It has been some time since British Trams Online carried news on the project to restore Brighton 53, the last surviving passenger tramcar from this seaside town. Its custodians, the Brighton Tram 53 Society, have recently been looking at potential funding opportunities and submitted an application for a Science Museum PRISM grant. Disappointingly however, no finance has been forthcoming from this source, although the small team dedicated to working on the tram keep working undeterred by this setback.
With meagre resources, a small group of volunteers have been hard at work on 53. Recent removal of the external panels has revealed the body and underframe to be in a remarkably sound condition, no doubt helped by its short working life in Brighton. Following some welding and heavy cleaning, the original underframe is now being painted. The side panelling has been carefully removed to allow paint stripping, so that the ornate lettering on the body sides can be copied and recreated when the tram itself reaches a more advanced state. Meanwhile, the truck intended for use underneath 53 – currently in outside storage – has been sheeted over to protect it from the elements as winter approaches. Some work has also been undertaken on Graz 225, the other tram on site which is used primarily as a mess room and tool store. The tram has now shed virtually all traces of the livid purple livery it carried during its final years of operation at Summerlee before it was donated to the Brighton group in 2010, in favour of a fresh coat of green paint. Some glass has also been replaced in this car.
Recent estimates suggest that the required work to restore the body of Brighton 53 will cost approximately £25,000 with a further £19,000 needed to refurbish the second-hand truck acquired to accommodate the car. Although presumably these estimates are based on a cosmetic restoration, this still represents very good value for money and considering 53’s uniqueness, it is to be sincerely hoped that any further requests for funding are more successful. In the meantime, anyone wishing to support the project to restore Brighton 53 can find out more by visiting the Society’s website: http://www.brightontram53.org.uk