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Blackpool Transport Services 606

English Electric, 1934
Blackpool, England

Principal Features

  • Double end
  • Open-air summer tourist car
  • Trucks: two by English Electric
  • Motors: two, EE327 OS56C
  • Center-mounted extra-long trolley pole
  • Compressed air brakes


In 1933, Blackpool Corporation Transport (BCT) General Manager Walter Luff was looking for replacements for the traditional "toastrack" (open) trams running on the Promenade. Luff recognized that the toastrack cars were dangerous for the conductor and nearing the end of their useful mechanical lives. Collecting fares, the conductor moved along the running boards on the outside of the car while trying to avoid colliding with trackside obstacles, such as traction poles, because there was no center aisle in this type of tram.
Walter Luff approved a design for an open topped car with a center entrance and central walkway. The design allows the conductor to collect the fares safely and the passengers to board and alight safely. Known as "the boats" with their ship-like streamlined appearance, they have become one of the most iconic designs among Blackpool trams. All cars are virtually identical, except for the prototype, which has shorter body panels. English Electric constructed a prototype car, and BCT responded with an order for eleven more cars. The cars were numbered BCT 225 to 236.
Labor shortages and lack of passengers greatly reduced use of the boats during World War II. After the war, the boats returned to service on the seaside promenade route once more.
All twelve cars remained in service until after the North Station route closed in 1963, when there was a general reduction in the number of trams available for service. At that time, four cars (229, 231, 232 and 234) were put in storage and eventually scrapped in 1968. At that time the remaining boats were renumbered BTS (Blackpool Transport Services) 600 - 607.
In the 1970s, interested parties in the United States acquired BTS 601 (Western Railway Museum) and 603 (San Francisco Municipal Railway); in 2013, 605 also went to San Francisco. Four of these cars (225/600, 227/602, 230/604, and 236/607) are still in Blackpool and most of them are in operation on summer weekends.
At the end of the 2004 season, BTS withdrew the boats as part of a fleet reduction exercise. Following a number of complaints and a huge outcry by the public, four cars were returned to service during 2005 and have remained in service ever since, proving their popularity.
BTS loaned BTS 606 to the 1988 Glasgow Garden Festival where a special tramway was built through the exhibition site. Painted in blue and yellow, (different from the usual green and cream livery), BTS 606 became the first and, to date, only Blackpool tram to operate in Scotland. The car returned to Blackpool following the end of the festival in September 1988.
In 2000, BTS transferred BTS 606 to the Gerald Brookins Museum of Electric Railways in exchange for BCT 147, a traditional double deck car, which has now been restored back to its 1924 condition and operates Blackpool.
The Museum purchased BTS 606 in 2009 from the Lake Shore Electric Railway Museum, successor to the Brookins Museum. This streetcar is often operated during summer and is on display in Street Car Hall. Not only does it offer a special ride without a roof, but passengers have the opportunity to ride in a double-end car and understand how they work if there is not a loop to turn around at the end of the line. Blackpool uses double-decker trams, so the pole on this streetcar was designed to reach the wires that were that much farther overhead.
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