Lost Trams 11: Glasgow 585

Next up in our Lost Trams series is a tram which has been out of the public eye since 1999 but which does remain in the UK – Glasgow 585.

Glasgow 585 – a Glasgow Standard tramcar – entered service in May 1901 and was originally an open topper but was soon fitted with a short top cover (as sister car 22 operates with currently at Crich). It was then fully rebuilt in 1930 to a fully enclosed condition – and it is this style that the tram is in today.

Withdrawal came in October 1961 and the tram was restored to the 1930’s condition including a repaint into the blue route colour livery. Originally purchased by a private individual it was initially planned that 585 would make the trip to Leeds and the proposed tram scheme at the Middleton Railway but when it became apparent that this scheme was not likely to go anyway the plans changed. It was then presented to the Science Museum in London and it departed Scotland for the last time in November 1962.

585 was put on display at the Science Museum in Kensington and it remained there as a prominent exhibit for almost 40 years. But then with the millennium approaching a major revamp of the Science Museum saw the tram transferred away from the main site and it was transported to Wroughton in Wiltshire for storage. At this time it was still possible to see 585 as the large object store was open to the public on limited occasions but sadly with redevelopment work ongoing at the former Second World War airfield this is no longer possible and the tram is now out of public view.

Our photo shows 585 at the Wroughton store on 26th September 1999 surrounded by other transport objects which are no longer on public display at the main London site.

Glasgow 585 at the Science Museum's Wroughton store on 26th September 1999. (Photo: Bob Hodges)

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11 Responses to Lost Trams 11: Glasgow 585

  1. Ferdinand Ficklewidget says:

    Would it not make sense for this car to be placed on permanent loan to Blackpool, where I think it would prove a very big attraction? Probably need some work, but would be worth the effort.

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      I think there are enough heritage trams in need of work at Blackpool without bringing in some random Glasgow tram! Besides, if there is barely enough money available to cover the daytime heritage tram service this summer I’m not sure where BTS will find the funds to restore it.

  2. John Henderson says:

    Glasgow 585 is not a sister car to Glasgow 22. It is more a sister car to Glasgow 812; a round dash standard that also started its career as an unvestibuled open topped tram. Glasgow 22 is a hex dash standard being built several years later, not starting its life as an open topper. The term standard for Glasgow represents a large variety of trams and their pedigree. History and evolution for both 585 and 585 is similar.

  3. Andrew says:

    The Science Museum do not want 585 restored as it will destroy its historical integrity. Thus it is likely to remain in limbo for many more years because of this decision, with any loan to an operating tramway out of the question.

  4. Frank Gradwell says:

    So the dead hand of boreacracy strikes again.

    The idea of 585 going to Blackpool is not one to be ridiculed but one to be considered as part of making the Blackpool Tramway a bigger part of the British Tourist market again. Look at the popularity of Bolton 66 before applying the modern puritanical outlook to such a suggestion.

    I would accompany that with the comment that any restoration should not fall on the reources of BTS but be resourced by other means.

    The Science Museum may be the current custodian of the vehicle. It does not make them the best – especially in times of public sector austerity and management whims.

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      I don’t think anyone has ‘ridiculed’ the idea, just stating the fact that there are obstacles in place that make running 585 at Blackpool less likely. This sort of “can’t do” attitude is fairly commonplace, a lot of TMS members certainly do it, but the idea is by no means impossible. Personally if Blackpool Transport were able to get their hands on a significant sum of money, I would rather see something more distinctively Blackpool restored – say Dreadnought 59, the Rocket or an English Electric Railcoach – but that’s just my opinion which I’m sure many people will disagree with!

  5. David Taylor says:

    Is ‘Lost Trams’ the correct title as 585 is not lost just stored. When I saw it at Wroughton it was dusty but seemed to be in good nick. It is sad that it can’t come out to play and I would like to see it running at Summerlee.

    Some of your other trams in this series are also not lost but just hibernating.

  6. Frank Gradwell says:

    Andrew – I cannot understate my admiration for Brian and what he has achieved at Blackpool since changeover on a very limited budget – but – if you have ever been to SFO and seen the parade of various nationalities and liveries of trams that serve the tourist market, then you will understand my views.

    Of course SFO is not governed by the H&S nazis who seem to make it impossible for conventional trams to use the new platforms, and uplift far more paying passengers, even though it is obvious to a myopic chimpanzee that to do so is much safer than boarding from pavement level, or that a regular heritage fleet presence can be legally separate from the normal public transport operator’s obligations.

    One day the tourist chiefs at Blackpool will wake up and then, they too may see that a chance to see historic survivors from other conurbations than Blackpool would be a worthwhile addition, and putin some funding – but that is not say that I would like to see those other Blackpool cars operational too.

    • Alan Kirkman says:

      Actually I wouldn’t say that using Heritage cars at the new platforms has a obvious POSITIVE DANGER. A 7ft 6 inch wide car at a platform for a 2.65m wide tram leaves a significant gap that some one could get their foot stuck down. Indeed I would, based on my time doing accident reports on the Cross City line in Birmingham for Central Trains, expect this to happen! We had so many incidents of people having trouble with the 323 units when they were new we had to repaint the steps yellow. So picking up on Heritage cars from the old fashioned paving is both safer and not a great risk of legal action and horrendous claims.

  7. D. A. Young says:

    Has an extended loan of car 585 to the Summerlee Museum in Motherwell, close to Glasgow, for either static display indoors (is that actually possible), or for operation, ever been suggested, one museum to another?

    The conservation v restoration argument so far as this car is concerned, has already been settled on the face of it by the Science Museum turning what was an operable but tired bus-green painted Standard of the early 1960s into the present blue-car condition of the 1930s.

    As far as I know, despite the car’s presentable external appearance, no serious work has ever been done on the structural components of the body, which I believe were not 100% sound when the car was withdrawn, and cannot be claimed to have improved since then. Does anyone know the actual situation on this?

    Putting the car into operable condition (including re-gauging) once more after fifty-plus years of disuse would be possible but pricey, given the need to observe present-day curatorial standards and ideals in addition to the more usual health & Safety etc standards. A re-wiring might also be needed and then there’s the mechanical and electrical components..

    But even if the car could me made available for the purpose, who would, could or should do it? Yet think of it, an operating Glasgow standard in the Glasgow area once more, in a scientific and technical museum devoted to the industrial life of west central Scotland! A. J. Brown would have been dead chuffed.

    D. A. Young