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 operated 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 florescent 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
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
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, this particular tram wouldnt have been returned otherwise as it is thought to be 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 has also been mooted for another as yet to be confirmed car in the Tigerriffic livery carried by 622 in the 1970's, although at the moment this appears unlikely to happen due to the limited number of trams used in service at present.
In 2009, refurbished Brush Car 626 was withdrawn as being
surplus, 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 is to be 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 and sold. 623 has been bought by the MTMS for use at the Heaton Park tramway and left Blackpool in 2010. 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 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, 630 having been withdrawn the previous week to receive a repaint prior to its move to Crich. 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 is now at Crich and sees regular use, 622 is at the LTT store and is used as a source of spare parts and is shortly due to move to Anchorsholme school for use as a static classroom. 632 is in open storage in a yard somewhere in Blackpool whilst 631 is currently being restored regaining some of its original features including swingover seats from the top deck of Balloon 700 and original style lifeguards and 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. It will be replaced in 2013 by 621 which will be repainted in a special livery.
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|
2010 stored at the LTT Busworks depot
|286||623||1937||in service at Heaton park tramway
||Wartime Green and Cream||has bus seats|
||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|
|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
||Walls Solero Ice Cream advert||modified brush with heating and bus seats|
||70's Green and Cream
||has roof box adverts
|296||633||1937||in service||See Illuminated Cars 737
||90's green and cream
||now based at the Rushden Transport Museum
|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|
|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|