A very special announcement –
In a landmark agreement, Brush car 634 is to return home to the Blackpool tramway to join the heritage fleet at Rigby Road following its donation to the Blackpool Heritage Trust by Andy Ashton, who saved the tram for preservation back in July 2009.
Save for a few trams released for preservation prior to 2009, 634 was actually the first of the trams to be sold for private preservation as part of the major dispersal of the traditional fleet in the years leading up to the tramway upgrade in 2012. 634, which had last operated in 2004, was selected by Andy as being in the best and most original condition of those available for purchase, and following a farewell run along Hopton Road, departed Blackpool for the first time in its life for preservation at the Rushden Historical Transport Society Museum in Northamptonshire, in November 2009. Although stored outside at Rushden, Andy (along with his daughter’s Bekki and Jess) set about restoring some of the former glory to 634, and over the following months and years traditional varnished woodwork began to emerge from beneath the latter day white paint, whilst plastic ‘Darvic’ interior panels were replaced with more traditional materials. One feature restored to the interior was the slender green glasses along the cant rail, which had for many years been hidden behind Formica, and which had not yet been seen on any other restored example. Finally, the latter day advertising livery was replaced by a smart coat of green and cream in the 1990’s style.
Outside storage is often not kind to trams, but Andy continued to care for 634 during its years in the open, and ensured that it was kept watertight and able to move freely for short distances along the track on which it was stored.
In May 2014 a deal was agreed with the North Eastern Electrical Traction Trust which saw 634 move to the North East for secure undercover storage where it joined a number of other former Blackpool trams. Once undercover, Andy, along with Bekki and Jess, continued to lavish attention on 634 despite now having a round trip of over 400 miles. Most recently they have produced and fitted original style clocks above the cab bulkhead doors in each saloon – which look absolutely stunning!
Following a tentative approach from the Blackpool Heritage Trust, who recognised 634 as the best choice of the trams which might potentially be available to bolster the fleet in Blackpool, Andy has very generously agreed to donate the tram to the BHT. This will allow it to come home as a permanent member of the heritage fleet, and run once again on the tramway for which it was built 79 years ago! Transfer of 634 from the site of the North East Land, Sea and Air Museums to Rigby Road is expected in the next few weeks where the car will be attended to and prepared for service. However, it should be noted that due to workshop availability it is unlikely that 634 will enter service during 2016.
We would like to place on record our sincere gratitude to Andy for his generosity in donating 634 to the Blackpool Heritage Trust, and for his sterling efforts in ensuring the tram’s survival in good condition over the past few years. Andy will still be maintaining the Facebook page www.facebook.com/BrushCar634 which, as well as our own social media sites, will continue to chart developments with the tram.
(Photo: Bradley Jones)