Blackpool Brush Cars

 Technical Details

Fleet Numbers: 284 - 303 (now 621 - 637)

Built: 1937

Buiit by: Brush, Loughburough

Seats: 48

Trucks: EMB equal wheel bogies

Motors: E.E. 305 HP 57 x 2

Controllers: EE Z4

Top Speed approx 35 MPH

Braking: Airwheel, EMB rheostatic and handbrake

Current Collector: Pantograph


Until 1937, Blackpool Corporation Tramways, hired a number of trams from the Lytham St Annes Tramway during the busy illuminations period, which could see anything up to a staggering 200 trams in service at once on a particular night. When the Lytham St Annes Tramway closed in 1937, Blackpool were left with a shortfall of trams on these nights. With this in mind, Walter Luff ordered 20 railcoaches similar to the 45 trams they had ordered 3 years previously. However the person who designed the previous order of trams, had moved from English Electric at Preston, to Brush at Loughbourgh. The Brush cars were similar in almost every respect to the English Electric Railcoaches, however due to copyright for the design being held by English Electric, there were slight differences to all elements of the design.

The Brush cars were fitted with sunshine roofs (which could be folded open in the good weather), clocks, heating, power operated doors, wind down windows and roof light windows. They were also fitted with Crompton & Parkinson Controllers.

The Brush cars were initially allocated to Rigby Road Depot and settled down and worked the Lytham road route along with the Balloon cars. It is reported that in the early days, the power operated doors were operated by the driver and one day a driver accidently opened the wrong door and a passengers luggage fell out onto the road and was crushed by a passing bus!!!!!

By 1940, the Brush cars had been transferred to Bispham depot, to work the North Station to Fleetwood with the Pantograph Cars and on certain journeys on the Squires Gate - Bispham route. These cars worked on this route until it closed in 1963. Following the closure of the North Station Route, the brush cars (with the exception of Vambac fitted car 303) were transfered to Rigby Road to operate the Starr Gate to Fleetwood Service.

VAMBAC fitted Brush 303 was the result of a failed experiment using the revolutionary VAMBAC equipment which allowed smooth and quick acceleration and braking. Although it had the most up to date equipment, it was not popular with crews as it was different from the other cars. It had been planned to operate the tram on the Marton Route along side the other VAMBAC fitted cars, however it was not suitable as its air operated doors were deemed to slow down the loading of the tram. It was returned to Bispham and saw little use except for on specials. 303 was transferred to Marton Depot during 1963 for scrapping.

The 19 remaining Brush cars were fitted with heaters and controllers from scrapped EE railcoaches, had half drop windows fitted, single destination blinds fitted to the fronts replacing the previous double destination screens , the side destination blinds situated above the enterance doors and the opening sunshine roofs were pannelled over and from Easter 1964 the trams began operation of the Starr Gate to Fleetwood service all year round along with the remaining EE railcoaches. Car 301 was involved in a serious collision which resulted in its withdrawal and scrapping prior to 1968.

When the full fleet was renumbered in 1968, the remaining 18 Brush Cars were renumbered 621 - 638.

628 was withdrawn and rebuilt into a rail carrying trailer complete with crane in 1969 following a serious collision with Balloon 726 in Fleetwood. 624 was withdrawn in 1971 in need of an overhaul and was used as a permanent way car.

In the early 1970's with thoughts turning to operating services using a driver only, 638 was experimentally fitted out as a one man car. This involved removing some seats and fitting a door in place of the first window on the left hand side behind the driver. This experiment failed and 638 was converted back to an ordinary Railcoach. It was later scrapped in 1984 in need of an overhaul and surplus to requirements.

The 70's saw the introduction of OMO cars and the Brush cars were relegated to summer use only.

629 was also withdrawn towards the end of the 1970's in need of an overhaul and with its withdrawal falling in the middle of the OMO rebuilding, it was decided to scrap the tram instead. 635 was also withdrawn around the same time, however it was lucky and was donated to the Tramway Museum at Crich for preservation and should run there one day.


Towards the end of the 1980's, cars 621, 623, 632, 634 and 637 were given major overhauls and slightly modernised. 621 received new made to measure windows whilst all the other Brush cars received ex OMO hopper windows. 623 was fitted with ex OMO windows and fixed bus seating as was 637, which also received encased lighting. 634 and 632 both had their underframes modified extensively and were given a general tidy up.

From March 1993, the final OMO's in service, 5, 10 and 11 were withdrawn from service, signalling an end to the Brush Cars having the winter season off. Due to the continuing unreliability of the Centenary Cars, Brush Cars were once again seeing all round use although this would mainly only be one or two at most a day during the winter with 625, 626, 627, 630 and 631 being used most, although it has been noted that there had been larger numbers than that in service on occasions including non-heat cars such as 621, 634, 636 and 637.

Brush cars 626,630 and 631 were given major overhauls between 1994 and 1996 emerging with a fully modernised interior and different lifeguard arrangements. 626's overhaul saw it's capacity reduced from 48 to 46 due to the positioning of a control box in one of the passenger saloon's

During the early 2000's (2000 - 2004) the Brush Cars (and ex-towing railcoaches)took over the operation of the early season timetable from Easter until the start of the summer timetable and from October until the end of the season in November in a bit to boost reliability (which they did and quite drastically at that) following a number of Centenary Car breakdowns. 

633 was withdrawn with serious body faults in 1999 and was rebuilt as an Illuminated car and returned to service in 2001.

Car 636 became the first and only Brush Car to receive Metro Branding during 2003. It received line 14 green and yellow and looked smart.

The end of the 2004 season saw the withdrawal of all brush cars except for 626, 630 and 631. It was a bit of a shock that as many would be withdrawn as 621, 623, 632, 634, 636 and 637 were all in quite good shape having only been overhauled in the 1980's.

In 2005 622 and 623 were reinstated although 623 only ran in service once and spent the rest of the season as a driver training car, the return of 622 occurred as Glyngarry Windows who had been advertising on this particular tram decided to renew their contract for another season, 622 wouldnt have been returned otherwise as it was in poor condition compared to some of the other Brush cars which were withdrawn.

A return to service was also rumoured for 625 as a reserve car but this never materialised, it was also surprising that this particular car was even being considered for a return to service as it is also in poor condition and had rarely ran in service in 2003 or 2004.

622 remained in service in 2006 firstly being outshopped in all over white and then receiving a new advert livery for Pontins. 626, 630 and 631 also remained in service. Works Car 259 (ex 624) has been donated to the LTT for restoration to original art deco condition.

During 2006, 636 was moved to Derby for testing to be carried out on the tram's experimental motors, it returned to Blackpool to allow for further tests on a new bogie and truck to take place on the section of track between Starr Gate and Pleasure Beach during early 2009.

623 made a comeback to service in 2007 having received Wartime livery in celebration of 70 years in service for the Brush car.

A return was mooted for another Brush car in the Tigerriffic livery carried by 622 in the 1970's, however this never materialised.

In 2009, refurbished Brush Car 626 was withdrawn as being surplus as its all over advert had expired, leaving 622, 630 and 631 as the 3 operational cars and 623 as a reserve car.   634 was sold for preservation and left Blackpool late in 2009 whilst 636 also left for its new home at SET in Derby.   632 was preserved by the LTT whilst 627 made a one off return to service on 8th November 2009 after 5 years in store to operate the final journey on the section of track between Ash Street  and Fleetwood Ferry before its closure for rebuilding prior to the upgrade of the line.   
With the impending upgrade to the tramway, all remaining Brush Cars except for 631 were put up for sale in January 2010 and sold.  623 was bought by the MTMS for use at the Heaton Park tramway and left Blackpool in 2010.   622 was bought by the LTT as a source of spare parts for its heritage trams and transferred to the LTT depot on the outskirts of Blackpool.   However, before it went, it surrendered its recently refurbished trucks for use under 632.   626 was repainted into 70's green and cream during 2010 and was expected to see use as a dedicated driver training tram, however the tram was used a number of  times on the timetabled service before being sold and moving to the Birkenhead tramway in August 2010.  

632 returned to service during June 2010 as part of the 125th Anniversary celebrations to compensate for the loss of so many other members of the 1930's fleet.  630, 631 and 632 continued in service during 2011 with 631 and 632 operating on the final day for the traditional fleet on 6th November 2011.    630 was withdrawn the previous week to receive a repaint back into 90's green and cream prior to its move to Crich early in 2012.  

621 and 627 moved to Kirkham Prison to be restored for the Friends of Fleetwood Museum, 625 and 637 are in open storage for the Birkenhead Tramway in a yard in Merseyside.

630 entered service at Crich in Summer 2012 and has seen regular use, 622 is still at the LTT store and is shortly due to move to Anchorsholme school for use as a static classroom.  632 is in open storage in a yard at Burton Road Blackpool however it will shortly be returning to Rigby Road and hopefully joining the heritage fleet soon. Former Engineering Car 259 (ex 624) will also be returning though it will need a major overhaul before it can operate,  whilst 631 entered service with the heritage fleet in Blackpool and is currently in the works, regaining some of its original features including swingover seats, original style lifeguards and the modern headlights and indicators being removed and replaced with traditional headlights.  

Brush 627 was repainted into a commemorative livery for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and displayed on a temporary siding at the Pleasure Beach and is currently receiving a new livery for 2013.

The Brush Cars gave great service over 74 years and Blackpool has and will never have a more reliable type of tram, it was often been said that Blackpool Transport should forget about the unreliable Centenary Cars and give their fleet of Brush Cars a much needed overhaul.

Original Number Current Number Built Status livery Notes
284 621 1937 withdrawn 2004 in store at Kirkham Prison
Hot Ice advert
285 622 1937 withdrawn
2010 stored at the LTT Busworks depot
Pontins Advert
286 623 1937 in service at Heaton park tramway
Wartime Green and Cream has bus seats
287 624 1937 withdrawn 2004
green works car (withdrawn) retains twin destination screens, being restored as a Brush Car
288 625 1937 withdrawn 2004 in open storage, Merseyside
green and cream
289 626 1937 moved to Birkenhead Tramway
70's green and cream
modified Brush with heating and bus seats
290 627 1937 withdrawn 2004, on display at Pleasure Beach
Buchaneer Advert retains old fashioned heaters
291 628 1937 in service
see works car 260
292 629 1937 scrapped

293 630 1937 in service, Crich Tramway Museum
90's Green and Cream
modified brush with heating and bus seats, will be preserved at Crich on withdrawal in 2011
294 631 1937 reserve tram
Walls Solero Ice Cream advert modified brush with heating and bus seats
295 632 1937 withdrawn 6.11.11
70's Green and Cream
has roof box adverts
296 633 1937 in service
See Illuminated Cars 737
297 634 1937 preserved
90's green and cream
now based at the Rushden Transport Museum
298 635 1937 preserved
being restored
299 636 1937 sold line 14 green and yellow now based at SET Derby for testing
300 637 1937 withdrawn 2004, in open storage Merseyside
blackpool zoo advert
301
1937 scrapped

302 638 1937 scrapped
Converted to one man operation for experiment but converted back to 2 man operation
303 --- 1937 scrapped
only brush car to receive VAMBAC controls