On 18th October, the oldest surviving Birkenhead tramcar made a journey by road to the Pacific Road premises of the Birkenhead heritage tramway and museum. Birkenhead 7 had been stored at Hooton Park for a number of years after being removed from its previous display position at the Woodside Ferry terminal building, to enable a deconstructed U-Boat to replace it as the main display there.
Now, thanks to the co-operation of Wirral Council, this unique and historic tram has been returned to a place where it can be displayed to the public. For its road journey, the upper deck of the horse car was partly dismantled with the removal of its decency panels covered in period advertisements, leaving only the knifeboard seating as a clue that this is in fact a double-deck vehicle! On arrival at Taylor Street, a small crane on the lorry which moved the tram was used to unload it, and then for the very first time it was gingerly moved along rails on the heritage tramway to the rear of the depot, where it was placed over the maintenance pit. Here it is expected to receive some attention to improve its appearance for display, which will presumably include restoration of its upper deck. The current plan is to have the tram on display within a revamped museum area in this building, with a preserved Mersey Ferry toll booth also expected to join it as a new display.
For now, it is most pleasing to see this remarkable survivor from Britain’s first street tramway system back on public display and hopefully this marks the beginning of an upturn in its fortunes following some years of neglect.