The last few weeks have been a busy time for volunteer members of the Manchester Transport Museum Society. As well as staging an Easter event which celebrated the revival of Blackpool Vanguard 619, work has been going on behind the scenes in anticipation of a few other developments, as the MTMS look forward to a very exciting future for the Heaton Park Tramway.
The recent Easter Bank Holiday event provided many visitors with their first chance to see Manchester 173 since it moved to the park at the end of last year. Normally covered by protective sheeting, the tram was uncovered specially for this event so that it could be viewed by those who took a look around the new Lakeside depot. Although a lot of work remains outstanding before this tram can run at its new home, its arrival at Heaton Park has certainly raised its profile and with considerable interest shown in it, hopefully it won’t be too long before resources are available to complete this restoration.
Away from the park itself, volunteers recently paid a visit to Oldham 43. The derelict remains of this local car are due to be moved to Heaton Park when funding allows, but for the time being the tram has been sheeted over to protect it from any further deterioration. Having stood outside for some sixty years, moving this relic undercover will be a great achievement, although it is obvious from looking at it that the task of returning the car to running order will be huge.
Another exciting development will be the arrival of Blackpool Balloon car 702 at Heaton Park following a lengthy period of storage at the East Lancashire Railway. This tram is due to be transported to its new home on Tuesday 29th April, finally bringing to an end its time outside exposed to the elements. Anyone wishing to see its arrival is welcome to come along and welcome 702 to Heaton Park, although please be advised that you will be required to stay behind the fencing at the Middleton Road end of the tramway to ensure that the unloading of the car can progress as smoothly as possible, and that there will be no public access at the railway where the loading operation will take place. If interest is sufficient then a limited tram service may operate during the afternoon, staff permitting, once 702 has been safely unloaded and shunted out of the way.
Ahead of the new arrival, a few shunt moves took place on 27th April, when Leeds 6 was transferred to storage inside the old Middleton Road tram depot for the first time in several months, whilst Stockport 5 moved to Lakeside Depot, propelled by Blackpool 623. It will be recalled that car 5 is currently out of action following the discovery of some rot in its roof, although this will hopefully be rectified in time for it to return to service later in the year.