Two tram preservation groups hosted special events on Sunday 7th August. The North Eastern Electrical Traction Trust (NEETT) played host to their annual ‘Tram & Transport Sunday’ at their headquarters at the North East Land, Sea & Air Museum near Sunderland, whilst over in Manchester, the Heaton Park Tramway paid tribute to vintage transport from nearby Oldham.
Looking at NEETT first, and their main event of the year once again featured a variety of visiting vehicles displayed around the museum site. On the tram front, two of the group’s Blackpool trams were opened up for visitors to view: Trailer 684 was dragged out of the depot and displayed just peeking out, whilst inside, Balloon car 721 was also opened up for inspection. Unfortunately the rear part of the building was roped off to prevent visitor access; despite being billed as potentially the last opportunity to see Illuminated Hovertram 735 at Sunderland before it returns to Blackpool shortly, this tram remained at the back of the depot meaning it was impossible to get a good look at it. Incidentally, the Hovertram is blocked in by both Balloon cars 708 and 721, which will clearly complicate the task of extracting it for its journey back to the seaside.
It was on 3rd August 1946 that the very last traditional electric tram ran in Oldham. To mark the 70th anniversary of this sad occasion, the Heaton Park Tramway held a special commemorative event on the nearest Sunday to the actual date. This turned out to be an understandably low-key event, the main attraction being the unrestored body shell of Oldham 43 – the only preserved tram from this operator – which was dragged out of its usual hiding place at the rear of Lakeside Depot and posed alongside a visiting Oldham bus. Hull 96, which is painted in a maroon and cream livery similar to that of Oldham Corporation’s trams, was also posed with the duo for part of the day, with its immaculate appearance a far cry from the derelict remains of 43! There were also some large model Oldham trams on display and a usual tram service operating. It had been hoped to use solely local trams in passenger service, but with work on Stockport 5 incomplete, this left only Manchester 765 available and therefore Hull 96 was also used.
There seem to be a growing number of small events taking place at various tramways and museums, which depending on what they involve, can certainly add additional interest to these places at minimal cost. Certainly for smaller groups, it can be hard to compete and so spending large amounts of money and time on an event can be risky, although naturally the rewards can be far greater if they are a success. Bearing this in mind we can probably expect more mini events to take place in the months and years ahead, but hopefully this won’t be at the expense of the greater spectacles that the likes of Crich, Beamish and Heaton Park have all proved themselves to be more than capable of delivering.