After a whole host of issues and delays, a new launch date has finally been announced for Liverpool ‘Baby Grand’ 245 - the tram is set to enter public service on the Birkenhead tramway for the first time ever on Saturday 12th September. It may be remembered that the tram should have been launched last year but various setbacks have delayed its entry into service, however following extensive testing it is almost ready to roll!
A suitably lavish ceremony is planned to celebrate 245‘s launch on 12th September and to cope with demand, two ‘launch’ trips are planned – although somehow riding on its second passenger run in preservation doesn’t seem quite as exciting as the first, but the same £10 price tag applies nonetheless! A series of speeches will take place at 1230 with representatives of the Merseyside Tramway Preservation Society, Liverpool Museums and the Heritage Lottery Fund set to address the crowd. 245‘s first run is scheduled for 1300 from Taylor Street with other ticketholders invited to enjoy refreshments in the depot, and then the second ‘first’ run will be at 1330 with those who rode on the actual first passenger journey then given the opportunity to sample a replenished buffet. For both journeys, 245 will follow Birkenhead 20 which will have a silver band playing from the vantage point of its open top deck.
Once the official celebrations are over, a two-car service is planned to operate from 1400 using 245 and one other tram, possibly Liverpool 762. However a special premium fare of £5 will be charged on 245 for the remainder of the afternoon, with genuine tickets from Liverpool’s Last Tram Week issued to passengers to mark this historic occasion. It is hoped that the Baby Grand will be in service again the following day with normal fares applicable, and it should also be one of the star attractions at this year’s Bus & Tram Show on Sunday 4th October.
September is certainly shaping up to be a very hectic month for fans of traditional British trams with significant events being held at Birkenhead, Crich and Blackpool over consecutive weekends, but at least none of them clash! Hopefully Liverpool 245‘s belated launch will be a great success for the Birkenhead tramway and after a year of difficulties the tram can now enjoy a very fruitful career in its new home.