Seaton Tramway 40th Anniversary Gala Weekend

The Seaton Tramway in Devon are celebrating their 40th anniversary this year having opened in August 1970. As part of their year of celebrations their usual Gala Weekend had added significance including the launch of a tram in a special 40th anniversary livery and an appearance by past Eurovision winners Brotherhood of Man – performing on top of a tram! British Trams Online Webmaster Gareth Prior reports from most of the weekends events.

Friday 4th June 2010

An early arrival in Devon before the events started the day before was met with glorious hot sunshine (a rarity for me at Seaton as my last couple of visits – and only ones I can really remember – have been at the End of Season Gala held at the end of October, when it was anything but warm!) and just a normal day for the tramway. A 20 minute service was in operation which on busy days normally utilises four trams (it can operate with three but a fourth is used because of tight turnarounds at Seaton – the driver brings a tram in, then swaps to one which had operated the previous journey and had been bought forward by the Inspector to save time). However, 10 suffered a minor fault during the day and had to returned to Depot for this to be rectified which it was quickly and the tram returned to service towards the end of the day.

As well as the four trams in service 4 – styled on a Blackpool Boat Car – was seen at Colyton where it seemed to be running either Driver Training runs or was being used for a Driving Experience.

Trams In Service:

8, 9, 10 (out of service briefly in middle of day), 11

Also Out:

4 (Driver Training/Driver Experience)

Saturday 5th June 2010

The first day of the Gala Weekend got off to a bit of a slow start mainly because a railtour was heading its way to the tramway with around 300 participants (not that the train was actually running to Seaton as the tramway runs on the old railway trackbed!) and trams were being held back for their arrival. The first tram of the day was the pretty in pink 8 whilst the other main service cars were 2, the cramped 6 and 9.

At the start of the day 17 and 16 were stabled at Seaton terminus in preparation for the railtour participants and they were joined by 10 and 11 slightly later in the morning. Come midday and the coaches from the railtour arrived and the four trams came into their own – moving the crowds up to Colyton! These trams then entered service as “Service Extras” and remained in service for the majority of the rest of the day.

As is tradition at Seaton special events Tram Driving Experiences were being offered where for £20 you could drive a tram from Colyton to Colyford and back. In my previous visits this had always been in the hands of 16 but this time former Metropolitan tram 14 was in charge of these. Ex-Exeter tramcar 19 was also being used on the Depot Tour shuttles (on this day the tours were for those off the railtour) running from Seaton terminus into the Depot whilst 4 was used on a photographers special, again for the tour participants.

During the afternoon the service was disrupted because of a power outage (just like being in Blackpool!) Unfortunately this happened at a really bad time as it was at a time when the tour participants needed to get on their coaches at Seaton to catch their train back to London, and many of them were still at Colyton! In order to help people get back to Seaton 14 was taken off the Driver Experience and was pressed into service whilst 19 entered normal service. At the end of all this slight chaos it was almost impossible to tell whether the same four trams were actually still on the timetabled service – but to be honest it doesn’t really matter!

Into the early evening and it was coming towards the time for the official launch of 12 – its current design being based on London’s famous Feltham tramcar – which had been painted in a new livery for the 40th anniversary. The tram duly left Depot and headed for Seaton terminus shortly before 1700 with VIP guests BBC Newsreader Nicholas Owen and 1976 Eurovision Song Contest winners Brotherhood of Man on board. Upon arrival at Seaton and after some twirling (or whatever they do!) from the Seaton Majorettes the launch ceremony was started with a speech from the Chairman of the Tramway who then passed onto Brotherhood of Man. In one of most bizarre things I think I have seen on the top of a tram they then performed two songs to the massed crowds including their Eurovision winner “Save All Your Kisses For Me”. Mr Owen then gave a short speech and the tram was launched into use with Nicholas Owen driving the tram to Colyton where an anniversary concert featuring Brotherhood of Man was to take place during the evening.

A number of special tram journeys for Concert ticket holders took place in the early evening and this included 4 which ran from the siding at the Seaton terminus.

Main Service Cars

2, 6, 8, 9

Service Extras

10, 11, 16, 17

Also Out

4 (Photographers Special), 12 (official launch into service), 14 (Tram Driving Experience Colyton-Colyford), 19 (Depot Tours Seaton-Depot)

Also Used in Service

4 (evening to Colyton Concert), 14 (crowd mover from Colyton to Seaton for UK Railtours participants), 19 (late afternoon)

Sunday 6th June 2010

Not a full day spent in Seaton as I had to get back home after a second successive weekend away (and an adventure to get back by public transport as the Axminster-Seaton bus does not operate on Sundays!) but still an action packed morning and early afternoon. On this day the first tram in service was 10 and it was joined by 2, 9 and 12 as the main service cars with the “extras” being 6, 8, 11, 17 and 19 (although 19 was seen going to Colyton once and not actually returning for several hours!)

The Tram Driving Experience once again operated and 14 was again the tram of choice for this whilst 16 was used on the Depot Tour shuttles. Meanwhile, 4 was out on a Photographers special which involved several strange shunting moves to keep out the way of trams in service. However, not many people were interested in this Photographer Special (probably partly because they were unaware it was taking place due to a lack of publicity around what was actually happening at the event) and so it was taking normal passengers as well.

This day also saw the annual Classic Car Show at Colyton and this bought more people to the tramway with the exhibitors at the event being entitled to a free rover ticket for the tramway.

With the exception of 7 – which remains in the Depot undergoing a protracted overhaul all the passenger trams were in service during this Gala Day – not a mean feat for the tramway.

Main Service Cars

2, 9, 10, 12

Service Extras

6, 8, 11, 17, 19

Also Out

4 (Photographers Special – also used as Service Extra during first tour), 14 (Tram Driving Experience Colyton-Colyford), 16 (Depot Tours Seaton-Depot)

Also on British Trams Online:

Gallery 225: Seaton Tramway 40th Anniversary Gala Weekend – 53 photos from Gareth Prior

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