaton Park), 298 will be the only one to be restored back to its original 1937 condition and is bound to be a popular all weather single-decker in the fleet at Crich once work has been completed. The tram will see sliding roofs, curved roof windows, 48 luxury upholstered seats, heaters and a clock above the entrance to the driver’s cab at each end restored as part of the work.

Preparations have been ongoing for the last couple of years for the work to commence in earnest (including looking at original drawings of the Brush Cars and checking what previous work was completed). 298 will be the next major project to go through the workshops at Crich following on from London County Council 1 and Newcastle 102. It is hoped that the tram will be completed by 2024.

Frank Bagshaw, TSO Secretary, said: “This is an exciting development, and it has been important to negotiate such a contract with the TMS to ensure a tight control over expectations and finance. It lays the groundwork for future restoration projects.”

Long-term contributor to the fund, Keith Chadbourne (a TMS member and volunteer as well as regular contributor to British Trams Online), said: “At long last we can demonstrate what a 1930’s Art-deco tramcar looked like, and how it set the scene for modern tramways of the future”.

New contributors to the TSO are always welcome and details on this can be obtained from the TSO Treasurer, 2 Mayflower Cottages, Standish, Wigan, Lancashire, WN1 2UR or by emailing

The original look of the Brush Cars is shown with this promotional image taken at Brush’s Loughborough Works before delivery to Blackpool.

The original interior of a Brush Car. Over the next few years this will be recreated in 298. (Both Photographs courtesy of Crich Tramway Village)

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4 Responses to Blackpool Brush Car 298 restoration moves forward

  1. nostalgicyetprogressive says:

    More encouraging news indeed! The Brush Car was probably the most stylish and impressive tramcar to run in Blackpool if not the British Isles. Subsequent tramcar developments in Blackpool could almost be seen as a retrograde step. It is important that a Brush Car can be displayed in all its Art Deco glory and therefore such a project as this can hardly be claimed to duplicate any other efforts in the preservation of this class of tram. Barring any unforeseen difficulties, this work should be completed in good time for the 90th anniversary of the Brush Cars, although it would be better if the tram could remain in the safe custody of the TMS rather than be the subject of loans as it will be a rare gem of the transport world. This, I understand, is what Keith Terry would have preferred.

  2. John1 says:

    Knowing Keith, I have to disagree. He would very much have wanted it to be able to stretch its legs to Fleetwood once again. I’m quite saddened by your our tram and you can’t play with it attitude and your implying that nowhere else would take care of it.

  3. nostalgicyetprogressive says:

    I recall on a visit some time ago to Mode Wheel works to view progress on 298, that Keith Terry expressed a view that 298 should go nowhere near Blackpool. However, to be fair, that was in the days when any tramcar loaned to Blackpool would be called upon to augment the normal passenger fleet – I recall Bolton 66 loaded with passengers bound for Fleetwood Market on a Tuesday on more than one occasion. I suspect he was concerned it could be run into the ground, especially as the perception was that trams returning from loan periods in Blackpool never turned a wheel again such as Edinburgh 35 (following a detour via the Glasgow Garden Festival) and Howth 10. That said, it is possible trams such as these were in need of an overhaul prior to the loan.
    Of course the Blackpool scene has changed a good deal since then and with a dedicated team caring for a cherished heritage fleet, it is likely that the idea of sending 298 to Blackpool would now be rather more appealing and somewhat less appalling. Nonetheless, all the care in the world cannot protect a tram against the errors of other road users, including careless taxi drivers who pull out of the Metropole car park without proper observation. I recall a picture in a book about accidents on the Blackpool Tramway (I thinks it was titled ‘Sorry Not In Service’) of an accident at that very location in which a van had been in an argument with a Centenary Car and lost (the van appeared to be a write-off)! However the tram had also sustained a massive dent in its front off side panelling. So there is an ever present risk for resident and visiting tramcars alike.
    I believe that if a loan of 298 were to occur, it would be great for either the 125th Anniversary of the Blackpool and Fleetwood Tramroad in 2023 if ready by then or else the 150th of the Blackpool Tramway in 2035, although it is almost certain I won’t be around by then (if indeed for the earlier event)!

  4. John1 says:

    To be fair 35 eeked out the very last of its operationa life in Blackpool and Glasgow. 10 has athorough rebuild and it was political why it never ran at Crich when it came back.
    Accidents in the real worls are an ever present danger for museum cars on loan I agree. And yes Trams were required to be available 24/7 if required which they no longer are.
    I think it all depends on the post Covid Heritage world also as to whether any potential loan would occur.

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