In a very unexpected but extremely welcome development, the Black Country Living Museum have taken steps towards restoring one of their tram collection to operational
status following a lengthy period of neglect. This museum rarely makes the news as it normally runs just one tram, but it seems that the management have decided to make a positive step and invest in its vehicles with a much-needed overhaul on the cards for Dudley & Stourbridge 5.
5 is a small four-wheel enclosed single-deck tram known as a ‘Tividale’, typical of many cars which ran in the Black Country in the 1920s. This tram was actually restored to working order back in the 1970s and was the sole operational tram at the Black Country Living Museum for around twenty years, after which its role as the core service tram was taken over by the newly restored Wolverhampton 34, another Tividale car. Two decades of intensive year-round service had unsurprisingly left car 5 in a very bad way, and soon after completion of 34, it was withdrawn from service. In later years the tram was dumped in a yard near to the museum’s car park and largely forgotten about, with a tarpaulin sheet its only protection from the elements. All those years of hard work had been cast aside and 5 looked very sorry for itself, with peeling paintwork and signs of
severe deterioration all too apparent.
Happily, we can now report that 5‘s fortunes have changed for the better. On 22nd February, the tram left the museum and was transported to the Llangollen Railway in Wales, where it will be treated to a heavy overhaul. Once this is complete the car will return to Dudley and will once again run on the short tramway at this museum. The move was undertaken by Scott’s Heavy Haulage and is thought to be the first time they have ever moved a narrow-gauge tramcar, but the firm made easy work of the loading process and the little tram was soon on its way. Unfortunately on arrival at Wales, 5 was deposited outside again, but hopefully it will not be too long before it can be moved undercover for work to start.
It is not known how long it will take to restore Dudley & Stourbridge 5 back to its former glory, but the Black Country Living Museum deserve to be congratulated for investing in one of its long-forgotten assets. Ironically, Wolverhampton 34‘s condition has declined significantly since its restoration as history has repeated itself and extensive use has taken its toll, and so it could well be that 5 will become the main service car again, replacing the tram that replaced it in the late 1990s! Perhaps 34 itself may also receive the attention it deserves in due course, which would allow the mileage to be shared between two trams and hopefully prevent either of them from deteriorating to such an extent again.
Our thanks go to Andrew Blood of Trams Today for the information contained in this
article. For some pictures of 5′s departure from the Black Country, please visit his Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Trams-Today/144002195699684