Leeds 602 legacy rejected – again!

A recent announcement that the decision by the Board of Management at the Tramway Museum Society to reject a substantial donation to enable the restoration of the unique Leeds 602 was being reviewed, had been met with approval by the many enthusiasts who had felt that the original decision was a highly questionable one. Sadly however, the review has now been concluded and the outcome remains the same as before – the money for 602 will not be accepted and the tram will be conserved in its current form, rather than returned to running order.

For anyone not familiar with the saga of Leeds 602, the controversy began when a TMS member passed away and the executors of his will offered to donate £250,000 to allow one of his favourite trams, 602, to be fully restored in the Crich workshops. It was then decided that the tram should remain as it is, as restoring it would involve the replacement of many important materials and components which would devalue the tram’s historical significance as the only example of an all-electric, VAMBAC equipped tramcar in the national collection. Since then, evidence was presented to the TMS Board proving that extensive work had already been undertaken on the car since it was preserved, and therefore that there would be little worth in conserving a tram that had already been significantly overhauled since ending its working career in Leeds. This, presumably combined with the flood of negative comments which has graced the pages of the Society Journal and websites such as this one, led to the original decision being reviewed with the ‘Attitude Statement’ for the tram being updated to take into account the new information available.

Despite many of us hoping that this would lead to the legacy being accepted and 602 being overhauled and returned to service, this was not to be. Once again, the decision has been made that Leeds 602 is most valuable to the museum as a static exhibit and therefore the money is being rejected once again with the tram to be conserved rather than restored to preserve whatever originality it retains. Originally the donation had come with a very tight time restriction attached, but this has since been relaxed, so this excuse is no longer applicable as the executors of the will have clearly indicated that they would be happy to release the money when workshop capacity becomes available, so as not to adversely affect any other restoration projects at Crich. The original sum has been revised to £150,000 in line with a Crich workshop estimate that the work required to bring 602 up to the museum’s high standards for operation would cost around £100,000. It was even suggested that any left-over cash could be spent on other projects of the museum’s choosing, meaning that it won’t just be the Leeds car that loses out as a result of this decision.

It now appears that there is no chance at all of the decision not to restore 602 will be overturned, and a huge sum of money has been potentially lost by the British tram preservation movement. Perhaps at some point in the distant future, Leeds 602 will be restored and run again – after all, a previous Curator had suggested a similar policy towards London County Council 1, but ultimately leaving it in ‘as withdrawn’ condition forever was not an option, as its condition was deteriorating to the extent that its long-term survival was at stake. That tram is now being fully rebuilt in the workshop with any parts no longer fit for re-use that are considered to be of value being retained for possible future exhibition as a compromise measure. Presumably though, when that time finally comes for Leeds 602, it will be left to the TMS to find the required finance to carry out the work required which may well have escalated by then.

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17 Responses to Leeds 602 legacy rejected – again!

  1. james c jones says:

    I think 602 would probably last longer with 150,000 worth of tlc lavished on her

  2. Frank Gradwell says:

    Unbelievable small minded posturing.

    If 602 has already been reconditioned previously to keep it in operation once, then I fail to see how historical integrity would be compromised by doing the same again.

    Next time anyone is minded to leave a legacy to TMS I hope their legal advisers will apply a caveat and alternative strategy so that such generosity is not completely lost to the movement.

    There are plenty of charitable status appeals crying out for money. I sincerely hope one of those can be substituted somehow.

  3. Nigel Pennick says:

    As 602 was built to operate in service in the first place, putting it back into running order would be a perfect way of demonstrating its all-electric VAMBAC system as it was intended to be used. It would be a running example of how tramways were needlessly abandoned in Leeds just when new technologies were emerging, and could be exhibited as part of the wider history story of how Leeds failed twice to get modern light rail; firstly failing to get its subway system built after World War II and then the second-generation system which was nearly constructed in the 2000s before being cancelled.

  4. Rob McCaffery says:

    As ever it proves one essential aspect of the lovely TMS.
    “Nobody tells the Board what do here!”

  5. Ralph Oakes-Garnett says:

    Talk about looking a gift horse in the mouth. This is like killing a gift horse. TMS should be downright ashamed of themselves. It would appear their restorations only cover a certain selected period of tram history. Shame on all of you involved and I hope these decisions come back to haunt the guilty parties. It appears that the TMS is too big for it’s purpose now as it has lost sight of the original purpose of it’s existence. I think at our small Museum we would be happy with less than 1% of what has been offered. Shame a dying persons wishes are not being respected.

  6. David Edwards says:

    About 10 or 15 years ago Leeds 602 was running at Crich and I rode on it. It seemed to run OK. This was the only time in 56 years of visits to Crich that I have seen it running. I wonder how many trams at Crich are capable of being run after a small service but never are.

  7. tony stevenson says:

    The lunatics have taken over the asylum.

    • David Butterworth says:

      I agree. How can such a large legacy be snubbed twice in this way? it beggars belief. Perhaps they should try to alter the make-up of the board and recruit forward looking individuals rather than carry on with the old regime. I static tram in a museum is a poor substitute for a working vehicle and if a restoration were carried out sympathetically and looked ‘the part’ surely this would be preferable to the majority of enthusiasts.

      I have no connection with the group thankfully, so I feel free to make these comments.

  8. Peter G says:

    Leeds 602 has always been hailed as the most Modern Electric Tram to have graced the Streets of Leeds and thanks to the Government repeatedly rejecting and dithering over Leeds Supertram and the Trolleybus, it will probably remain ever so.
    It would be excellent to see this car up and running again for 2017, Sixty years since its withdrawal in Leeds or 2019 probably more realistic to comemmorate 60 years since the Leeds System closed.
    Crich needs to once again reconsider this decision.
    I had all the intention of leaving my Estate to the TMS as a Lifelong Tramway Enthusiast but changed my will recently as I decided that if a £250,000 bequest was turned down, my paltry by comparison amount will do more good to some of my other Transport interests.
    I bet I am not the only TMS Member or Enthusiast to think the same.
    Crich will lose a damn sight more than £250,000 unless attitudes change.
    One last point:-
    Is a Mancunian or any Enthusiast for that matter going to be upset or reject the rumoured Manchester Standard Tram I have heard is to be constructed from scratch as that won’t be the genuine article?.
    No, I didn’t think so!

    • Joginder Singh says:

      60163 Tornado is considered the 50th A1 locomotive and not a replica, And 60163 if far from being alone as their are several new build locomotive projects in hand including three GWR locomotive projects and a LBSCR Brighton 4-4-2 on the Bluebell

  9. Frank Gradwell says:

    There are more missing links in the tramway world than any other, and when one considers the new builds recreating history in the steam railway field, the Manchester potential alone shines out A Bogie and a Pilcher at Heaton Park would very soon find subscribers, I am certain.

    TMS is not the only potential user of voluntary funds.

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      I would think these Manchester trams have limited value in terms of national importance in relation to other ‘missing links’ – is a Manchester Standard that different to a Blackpool Standard, for example? I’m pleased you mentioned Heaton Park though as they would surely have a much greater relevance there than that at Crich. I do find it a bit strange though that there was no issue in accepting money to build a replica which is arguably changing the whole concept of what Crich is and does, yet the money for Leeds 602 was rejected.

      • Phill says:

        The Manchester car could be a good way of getting a new access tram that is much more in line with what visitors expect to ride on. Meanwhile, if it is decided that 602 shouldn’t be worked on, then it follows that the money specifically dedicated to getting it running can only be rejected. To do otherwise would be fraud.

        I do think the museum could have put more meat on the bones of why 602 should be conserved. It would be interesting to read, and would answer many questions, perhaps calming a lot of anger.
        There are parallels to the decision though. I understand that the NRM is highly unlikely to ever restore Mallard, Evening Star, the Deltic prototype, Stirling No.1, maybe even Green Arrow. All bar the deltic have ran and had work done in preservation, yet I believe are now conserved due to their historic importance and areas of originality.

  10. John says:

    Interesting comments re replicas. As I undertsand it replicas need to be DDA, historical reconstructions don’t. But my question is this – shouldn’t all the existing unrestored Trams be restored first?
    As for 602 information is conflicting at sparce about what was actually done to it previously – many sources say enough for it not to be considered ‘original’. Now surely as the National Museum Crich have a duty to display a working VAMBAC equipped car as part of the story of the Tram, rather than an arrow pinting to 602 with VAMBAC – its in there on it!

  11. Frank Gradwell says:

    DDA only applies to public transport vehicles in everyday use. Educational demonstration and historic artefacts are not caught by these nonsensical regulations which cause so much heat and light, but which can be complied with at far less cost than many industries have seen necessary.
    All that is actually required is a workable statement as to how the needs of the disabled – all disabled – will be addressed in an everyday deliverable manner, not the expenditure of vast sums of money playing to the gallery. The value of restoring wrecks from material that is more describable as a pattern for new rather than the replacement of missing links or classics is moot – but I for one would far prefer to see a Pilcher or a Mancunian bogie then yet another turn of the twentieth century open car.

    • Joginder Singh says:

      Precisely My point just how much of the material in LUT 159 is the original vehicle not a lot compared to say LPTB No1, Leeds 602 or Sheffield 510, Leeds 602 deserved to be restored to running order to show people the sort of next gen tram they could have ridden in had common sense prevailed back in the 50s and 60s and trams retained instead of the insane rush to a private car based transportation system in our major cities