One of Blackpool’s famous illuminated trams arrived at a new home on Tuesday 1st July, when the Hovertram 735 finally touched down on track at the home of the North East Land, Sea & Air Museum near Sunderland. It may be remembered that 735 was originally expected to arrive at this location almost two months earlier, but several delays have conspired against its new owners and meant that the tram remained in Scotland for several weeks longer than anticipated.
After spending several years in storage at Beith in Scotland, the Hovertram was sold to the North Eastern Electrical Traction Trust earlier this year. It had been planned to move it to the North East on the first weekend in May, but unfortunately the lorry that had been booked to move the tram broke down on the day of the move and so it has been left stranded for a few more weeks. However, on 30th June, Calkeld’s Heavy Haulage arrived at the shed where 735 has resided since leaving Blackpool back in 2007, to load the tram for its journey back to England. The car then made its road trip the same day, but had to wait until the following morning (and technically, the following month!) before being unloaded at its new home. The tram duly became the first double-deck tram to enter NEETT’s new depot
The Hovertram is the last member of the 1960s illuminated fleet to still require some level of attention, following the work carried out in Blackpool to the Frigate and Western Train and the cosmetic attention lavished upon the Rocket last year. It is also very appropriate that this deal to transfer ownership of 735 should occur in its fiftieth anniversary year, with the tram first being launched into service in 1963.
Current plans envisage that the Hovertram will remain in situ until the end of the year whilst its new owners raise the necessary finance to pay for its purchase and transport and it will then make the journey south to Sunderland for permanent display. However, this fledgling preservation group, already committed to several other projects and understandably keen to ensure this iconic tram has a safe home, are keen to appeal to the enthusiast community to ensure the project reaches a successful conclusion.