Since transferring to the East Anglia Transport Museum over a year ago, Sheffield ‘Roberts’ car 513 has rarely made the news on British Trams Online, but the latest newsletter distributed to members of this organisation enables us to provide an update on what has been happening to this popular tramcar since it left Blackpool. Readers may remember that 513 is still actually owned by Beamish Museum, who have placed it on loan to the museum at Carlton Colville for an indefinite period.
Despite having resided in Blackpool for ten years, Sheffield 513 was not a regular performer there for most of its stay and on arrival at East Anglia an initial examination revealed several areas in need of attention before the tram was passed fit for service. Initially just the most urgent work was carried out so that 513 could enter service in its new home at Easter 2011. However, some further jobs were carried out over the winter of 2011/12 in order to ensure that the car will be able to run safely for the forseeable future. This has included an overhaul of the severly worn trolley head, and resealing of the roof. The upper deck seats had deteriorated due to water damage caused by the roof leaking, and so some fungus has needed removing. One volunteer has worked hard to remove years of accumulated rust from the window pans on the lower deck, and the paintwork around this has been touched up to smarten up the appearance of the tram. Some electrical work has also been undertaken, although it is anticipated that a complete re-wire will probably be needed at some point in the forseeable future.
After returning to service for the 2012 season in April, 513 then suffered a controller fault but thankfully this was not too severe and has since been repaired. Despite all of these problems, the Sheffield tram has been an extremely welcome addition to the small operating fleet at Carlton Colville and will hopefully continue to delight visitors there for some years to come. It should be noted however, that the tram’s use is held back slightly as its unusually long four-wheel truck causes excessive wear on the rails; indeed this was one reason why Beamish did not want to take it back when Blackpool Transport wanted it to be removed from their premises. Discussions have taken place regarding track lubrication to reduce wear on the track and to make running the tram quieter, so hopefully a solution will be found before too long.
If any reader of this website has any images of 513 operating at East Anglia that they would be willing to share with us, please get in touch at the usual email address.