Bon voyage to Boat 233

Thursday 19th September saw the dreaded day arrive, when Blackpool Boat car 233/605 finally left Beamish Museum to begin its long journey to San Francisco, after being sold by its previous owners, the Lancastrian Transport Trust. All attempts to block the move – which included formal complaints about the sale being made to the national Charities Commission – have sadly been in vain, and the tram is now well on the way towards becoming history as far as the UK is concerned.

More than two weeks after it was prepared for departure, 233 was loaded onto a lorry provided by Scott’s Heavy Haulage (who previously delivered the tram to Beamish some 18 months earlier) on the morning of September 19th. Despite rumours that its collection had been delayed, this was in fact the date which had been arranged with Beamish Museum. The sombre mood of the occasion was complimented by heavy rain which blighted the loading process. The trolley tower – which had been removed from the car on Monday 2nd September, mere hours after its last passenger journeys in Britain – was placed inside one saloon and fastened down for safe keeping during 233‘s long journey by road and sea to America, via Southampton Docks. However, unlike the previous Boat car to be exported (car 606, in 2000) the tram has retained its modern windscreens which were fitted in 1990. Needless to say, it looked considerably better when it left Beamish than when it arrived there in March 2012, having been superbly repainted with British Trams Online funding, and of course it has also received other repairs during its time in the North East.

Unfortunately, just to add insult to injury, it was noted that 233 has sustained some minor accident damage at one end. Although not known for sure, recent photos of the car inside the depot at Beamish did not show any damage, suggesting that this probably occurred during the loading process. A fender at one end has been distorted, which appears to have caused some minor panel damage as well. Although this should be easy enough to correct, it just adds further bad feeling to what was already a very dark day for the British tramway preservation movement. It seems that all hope of 233 staying in its home country is now gone, but hopefully the tram will be greatly enjoyed in its new home.

Up she goes! Blackpool 233 is gently winched onto the Scott's low loader before bidding farewell to the North East - and soon, the UK - for the final time. (Photo courtesy of the Beamish Transport & Industry Blog)



This entry was posted in Blackpool Tramway. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Bon voyage to Boat 233

  1. Ken Walker says:

    “The tram is well on the way to becoming history as far as the UK is concerned”. Hopefully the same can be said of its previous owners.

    • CTC says:

      Couldnt have put it better myself. The Lacastrian Transport Traitors/Traders/Something else beginning with T… are everything that is wrong with the preservation movement

      • I absolutely agree with all these comments. It is a sad day for the preservation movement, that has, for many decades, had the reputation for selfless and enthusiastic contributions to retaining and being custodians of our transport heritage. I sincerely hope that this is the end of the LTT and its shady dealings, and that the movement as a whole rises, phoenix like, from the ashes of this affair, and that valuable lessons are learned and ‘Trust’ of the true kind is restored.

  2. Steve Jones says:

    Sadly it looks like this shameful episode is now drawing to a close, and it’s time to move on.

    It’s to be hoped however the enthusiast community does not forget the way sponsors, shareholders and other tram preservation bodies wishes have been ignored by the LTT in the disposal of 233. I would suggest a boycott of any future event they may stage would be appropriate, and for the few donors that still may be contributing should stop payment without further delay.

    It is surprising the Charity Commission have decided not to investigate the matter of the disposal of 233 further. Perhaps if they had considered the wider picture and other concerns they may have decided differently? The LTT has for a number of years consistently submitted its accounts late to the Charity Commission. This is highlighted on the CC website, and is something on which the Charity Commission normally takes a very dim view. Why are they consistently late I wonder?

    It is noted the latest accounts are again late. If/when they do appear it will be interesting to see if they show how much the sale of 233 actually yielded, and where the proceeds were used. It will also be interesting to see how the LTT balance sheet is affected by the passing of the trams to the proposed new charitable trust, given the trams are currently listed as assets. Finally the intriguing Gift Aid figure may once again raise some eyebrows!

    • Colin Smith says:

      Unfortunately Steve, the currently late accounts will not show the proceeds of the sale of this asset. That will/should form part of the next accounts. However, I rather suspect that whoever is responsible for submission of the accounts will disguise the receipt .

      One other point about the lateness of the accounts. From previous experience of another charity, I would suspect that the CC might hold up the dissolution of LTT and subsequent formation/registration of the new trust until such time as all outstanding statutory requirements are met by the LTT.

      I fully agree with your other points

      • Andrew Waddington says:

        I’m not convinced that this will hold up the formation of the new trust… after all the LTT isn’t being dissolved, it will continue (though for how much longer must be questioned) with the vintage buses, and they do still own a very small number of trams – 663, 671 & 703 at last count.

        • Steve Jones says:

          You are of course right Colin, the transaction for the sale of 233 will not appear in the accounts for the year ending 31st October 2012, now 20 days overdue (you would think 11 months was sufficient time to prepare the accounts of a small charity wouldn’t you??).

          The sale of 233 should appear in the accounts for year ending 31st October 2013. Given the abyssmal record of the LTT in meeting its legal obligation to submit its accounts on time to the Charity Commission, it will probably be sometime in 2015 when these accounts actually appear. Maybe then we will have some clue as to where the proceeds of the 233 sale were used – or maybe not! Probably best to look at the Classic Bus North West accounts for the same period (or Red Rocket Bus Company, or Oakwood Travel etc etc).

          This of course assumes either organisation is still in existence, which must now be in some doubt. Looking at the last set of submitted LTT accounts, it would appear only very high (unrealistic?) asset value of the LTT’s trams and buses made the balance sheet look reasonable. Take away the asset value of the trams that will pass to the new trust, and based on these accounts, the LTT could be judged insolvent. Charity law does of course forbid a charity to continue to function and seek donations if it is insolvent. As for CBNW, the loadings on its two current routes tell their own story about its chances for survival!

          Although the 233 sale has been a sorry tale, it is gratifying to note that the LTT is now under serious scrutiny by many people, including those with financial knowledge and experience. This is unlikely to go away.

        • Colin Smith says:

          I completely forgot about their other interests.

  3. Frank Gradwell says:

    Much though I enjoyed seeing and riding on 228 the last time I was in San Francisco – together with sampling many other vintage cars – and much beer and seafood, one must wonder why, when – is it 601? – languishes at Rio Vista only fifty miles from the Bay, utterly derelict, that it could not have been bought and renovated for the cost of the acquisition and transport of 233.

    The Trustees of the LTT should be blackballed from the entire preservation world for this disgrace!

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      Apparently 601’s owners were contacted but refused to sell it!

    • jarlath oley says:

      I saw the San Francisco boatram at Rio Vista (Western Railway Museum) a few weeks back. It is in undercover storage and appears to be in fine shape cosmetically. The volunteer showing me around stated it is in need of mechanical repair. I think it an exaggeration to say it is “utterly derelict”.

  4. John Docherty says:

    I saw 605 in the shed at Beamish on Wednesday and there was no damage to the fenders then

  5. Nigel Pennick says:

    I hope Market Street Railway appreciates its second boat and it does not end up in the car barn along with dozens of other trams in varying states of repair, or, worse, be broken up for spares for their other Blackpool boat.

    • Andrew Batty says:

      It is highly unlikely the boat will be used for spares. They will have bought the second one because they have a market for it, not only on the F line but also the on Embarcadero E line due to the boat being double ended. There is a certain irony about a California based museum not selling a boat. Perhaps they know the value of things, not just the price.

  6. moz says:

    Should have stayed in uk. Nottingham/midland metro could have made great use from this tram special run between two locations in an open top tram.

    • freel07 says:

      Sorry but it would have been totally incompatible with those 2 systems. To start with the position of it’s pantograph (and yes it would need a pantograph) in the centre makes it incompatible with the overhead.

  7. SP says:

    Interesting comments regarding 601.

    Does anyone know why the Western Railway Museum wouldn’t sell or what longterm plans they have for it?

  8. Frank Gradwell says:

    Apologies – it was some years ago that I saw 601 – good to hear that it has been, at least, cosmetically restored – but how silly for it remain half way up I80 when it could be so more visible on the embarcadero!

Comments are closed.