Stockport 5 has been undergoing major workshop attention at the Heaton Park Tramway for the past couple of years, having not operated since 2013 due to issues with its roof. Whilst the overhaul has been progressing the tram has been stationery at the rear of the original Middleton Road tram depot, with its top deck decency panels detached for much of this time – but recently the tram was moved outside to enjoy a long overdue blast of the great outdoors!
On Sunday 15th October, 5 was brought outside for the first time in almost two years. Before this move, the decency panels were safely fixed into position temporarily to enable it to be shunted out onto the main line, and it was then stabled on the siding opposite the depot. This enabled Blackpool Vanguard 619 to be brought into the workshop area and moved over the pit for some mechanical attention, which was completed within the day enabling Stockport 5 to be returned to its normal position. It is hoped that 619 will be treated to a more thorough overhaul, including a full repaint, over the coming winter – but this bit of TLC should see it through to the end of this season.
There is still a large amount of work to complete on car 5 although much has been achieved in recent weeks and months. Most recent work has been largely concentrating on weatherproofing works, as well as preparing the body for some remedial paintwork to be carried out by Heritage Painting in the near future. All of the visible framework in the lower saloon has been treated with at least three coats of varnish, and most of the top deck has been refurbished with a firbreglass and resin sealing technique used, as opposed to the more traditional method of painting canvas. The lower deck ceiling requires replacement; this will use hardboard as opposed to the white enamelled milboard previously employed, which is no longer available.
Stockport 5 has been much missed from the operational fleet at Heaton Park and it is hoped that the ongoing work to restore it to a much better condition will soon be completed, so this popular open top car can resume its career on the preserved line.