The operational fleet at Crich increased further on Saturday 7th July with the launch of London United Tramways 159 after an extensive seven year restoration. Unfortunately 159’s day in the limelight was spoilt towards the end of the day when it suffered a minor fault which ruled it out of an active role in the following days “London 60” event.
London United Tramways 159 is a Type W car which was built by G F Milnes of Birkenhead in 1902. One of the most interesting features of these cars was the Robinson staircase which rather than being the usual “spiral” style associated with most trams saw two straight sections of stairway joined by a landing. The tram is also the height of luxury with carpets and curtains present on the lower deck – a far cry from the modern day trams operating in London today! Having entered service in 1902 most of the W class of trams were initially concentrated on routes from Hampton Court to Hammersmith and Wimbledon. 50 of this class were given top covers and another 10 were sold on for further use but 159 was not one of these and it was withdrawn in 1923. Following withdrawal the tram was sold for use as living accommodation and it was still in this use in 1978 when
it was discovered at Ewhurst Green in Surrey. Transfer to the Clay Cross store soon followed and it then waited its turn for restoration. This duly came in 2005 when it was moved to Crich for the major work to commence.
The story of the restoration of the tram has been well documented on this site but finally after seven years hard graft in the workshops at Crich the tram has been readied for service and it certainly looks stunning and a credit to all the staff and volunteers within the workshop who have made it happen. The addition of 159 to the operating fleet not only means there is an extra London for the public to enjoy but adds an extra open topper for those warm sunny days which happen oh so often during the great British summer.
Back to the launch day and 159 was driven out of the Workshop for a ceremony to take place. Two special guests were invited to this ceremony with Sir George White, a descendant of the founder of London United Tramways, and Carroll Taylor, who is a member of the family who once lived in the tram, both present on the day. Ian Ross of the LCCCT was also present and the tram was officially handed over to current TMS President Chris Thornburn. Following speeches 159 made its first journeys with passengers on board with these initial few journeys seeing invited guests and members of the LCCCT enjoying the chance to ride on the tram for the first time in nearly 90 years!
After these official trips 159 entered passenger service. Unfortunately it was during one of
these public trips that the tram suffered a minor failure which entailed the tram having to withdrawn from service not only on its launch day but also from the following days “London 60” event.
At the London 60 event on Sunday 8th July six different passenger trams saw service with London trams 331, 1622 and Johannesburg 60 (as it is similar to some trams which operated in West Ham) plus Glasgow 22, Blackpool 40 and Leeds 180. In addition Croydon Tramlink 058 (“KLV” works tram) operated on the main line and London
County Council 106 and London United Tramways 159 were on static display on the Depot fan. (More coverage of this event may follow when Andrew returns from having computer problems!)
Following the problems that 159 suffered late on the Saturday it is currently not operational as an investigation is undertaken in the Workshop.
The restoration of 159 has been funded by the London County Council Tramways Trust, a major supporter of the London trams at Crich. More details on the LCCCT, what their aims are for the future and how you can help them achieve these aims can be found on their website at http://www.lcctt.org.uk/.