Not content to be bringing the unique LCC 1 ‘Bluebird’ back to life, the London County Council Tramways Trust have confirmed that its next project will be the reconstruction of a London horse tramcar, which has been provisionally allocated a slot in the Crich workshop in 2021.
A long-term ambition of the Trust has been to recreate a double-deck horse car from the capital city. Two suitable bodies exist in the national collection: the remains of North Metropolitan Tramways 184, which has been in storage since 1970s, and another example which was rescued from Wales much more recently. Both trams have been dismantled and are now stored in ‘flat pack’ form at Clay Cross, and it is likely that parts of both will be used to create a ‘new’ tram, likely to be given fleet number 184. The LCCTT has already pledged to provide the required finance for the project, which is estimated to cost about £100,000 to complete, and should take at least a year. Although a space in the works is available in 2021 as it currently stands, it should be stressed that this is flexible and may well be subject to change.
One of the biggest challenges in this reconstruction will be research, as so little of either vehicle survives that there are many unanswered questions regarding the final appearance of the restored tram. However, having seen how the Crich workshop team have done wonders with similarly derelict tram bodies in the past, such as Sheffield 74 and London United Tramways 159, then a superb end result can be expected!
As well as adding to the extensive collection of London trams at Crich, this addition would also give the museum an operational double-deck horse tram, something it has never had before – assuming we ignore Leeds 107, which has never run at Crich since its arrival in 2013 despite being fully restored immediately prior to its delivery. The usefulness of the tram could of course be questioned, and the costs involved seem rather high compared with other restorations elsewhere – but in terms of historic value, then North Metropolitan Tramways 184 will no doubt be a wonderful addition to the active fleet at Crich, and provide a welcome change from Sheffield 15 on the horse tram running days arranged throughout the year.