Blackpool Coronation Cars

Following the War, Walter Luff decided on a change of policy on the operation of the tramway, he decided that the way forward was to dispense with the double deckers and use as many single deckers as possible on a increased headway, as he felt that double deckers were too slow in loading and that people hated climbing stairs for short journeys and also it would mean that each tram would be crewed by 2 staff instead of 3. As a result he ordered 25 Coronation Trams to operate the main Starr Gate to Fleetwood Service.

The Coronation Cars whilst being the most expensive and luxurious cars that Blackpool has ever had, almost finished the tramway off with rising repair costs, crippling loans to be repaid and problematic equipment which eventually had to be replaced with conventional equipment.

The first car (304) arrived from Robert's (the same company who built Sheffield 513) in 1952 and it was even reported that its roof was leaking as it was being unloaded from the low loader. The tram was put into service and operated on the Starr Gate to Fleetwood route. The public liked them, however following a newspaper report which stated that the Coronations would not be able to run on the Marton Route, car 305 was sent on a test run as far as Marton Depot at night. The test run was a success as the tram managed reach the depot and return to Talbot Square without any hitches. In hindsight it was probably wise that the tram did not travel any further along the route as it would probably have grounded on the railway Bridge on Waterloo Road. Thus it became the first and last coronation tram to operate on the Marton Route.

Due to the Coronations being wider than the conventional trams, they could not operate on either the Lytham Road or North Station Routes as the double tracks were closer together than on the prom.

Soon after the Coronations began to enter service, the problems started. The trams suffered from fractured axles and also managed to trip section breakers in the Substations due to their high power consumption, leaving queues of immobile trams along the prom. Sand and dust was also causing a problem as it was getting into and causing the VAMBAC equipment, which was located below the trolley tower on the roof to fail. The Coronations also suffered from leaking roofs and windows.

The Coronations had to get their axles replaced as the originals were found to be faulty and their acceleration performance also had to be reduced to stop them from blowing the Section Breakers. By 1965, they had lost their attractive chrome fittings and had their sides repannelled with their original steel panels being replaced with lighter aluminium panels to remove some of the body weight of the trams.

By 1963 313 had been withdrawn from service for spares and was stored in Bispham depot until 1965 when it became the last tram to leave that depot and was subsequently scrapped. The remaining examples were now only used during the summer season, with Brush Cars and Railcoaches operating on the winter service. The Coronations had their troublesome VAMBAC control equipment replaced with conventional equipment.

From 1968, the remaining coronations were renumbered 641 - 664 and were gradually being withdrawn and scrapped and by 1971, only 660 remained, preserved by Blackpool Corporation, with 641 and 663 going to museums.

In 2002 641 returned to Blackpool to be restored back to original condition as 304 with VAMBAC equipment, featuring on Channel 4's Salvage Squad program, with the car being relaunched in 2003. 663 is now in the Care of the Lancastrian Transport Trust and should be restored one day and run on the Prom again.

blackpool tramway

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Original Number Current Number Built Status livery Notes
304 641 1953 reserve white preserved with VAMBAC equipment
305 642 1953 scrapped
306 643 1953 scrapped
307 644 1953 scrapped
308 645 1953 scrapped
309 646 1953 scrapped
310 647 1953 scrapped
311 648 1953 scrapped
312 649 1953 scrapped
313 1953 scrapped first Coronation to be scrapped
314 650 1953 scrapped
315 651 1953 scrapped
316 652 1953 scrapped
317 653 1953 scrapped
318 654 1953 scrapped
319 655 1953 scrapped
320 656 1953 scrapped
321 657 1953 scrapped
322 658 1953 scrapped
323 659 1953 scrapped
324 660 1953 reserve white still runs in Blackpool
325 661 1953 scrapped
326 662 1953 scrapped
327 663 1953 preserved in LTT store Blackpool
328 664 1953 scrapped