This coming weekend – Saturday 6th to Monday 8th May – will see Beamish celebrating 50 years of operation for the tramway which now runs for 1.5 miles around the museum site. A new event for 2023 – Fares Please! Public Transport Weekend – will be the centrepiece of the celebrations, although unfortunately its not quite the event that had originally been planned!
It had been hoped that Gateshead 10’s extensive and long-running overhaul would be ready in time for it to play a starring role in the event (it being the first tram at Beamish) but it has now been confirmed that there have been further delays in its overhaul and it will now not be ready until at least spring 2024. There are numerous reasons for the delay including the temporary closure of the machine shop to allow an upgrade, staff leaving for other roles elsewhere and breakdowns which have required attention. Beamish remain committed to completing the project in full and so the decision to delay the return of the tram has been made – we’re sure that it will be a sight to behold when it is back in use though!
Breakdowns were mentioned in the previous paragraph and unfortunately this includes Sheffield 264 which will also be missing the event, but should be on display. 264 has suffered a motor cooling fan failure and with the motor now removed consideration is being given as to whether to give it a full overhaul at this time.
With no 10 and no 264 it leaves four trams available: Sunderland 16, Blackpool 31, Newcastle 114 and Oporto 196. All should play some part in the event with a tram service of up to four trams mentioned in the pre-event publicity.
Initial plans for the event had also included a visiting tram but again this hasn’t been possible at this time so it will just be the resident fleet available for action.
That is what isn’t happening but there will still be plenty to keep the transport enthusiast happy! On Sunday 7th and Monday 8th May there will be a Model Tram and Bus Exhibition in the 1950s Welfare Hall.
And if buses are your thing then there 20 visiting buses alongside the resident bus fleet – with the majority due to be in service. The Beamish website gives full details of these buses.
The weekend also sees Beamish’s Coronation celebrations.