In Pictures: The Beamish Tramway celebrates 50 years!

The Beamish Tramway has reached a major historical milestone with it having clocked up 50 years of operation – and rapidly approaching becoming the longest running of all tramways in the north east of England! To celebrate the 50th anniversary a special event was planned at the museum over the Coronation Bank Holiday weekend (6th to 8th May) which included all four operational trams in action along with a number of buses.

It had originally been hoped that Fares Please! would mark the return to service of Gateshead 10 after the conclusion of a major overhaul but unfortunately the start of 2023 has seen some delays in this project so it now looks likely that it won’t be until spring 2024 that it is back in service. 10 was the very first tram on site in 1973 and so it would have been a nice circle to the history of the tramway if it had been running but sometimes the maintenance of the trams doesn’t always lend itself to anniversaries!

In the weeks leading up to the event a further tram was also sidelined with Sheffield 264 suffering a motor fault and thus being withdrawn from service awaiting this to be repaired. With the idea of getting a loan tram to help celebrate the occasion also not providing possible this led to just the four operational trams to fly the tramways flag. These are, of course, Sunderland 16, Blackpool 31, Newcastle 114 and Oporto 196.

With the event not only celebrating the tramways anniversary but also showcasing public transport a selection of buses were on display in service. This not only included Beamish’s resident fleet but also several visitors for the event. The buses ran around the museum site on the anti-clockwise circuit whilst the trams ran around the 1.5 mile tramway in a clockwise direction.

The weekend also saw Beamish’s Coronation celebrations and then on Sunday 7th and Monday 8th May the 1950s Welfare Hall saw a Model Tramway Exhibition. As well as several layouts, Nexus were on site to show a model of their new trains along with free gifts including a card model of the new trains!

  • A full collection of photos will follow on British Trams Online in a future update.

Newcastle 114 was celebrating the anniversary with special between deck boards stating “Fifty Years of Service”. This is not the first time this boards have been seen on the tram with it carrying them when visiting Crich in 2014!

Sunderland 16 heads towards the Town.

Oporto 196 is caught here at Foulbridge just as the Access Bus, Crosville 716, comes out of the depot area to transport guests. Sunderland Corporation 48 of 1964 is at the bus stop on the opposite side.

With trams all running in the same direction its difficult to get two in the same shot – except at the start of the day. That’s when this image was captured of Blackpool 31 and Newcastle 114 at the Entrance on a dank start to 7th May.

Oporto 196 is seen heading between the Town and Pockerley.

Sunderland meets Sunderland at Foulbridge. Closest to us is Sunderland Corporation Crossley bus 13 with Sunderland 16 providing the tram interest for us on the other side. A few of the other buses at the event can be seen in the background.

Amongst the models was this layout including the Tyne and Wear Metro.

And trams from Stockport.

There was also a Blackpool layout. Included here are a Boat Car and the Hovertram at Bispham. (All Photographs by Gareth Prior)

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