Introduced in 1962 and modelled on a train from a western film, the Illuminated Western Train Tram attracted long queues in its heyday as seaside visitors waited for a ride. It was withdrawn from service due to old age in 1999 and for some time was under threat of being broken up for scrap.
Thanks to the Lottery Heritage Fund, between 2007 and 2009, this national icon was completely rebuilt and fully restored to its authentic 1962 condition externally, whilst internally, the carriage was returned to its 1928 appearance. It is also the very first Blackpool tram to be fitted with wheelchair access, which has been incorporated into the rebuilt locomotive without altering the external appearance of this historic vehicle. A ride on the tram is a trip down memory lane for Blackpool’s locals and visitors alike.
From the very outset of the project, Blackpool Transport Services received over a thousand letters from the public through a Gazette appeal, hoping to carry on the tradition of a ride on the Western Train Tram. Sir Cliff Richard, who travelled on the tram to the ABC Theatre in Church Street to reopen the theatre and launch the first summer show there in 1963, said at the time of the Lottery Grant announcement in 2007:
“It’s hard to imagine Blackpool without its historic trams and, without initiatives such as this, they could one day be lost for ever. Like thousands of others, I have fond memories of my trip on this famous tram, and think it’s fantastic that a whole new generation will be able to share the experience.”
The current conservation work including bodywork repairs, full repaint and rewire aim to continue and maintain this ongoing tradition.