Rocket 732

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The first Illuminated Feature trams were constructed in 1925 as a Gondola and Lifeboat. Others were added over time, but from 1959 it was decided to provide passenger tours using the first of a new series of feature cars – the Blackpool Belle, Paddlesteamer. A second feature car was built in 1961 using the frame of Pantograph tram 168 of 1928. This was “Tramnik One” a space Rocket based loosely on Sputnik. The underframe was designed as a launch pad, which disguised the driving cab. The passenger saloon was raked at 45 degrees to show the Rocket as ready for takeoff. Passengers boarded at the rear – from the rails – through the exhaust of the Rocket. Between 1962 and 1965 a Train, Hovertram and Warship followed. The Blackpool Belle was exported to USA in 1982, the Hovertram is in private preservation in Sunderland but the other three remain in the Blackpool fleet.

The Rocket was retired in 1999 with wiring problems. It was preserved in 2002 and ran a farewell tour in April 2002. After a decade in store, it moved to the Blackpool Illuminations Lightworks centre to be cosmetically restored and for 2012/3 became the centrepiece of an Illuminations Display at Gynn Square. In June 2014 it was moved back to Rigby Road depot as part of the Heritage Fleet. It awaits restoration.