When the Covid-19 pandemic hit the UK and major restrictions were put in place affecting everyday life it seemed the chances of celebrating various anniversaries in 2020 had been put to bed. But not to be deterred by the continuing, albeit relaxed, restrictions the Seaton Tramway have announced that on Friday 28th August they will be attempting to run all 13 operational trams to help celebrate their 50th anniversary.
It was 28th August 1970 that the first public trams ran on the trackbed of the former Seaton Junction to Seaton railway line when no. 8 operated between Riverside and Bobsworth Bridge (so called as the initial fare was one shilling) using battery power. Now, 50 years later the milestone will be celebrated with all the current operational trams in service during the day – including no. 8 as well 4 and 19, both of which hasn’t been initially commissioned from service upon reopening in July.
The past 50 years have seen much development at the tramway with trams now running all the way from Seaton to Colyford, a three mile ride through Axe Valley on specially built and rebuilt trams for the 2’9” gauge. Recent changes have included the new Seaton terminus whilst 2021 should see two new halts opened on the line at Riverside and also at Seaton Wetlands. The two new halts are both part of the “Travels Through Heritage and the Axe Valley” project which will also see the creation of a new Learning and Activity department.
The 13 trams due to operate on 28th August (subject to maintenance and availability) will be 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16 and 19. That only equals 12 so presumably number 13 will be Works Car 02.
Josh Castree, Marketing Manager at Seaton Tramway, said: “The pandemic and resulting lockdown has created unprecedented and difficult times across the industries the tramway shares, with Heritage Railways and Tourism & leisure. Railways & Tramways like ours survive because of the amazing support we get from our visitors and passengers through donations and ticket sales. In a time where people our rightly self-isolating, charities’ futures can be put at risk. But we saw amazing support through our online Tramathon and thank each and every person who donated, big or small. It was great to see so many people engaging across the world, from London to America to Australia.”
It has been confirmed that more than £31,000 has been raised through their fundraising campaign which culminated into a 24 hour Tramathon along the line.
The Seaton Tramway is open daily from 1000 with August seeing up to seven trams in action each day. But Friday 28th August will go that step further with all 13 out on the line, adding to the spectacle at the tramway.