Clay Cross clearout?

For many years, the number of items stored at the Tramway Museum Society’s Clay Cross store has steadily increased, as more trams have been added to the national collection. This has recently reached the point where the storage premises are full to bursting point, and so it is pleasing to see that this long-running trend looks set to be reversed during 2013, with some of the Society’s hidden gems potentially facing a more positive future.

Last year it was announced that the TMS intended to dispose of an unrestored North Metropolitan horse car, whilst the remains of Gateshead 52 are to be transferred to Beamish Museum for eventual restoration. These decisions seem to have started the ball rolling, and plans have now been revealed for two more items to leave Clay Cross after many years of storage there.

Firstly, the body of an Eades reversible horse tram – which joined the TMS collection little more than a decade ago – is expected to move to Crich for display in the Exhibition Hall. With Leeds 107 also due to come to Crich later this year, this will give the Museum an unrivalled collection of horse-drawn tramcars showing a variety of different designs. Of course, the Manchester Transport Museum Society have restored Manchester L53, which is the only operational tram of this type in existence anywhere in the world, but to have an unrestored body available for display at Crich will nonetheless be an extremely valuable addition to their display.

Even more surprisingly, the TMS has recently received a request from a family who maintain a small display of local transport related items at an entertainment venue in Nottingham. These people are keen to include a representative of Nottingham’s original tram system, in light of a planned extension to the modern Nottingham Express Transit which would see the new trams pass this location. Initial discussions indicate that the Society is likely to release the remains of Nottingham 121 for this project. Only one end platform of this tram survives, and with two other, much more complete Nottingham tram bodies having been acquired more recently (numbers 92 and 166), 121 would be of much greater value as part of a display in its home city than it would ever be to the TMS. In reality there was never much chance of the tram being restored to running order, but at least this plan would allow what survives of the car going on display to the public offering a contrast to its more modern cousins.

It remains to be seen whether any further trams are earmarked to leave Clay Cross in the near future, but for Nottingham 121‘s cab end and the Eades horse car, the future is looking much brighter and it is a very pleasing development to see plans being formulated for these often forgotten trams.

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