Blackpool ‘Box’ to spend summer at Beamish

The National Tramway Museum’s 1914-built Blackpool & Fleetwood Electric Tramroad ‘Box’ car No. 40 will spend much of the 2019 season at Beamish Museum, operating on the open air site’s tramway until the end of August.

No. 40 arrived in County Durham on March 4 after more than 20 years on loan to the Blackpool system.

It will be one of the star attractions at Beamish’s Great North Steam Fair on April 11-14, joining former Manchester Corporation ‘Combination Car’ No. 765 on loan from Heaton Park, where No. 40 also resided for many years. It will be No. 40’s first visit to Beamish, continuing the good relationship the two museums share.

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No. 40 was originally built for the Blackpool & Fleetwood Tramroad by the United Electric Car Company of Preston as a single-deck ‘closed’ bogie saloon type for winter operation; the angular enclosed body gave rise to its nickname.

In 1920 it was renumbered 114 following Blackpool Corporation’s take over of the B&F system, but continued work out of Bispham depot until 1936/7, when it was finally withdrawn and converted to a works vehicle as No. 5.

In 1960 the car, together with several other works trams, was restored to passenger-carrying condition to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Blackpool tramways, once again bearing the number 40.

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It operated until January 1963 when it was donated to the Tramway Museum Society, arriving at Crich that October.

It became one of the first electric trams to carry passengers at the museum the following year, but in the years since has spent very little time at Crich.

To mark the centenary of the Blackpool tramways in 1985 No. 40 was sent to Heaton Park Tramway for overhaul, where it worked until 1991.

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Four years later it returned to Blackpool again, taking part in the centenary of the B&F Tramroad in 1998.

Apart from a brief return to Crich in 2014 for the Electric 50 event, it has been based at the Lancashire resort. After its loan spell at Beamish, No. 40 will return to Crich for a well-earned retirement.

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Sam Hewitt