Beamish trams on the turn!

February has seen not one, not two, but three of the resident tramcars at Beamish Museum placed on a low loader! However, none of the cars have actually left the museum grounds, but this was simply a means of turning each of them around to even out the amount of wear and tear on their wheels and other vital components.

It is well known that Beamish has probably the most punishing tramway of any operating museum in the UK, being not only the longest such line but also boasting various curves and the infamously steep Pockerley Bank. This naturally has an effect on its operational tram fleet and as a result, the seemingly rather extreme measure was taken to even the wear on their wheels at each end. Over a few days, all of Sunderland 16, Newcastle 114 and Oporto 196 were winched onto a low loader supplied by Calkeld’s Heavy Haulage, turned around, and then unloaded again. The procedures were all carried out at Pockerley. For 16, this was its first time on a lorry since its restoration at Beamish although both 114 and 196 have travelled on a low loader in the recent past, having enjoyed loan periods at Crich and Heaton Park respectively.

Further appearances by a low loader at Beamish are expected in the fairly near future as Blackpool Standard 147 is due to return home next month, following a ‘farewell’ weekend of operation on March 4th & 5th. This will enable Blackpool 31 to return to the North East at around the same time, although this tram is expected to undergo some workshop attention before re-entering service due to worn tyre profiles. In addition, Blackpool Balloon 703 AKA Sunderland 101 should also be heading back to the Fylde coast once arrangements for its transportation are finalised. So, the hauliers look set to be making plenty of trips to Beamish for a while yet!

A very unusual scene with Sunderland 16 on a low loader near Pockerley at Beamish. Further images of the trams being turned around are available on the museum's Facebook page. (Photo courtesy of Beamish Museum)


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6 Responses to Beamish trams on the turn!

  1. Geoff, Isle of Man says:

    Just a thought: would it be worth installing a track triangle, to enable this manoeuvre to be carried out in future? This would avoid all the complication and expense of low-loaders.

  2. Kevin says:

    It would need to be in very good condition or new for the amount of wear one side would get at Beamish. The cost of a new set would be in the hundreds of thousands. A decent second hand set could be an option, though there would be the question of where you put it!

  3. Alan Kirkman says:

    Perhaps everyone should remember that the amount that had to be raised ( so quickly) for 703’s transport from Beamish to Blackpool was £1500. It is very likely that is more than the cost of the one day spent doing these turns. So there’s a simple question could Beamish get and lay a triangle with 3 good points for the cost of a vehicle hire every few years?? I think not nor would it be a good use of the maintenance teams time which is probably even more valuable.

  4. Ian Robinson says:

    Or they could build a turntable, similar to the two used for trolleybuses one at Longwood near Huddersfield and the other at Christchurch (still in existence!). Similar to those used on railways to turn wagons in tight places.

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      From my admittedly very limited knowledge of railway turntables, I think one would be a lot more expensive than the hire of a lorry!

  5. Ken Walker says:

    Maybe they could just preserve a low loader and use that!

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