Blackpool Corporation built a fleet of 42 ‘Standard’ cars during the 1920s in response to both growing patronage on the tram routes and a need to rationalise the assortment of tram types, many originating from the early 1900s.
No.143 was built by the Corporation in 1924 as an unvestibuled, open balcony ‘Standard’. Later, in December 1929 the tram received enclosed drivers vestibules and upper deck. The red and cream livery was replaced by green in June 1934.
Withdrawal of the Standards began in the 1940s and the numbers thinned out during the 1950s as the Coronation class arrived. However, a handful survived in service as late as 1966 and a number of them survive in preservation.
This car has a rather unique history. Withdrawn from passenger duties in October 1957, it was fitted with a bus engine and generator set to allow it to operate separate from the overhead. An inspection tower was fitted on the upper deck and the tram transferred to Engineering car duties. Later renumbered 753 in the works car fleet, it survived on such duties until June 1990 when the engine caught fire and gutted the lower deck saloon. Retained by Blackpool Transport for possible restoration as a Standard car, a project to acquire sister car No.147 from an American museum led to 753 being cannibalised and withdrawn surplus to requirements.
Unwilling to see such an historic tram broken up, the car was donated to the LTT in February 2002 and was transferred to our Clifton Road depot on 13 April 2003 to await future restoration.
A grant application was submitted to the Local Heritage Initiative in August 2005 for a project to fully restore the tram to original 1924 condition, as an open platform, open vestibule tram, a type not represented by any of the other preserved Blackpool Standards. Work on the project started in November 2005 and 143 returned back to Rigby Road depot in August 2010 for completion by Blackpool Transport.
Unfortunately, the pressure of work to upgrade the tramway and the retained double deck cars resulted in no work being undertaken on 143 and the realisation that the extent of heritage operation would be minimal led to BTS not being in a position to honour their pledged partnership agreement dating back to 2005. As a result, car 143 was stored until November 2018 when a revised agreement was negotiated with Blackpool Transport.
During the remainder of 2018 and throughout 2019, the work on 143 was completed in a joint project involving Blackpool Transport staff, contractors and volunteers and the car was launched, looking superb, on 23rd September 2019.