Following an absence of around five decades, it should soon be possible to ride on a Liverpool ‘Baby Grand’ tram once again, with the restoration of Liverpool 245 for operation on the Birkenhead heritage tramway approaching completion. An ambitious completion target of July 31st has been set in connection with the Heritage Lottery Fund, who are providing financial support towards the project to return this tram to full running order.
The original target deadline for the completion of 245‘s restoration has actually already passed. Due to various delays in work on the underframe and truck by contractors, this proved impossible to meet – fortunately, the Heritage Lottery Fund have agreed to a six-month extension. Volunteer members of the Merseyside Tramway Preservation Society have been working extremely hard on the tram since the return of its underframe to Birkenhead on January 11th. The MTPS are now optimistic that they can meet the revised deadline, although it is unclear what the implications would be if this does not happen. The worst case scenario would be that the grant funding could be lost, which could have severe implications for the tram’s completion. However, past evidence suggests that, if any organisation can complete 245 in time, then it will be the MTPS – the evidence being the high quality restoration jobs undertaken on their other trams, including Lisbon 730 which was rebuilt from a derelict wreck within just two years.
Recent work on Liverpool 245 has included fitting of all upper deck ceiling panels, along with the installation of the re-chromed lamps and bell pushes. The trolley plank has also been re-fitted, and the trolley arm has been wrapped in insulation tape. The rain deflectors have been fitted to the windows upstairs only, these will follow on the lower deck as well once repanelling work is completed. Meanwhile, following the reunion of the car body with its underframe, the steel cradle used to support the tram is now considered surplus to requirements, and the Society may be willing to consider selling it, either for re-use or scrap.