New hope for old friends to run again at Crich?

As most readers of this website will be aware, the queue of trams awaiting attention in the Crich workshops is a very long one, and some cars have been waiting for a considerable amount of time to receive the work they require to run again. For one tram however, that wait could be nearly over – after spending fifteen years out of action, Newcastle 102 has entered the works so that its condition can be fully assessed, with a view to possibly returning it to service.

The Tramcar Sponsorship Organisation have recently expressed interest in funding a major overhaul of Newcastle 102 and with this in mind, the car was moved into the workshop recently ahead of its appearance on the depot fan for the open top tram line-up during the ‘TMS 60’ event on 19th September. Shortly it will be lifted off its trucks to allow a more detailed assessment of its condition to be completed; 102 has already been the subject of a workshop condition survey but some parts of it could not be viewed properly without separating the body from the bogies. It is known that the tram has a broken axle and other damage to the platform at one end, but having only seen fairly limited use in preservation it is hoped that any other work required may not be too extensive. The outcome of this examination will presumably depend on the anticipated cost of the required work, but hopefully the findings will be positive and it won’t be too long before this large open top car takes its rightful place back in the operating fleet, as it would surely be a very useful and popular car.

Another tram which has been inactive for several years at Crich which was not expected to enjoy such an upturn in its fortunes, is of course the unique VAMBAC equipped Leeds 602. However, the Tramway Museum Society have recently revealed that the Museum Curator is reviewing the ‘Attitude Statement’ for this tram, detailing its historic significance and its key role within the national collection. This has been prompted by the presentation of new evidence regarding its previous restoration history, which has been acknowledged by management and the Tramcar Conservation Committee and will now be used to re-evaluate 602‘s position. Having previously declared that the car would be conserved in its current form rather than operated, despite the offer of a large sum of cash to enable a full restoration of the car, this apparent turnaround will no doubt be welcomed by many critics of the previous decision. Although a change of plan for 602 is by no means certain and the existing stance could well be maintained, it is pleasing that the TMS are willing to listen to its members when a strong case to challenge a previous decision is made, and it is hoped that whatever decision is ultimately made regarding the future of the tram, that it will be communicated just as openly to the membership. Incidentally, the executors of the will of the deceased Society member who had offered finance for the restoration of the car have indicated that, in the event that the original decision is reversed, the required funds will still be available.

Of course, as mentioned above, the Crich workshop is already somewhat overstretched with the pressures of maintaining a large running fleet whilst the ongoing restoration and conservation project involving London County Council 1 will occupy much time and energy for the next few years. We must also remember that varying amounts of finance are already set aside in restricted funds for cars including Blackpool Dreadnought 59, Blackpool Brush Railcoach 298 and Glasgow 1282, as well as the possible creation of a replica Manchester ‘Standard’ car. Bearing all of this in mind, there will be plenty of cars to choose from to occupy workshop capacity, meaning that recently withdrawn cars Southampton 45 and Glasgow 812 could have a long wait to receive the overhauls they now require. Arguably this may not be such a bad thing as most regular visitors would probably prefer to see some ‘new’ trams in service instead of the same cars which have run regularly for many years overhauled and continue to operate.

Which, if any, of the trams mentioned above will be next to benefit from the Crich workshop treatment remains to be seen but the next few years certainly look set to be an interesting time for the museum’s workshop programme!

Could this be the next tram to be overhauled at Crich? Newcastle 102 enjoys a brief spell in the spotlight, and the sunshine, during the 'TMS 60' event prior to being lifted for examination ahead of a possible return to use depending on the associated costs. (Photo by Andrew Waddington)



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8 Responses to New hope for old friends to run again at Crich?

  1. David T says:

    I am pleased to see that there may be a good future for 602 after all the bad feeling that went before this announcement.

  2. Bill Brinkley says:

    Good news

  3. Christopher Callan says:

    The series of announcements represent the administrative arm of the National Tramway Museum starting rectify serious grievances which had been allowed to fester. Welcome in principle the decision to look more closely at the 602 Attitude Statement. Likewise the condition survey on 102 represents a very positive development. The momentum really has picked up at Crich. This year really feel like they have made in roads and responded well to changing landscape.

  4. Geoffrey Ryder says:

    What about Glasgow 1297? It seems to be in very good condition and has run in Blackpool and the Glasgow Garden Festival, as well as at Crich. It is a great pity that it is shut away now in the exhibition hall. It would be an ideal vehicle to use in spring and autumn. Does anyone know what is wrong with it please?
    The more time any of the trams are not in running condition the more money and time it takes to restore them to operating condition again.

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      I’m not 100% sure on 1297’s condition but I believe it was withdrawn due to a motor defect, in addition I think the wiring is largely original and there may be some concerns regarding the bodywork. Hopefully someone from the TMS can clarify?

      In fairness not everything can get done, and with a designated fund already in place to carry out major work on Glasgow 1282 I personally don’t think there would be much point in doing 1297 as well. They’re both lovely cars but to the causal onlooker they are very similar to look at.

      • Phill says:

        To the best of my knowledge, you’re about right. I think it’s a motor suspension bearing that has gone, apparently the oil in it looks like a brass version of copperslip grease!

        It is safely tucked away in the exhibition hall, which is full of atmosphere monitoring things and other stuff I don’t understand, so I don’t think it’s going to deteriorate in the next 30 years.

  5. Paul Penders says:

    A ride on Newcastle 102 and/or Leeds 602 could be a good reason to visit Crich from Belgium. Leeds 602 could have saved that system and is historical because it was one of the most modern trams ever build in the UK. It has a timeless design and still looks modern.

    • Steve says:

      I think the value of 602 is often over rated, we need to remember that they (601 & 602) were test cars for the subways and by the time they were delivered the end of the system was in site. It is also worth remembering that after withdrawal in 1957 the aim was to sell them on but there were no takers, either in the UK or Mainland Europe I would say that the real defining car of the post war era can be found in Blackpool today – Coronation 304 which demonstrates the best of post war technology and what might have been.

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