Although not directly relevant to trams, a recent addition to the massive collection of historic objects at Beamish Museum seemed interesting enough to warrant mention here. The museum has recently obtained a bridge dating from 1863 which was donated by Network Rail after being out of use for some time.
The bridge was located on the railway line through the Esk Valley into Whitby and was built by Head Ashby – a predecessor of Head Wrightson who built the museum’s preserved ‘Coffee Pot’ locomotives, giving it additional local relevance. The remaining parts of this remarkable artefact have now been dismantled and moved to Beamish for storage, and whilst there is no immediate plan for its re-use, it is pleasing that it was rescued as there is huge potential for it at this museum. Perhaps one day the restored ‘Coffee Pot’ No. 1 steam loco will cross the bridge, maybe with trams passing beneath, or maybe we could even see trams running over it and trolleybuses going under it? However the museum ultimately decide to utilise this new asset, you can be sure that it will be interesting! More information and pictures of the bridge can be viewed at http://beamishtransportonline.co.uk/2015/06/a-bridge-too-far/
Meanwhile on the Beamish tramway, Oporto 196 disgraced itself recently with a lifeguard failure which caused some slight damage to the track infrastructure, although this was very quickly rectified meaning that disruption to the tram service was minimal. This is not the first time that 196‘s life trays have caused havoc as they seem especially prone to being activated by strong wind or excessive bouncing, so it has been decided to replace the traditional Portugese trays with a more typical British style of lifeguard, similar to those fitted to Newcastle 114. Whilst this won’t be entirely authentic it is considered more important that the tram is reliable, and indeed 196 seems to be regarded as more of a useful workhorse on the museum’s busy transport network than a museum exhibit (although of course it is both!).
Work on the major overhaul of Sheffield 264 has reached an advanced stage with the top deck now repanelled and overhaul of the window mechanisms also progressing well. The truck is being reassembled and soon it will be possible to bring together both decks and the truck, allowing the project to make more visible progress. The chances of 264 entering service this summer as hoped now appear slim, but once completed the tram will look superb and should prove invaluable in shifting the crowds at the museum for many years to come.