The last week of March 2012 is turning out to be good one for Britain’s preserved trams. Mere hours after Blackpool Boat car 233 performed its first test run at Beamish Museum, it was the turn of London United 159 to make history. On Tuesday 27th March, the tram made its first tentative moves around the depot yard at Crich under its own power.
159 was an early withdrawl from service and was lucky to survive for long enough to ensure its preservation, but it had a long wait for restoration, spending many years in the Tramway Museum Society’s storage depots at Clay Cross. The remains of the car finally came to Crich in 2005 and since then have been completely rebuilt, turning this derelict shell into a fully functioning tram. It has also become the first tram at Crich to have new bogies constructed from scratch, incorporating a few parts from other sources. The tram made a splendid sight when it was driven along the depot track fan on March 27th, and although a few minor jobs remain to be completed, this is a major step towards the long-awaited entry into service of this tram. It is hoped, but not confirmed, that 159 will be launched into service during a London event at Crich in July, being held to make 60 years since the city’s last day of tram operation. The large blue and white open topper is sure to be a very welcome addition to the running fleet and its launch will be another cause for major celebration at the National Tramway Museum. Hopefully the painstaking work carried out on 159 will be rewarded and it will run successfully for many years to come – but 27th March 2012 will always be remembered as its first day of running in preservation!
Photos of London 159 running under its own steam can be seen at the official Crich Tramway Village blog page: http://www.crichtramwayvillagenews.blogspot.co.uk/