Just one week ago, the Seaton Tramway in Devon was devastated by severe weather conditions, which flooded the tramway’s offices, damaged overhead poles and washed away part of the track bed, scuppering plans to re-open for business in time for the school half term holidays. However, the attraction is now set to burst back into life thanks the imagination of its operators, who have taken extreme lengths to restore a tram service mere days after disaster struck.
On Friday 21st February, two trams from the Seaton fleet were extracted from the Riverside Depot, and transported by road to the opposite end of the line, at Colyton. Cars 6 and 8, two of the oldest and smallest trams in the fleet, were chosen and first to move was the older of the pair, car 6. A crane was used to move the tiny open-top tram onto a waiting low loader, and it then made the short journey to the familiar destination of Colyton station, where it was deposited. The lorry then returned to the tram depot, where the exercise was repeated with similar car 8, which is currently painted in an approximation of the dark blue livery of Bristol’s former tram system. By the end of the day, both trams were huddled up together at Colyton, ready for the resumption of operation the very next day.
This move was the only way possible to restore any form of tram service, due to the extent of damage sustained due to the tramway’s infrastructure. From Saturday 22nd February, a limited tram service will operate between Colyton and Colyford using trams 6 and 8. Dubbed the ‘rainbow service’, a special £5 ticket will be sold, which will not only entitle visitors to a return trip along the one mile section of the line that is currently useable, but also a return visit before Easter to ride on the trams again and see progress on repairs to the rest of the tramway.
Meanwhile, contractors are already hard at work to restore a full-length tram service at Seaton, and the nearby South Devon Railway are kindly helping out by providing additional manpower to ensure that the work is completed as quickly as possible. The tramway’s efforts to overcome this unfortunate turn of events is extremely impressive, and having attracted considerable media attention through its recent plight, it is to be hoped that many members of the public will support the tramway now that such great efforts have been made to re-open.