634 started life as car 297, one of the class of 20 Brush Railcoaches delivered in 1937 and followed a similar career path to its sisters until the 1970s.
Stored from 1974 requiring overhaul, 634 returned to use in 1976 with all the standard 1970’s modifications but looking stunning in a special blue and yellow livery promoting the centenary of Blackpool’s incorporation as a Borough. The tram featured roof mounted advertisement boxes proclaiming the anniversary, and large Corporation crests adorned the two sides of the trolley tower. The wording in the advert boxes was changed the following year to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, and the boxes were then removed completely the following year – although 634 retained its special livery until 1981.
Various advertising liveries followed (and 634 became an early recipient of a pantograph in 1986), until a collision in 1987 saw the tram side-lined awaiting cab end repairs. 634 became the next major overhaul after 621 and took things a little further receiving rubber mounted saloon glazing salvaged from scrapped OMO cars, although it retained its swing over seating and exposed bulb lighting. It returned to service in 1988 in the standard green and cream livery.
By 1991 634 was back in advertising liveries, returning to fleet livery in the latest style (but minus the green skirt) in 1993. In 1996 the tram received another well-liked livery when it was painted mainly black but with large skulls on each cab end to promote Coral Island’s “Terror Train” ride.
Withdrawal for 634 came in October 2004, and the tram remained stored until purchased for private preservation by Andy Ashton in 2009. Andy moved the tram to the Rushden Transport Museum in Northamptonshire for cosmetic restoration, which he achieved to a high standard with the help of his daughters. This involved some changes to the interior of 634, to remove and replace the 1970’s Darvic plastic panels and Formica with more traditional materials, whilst the cant rail green glasses were exposed again in the saloons and restored/replaced as necessary. Finally, a repaint in the 1990’s style of livery (this time with the green skirt) completed the restoration.
In 2016, Andy generously donated 634 to the Blackpool Heritage Trust (BHT), and it came home to Blackpool in February of that year. Despite hopes to return the tram to use relatively quickly a condition survey of the wiring is needed, and this has unfortunately not progressed. Ownership transferred to the FTT in December 2019 upon the merger with the BHT, and we intend to progress the wiring survey once work is completed on Railcoach 279 with a view to returning 634 to use on Blackpool Transport’s heritage tours.