Saturday, 24 August 2013

Cinderella Coronation gets makeover

663 has spent more years in preservation than it did operating, but in partnership with an LTT member restoration has now started after 37 years.
After spending more years in preservation than it did it operation, the Cinderella of surviving Coronation cars (663) is now receiving a makeover, 37 years after departing from Rigby Road tram depot. The restoration work is being funded by donations from a member of the LTT with the Trust contributing the value of Gift Aid received from the donations into the long awaited restoration project.

Work has already started on the first phase of the restoration of car 663 which will focus on the bodywork and it is intended that the tram will be restored to its early 1970s condition of green & cream with roof advertising boxes. A strip down of the tram has revealed the effect of several years of both outside storage and under leaking roofs, with some corrosion and rotten timberwork. However, the solid steel construction of these trams means that the problems are easily remedied.

663 was originally acquired for preservation by Graham Oliver. After residence at Lytham Motive Power Museum and later Steamport Transport Museum, Southport, No. 663 was acquired by the West Yorkshire Transport Museum intended for operation at a museum in Low Moor, Bradford. Although the museum, known as Transperience, opened to the public in the 1990s, it soon closed and the collection was dispersed. No. 663 passed into private preservation once again. Temporary residence at St. Helens Transport Museum (rejoining sister car No. 304) was secured but the tram later moved closer to the owner’s home in Richmond.

In February 2002, No. 663 was offered to the LTT collection free of charge after its owner decided to dispose of the car. Storage of the tram at Richmond continued until April 2003 when 663 returned to Blackpool after an absence of 27 years - it departed in August 1976. Since then the LTT has funded the car’s storage at £114 per month at Brinwell Road, totalling over £13,000!

Following the news that the LTT and BTS collections will merge and 663 was not included in the merger, an LTT member offered to fund the bodywork restoration of 663 to ensure its continued preservation and reverse the fortunes of this Cinderella tram. Eric Berry, trustee said “this is an example of people simply putting their money where their mouth is and making a very positive contribution to the preservation of Blackpool’s tramway heritage”.