The long-running restoration of the last surviving Warrington tramcar by members of the Merseyside Tramway Preservation Society has taken an interesting twist, with the discovery of new evidence regarding the tram’s past prompting some discussion regarding the condition in which it will ultimately be restored. Warrington 2 has been under attention by the expert volunteers at Birkenhead for several years but there is still some uncertainty regarding how it will look.
When car 2 was first acquired for restoration by the MTPS, it was intended to restore it as an open-balcony car, which would fill a significant gap in their collection as well as adding another local tram to the Birkenhead fleet. Like many early double-deck trams, Warrington 2 started life as an open topper which was modified with a top cover being added in later life. However, subsequent research proved that 2 had gone straight from an open top deck to being fully enclosed, and it was therefore decided to return it to its final condition instead.
At the Society’s Annual General Meeting, held late last year, this decision was debated as some members felt unhappy with the decision, presumably because it will give them a tram which will look fairly similar to the fellow MTPS-owned Liverpool 762. It has been suggested that, although this individual tram never had open balconies, other similar cars did, and that it would be a more valuable addition to their collection if it was rebuilt in this manner, even though its appearance would not be authentic to this vehicle. This would not be the first time that a museum had restored a tram to reflect a condition in which it never ran, but which its sisters did – London Transport 1622 at the National Tramway Museum, which has been rebuilt in ‘rehabilitated’ condition, being a good example. Other trams, such as London County Council 106 at Crich and Wolverhampton 49 at the Black Country Living Museum, have had some compromises made so they could operate at their respective homes, as neither car ever ran in passenger service using overhead collection outside of preservation.
Ultimately, the final decision on Warrington 2 will follow another meeting, with members of the MTPS expected to be invited to offer their views on the situation. However, with work on Liverpool 245 currently taking priority this is unlikely to happen for a while, giving interested parties plenty of time to mull over the options for the future of this unique tram.