Blackpool Transport have announced that the heritage tram fleet in the seaside town is to be boosted by the reactivation of another tram following a lengthy period of storage. The vehicle in question is Blackpool Boat car 602, which last ran on the final weekend of the 2010 illuminations. The car did not operate during 2011 as it did not have transponders fitted, and plans to repaint it as the George Formby tram in 2012 were changed when sister car 604 was discovered to be in a better condition.
Presumably inspired by the phenomenal success of the recent heritage tram operating days, it has now been decided that a third Boat car would be a useful and popular addition to the running fleet, and the work required for 602 to return to service has now been sanctioned. Indeed, the tram has already spent some time in the workshops where its condition has been assessed, allowing estimates of the likely costs involved to be made. This fantastic news was announced to the world by Bryan Lindop of Blackpool Transport on Saturday 25th May, when he travelled to North Pier aboard Bolton 66 (the first heritage tram to appear that day) to greet the waiting crowd of enthusiasts and share the news of 602‘s return. It is expected that the Boat car will be worked on over the summer, with a view to it re-entering service on the August Bank Holiday weekend – giving fans of the traditional tram fleet the perfect excuse for yet another visit to Blackpool this year!
Having worn a striking yellow and black livery for more than twenty years, it was decided that it was time for a change of colour scheme for 602. With all of the other Boat cars in the UK painted green and cream, it has been decided to repaint it in the 1920s Blackpool Corporation colours of cream and red, giving an impression of how the streamliners might have looked had the new green fleet livery not been adopted in the 1930s. This will maintain the long-running tradition of painting the Boats in unique colour schemes, and should ensure that 602 will stand out alongside its sisters when it enters service in its new guise later this year.
Once again, full credit goes to Blackpool Transport – and Bryan Lindop in particular – for approving the return to use of another popular vintage tram, and ensuring that all three of the Boat trams still in Blackpool have a bright future ahead of them on their native system.