Historic trams return to resort
It's a real homecoming for two historic trams which have returned to Blackpool after being donated back to the resort.
The double deck balloon tram 703 and single deck Brush rail coach 621, both dating back to the 1930s, have been at the Beamish Museum in County Durham for the last few years.
But when they became surplus to requirements there, it was decided to bring the pair back to Blackpool.
Now they are set to be lovingly restored and should be running along the Prom next year as part of the town’s heritage service.
It brings the total number of vehicles in the heritage fleet to 32 with about 20 of those currently operating, and others waiting to be restored.
Bryan Lindop, heritage tram manager at Blackpool Transport, said: “Both of the trams need some work doing on them, but it is nothing that our engineering department can’t undertake.
“By 2018 we hope to have them both back in the heritage fleet and operating on the Promenade.
“The double deck balloon tram was renumbered the 101 at Beamish and is in the red and cream livery of the Sunderland trams.
“I’m not sure yet whether we will repaint it or not, because it is quite striking as it is.
“The single deck Brush rail coach is significant because it was the first one of its type to be built.”
The trams were sold off when Blackpool Transport broke up its old fleet ahead of the introduction of the modern Flexity tram service in 2012.
They were later acquired by Beamish which has now donated them free of charge to the Blackpool heritage fleet based at Blackpool Transport’s Rigby Road depot.
It is also another positive step towards hopes of creating a tram-based visitor attraction at the depot.
Mr Lindop said: “We are hopeful that in the next five years we’ll be open for business so people can come along and see the work being done on the trams, and also see the trams on display.
“We are just waiting for the Blackpool Heritage Trust to gain its charitable status and that will open up lots of funding sources for us.”
The heritage service operates at times including weekends, Easter holidays, during July and August and during the Illuminations.
Passengers can board at special stops.
Mr Lindop added: “The service is doing really well and is the top rated visitor attraction in Blackpool on Trip Advisor.
“It’s looking like the 2016/17 financial year will have been our most successful to date.”
The service is largely run by full trained volunteers who act as drivers and conductors alongside Blackpool Transport’s paid staff.
Revenue from the service pays for engineering work.