The future of Burton & Ashby 14 has been thrown into some doubt, following the surprising revelation that this unique open top tramcar is being offered for sale as part of a large auction after being deemed surplus to requirements by its present owners. The tram was exported to America many years ago and for a while it delighted visitors to a tourist line in Detroit, but has since languished in storage for some time after this tramway closed down a decade ago.
Car 14 has not run since its home tramway was closed and with no clear role for it being identified in the meantime, it has been decided to place the tram up for auction along with a wide range of other items from the same city. The sale is described as ‘a monumental reorganizational offering of the city of Detroit vehicles, machinery and shop service equipment’. Rather than sell the tram individually, it has appeared as part of a mixed lot – one of two being offered by Hilco Industrial. The lot includes two other historic trams; an enclosed trolley car from Detroit, and an open air trolley car from Houston, along with numerous other oddities such as cranes, diggers, dump trucks and pick-up trucks. One dreads to think what such a motley collection could be worth in financial terms, although the Burton & Ashby tram may well be the most valuable item of all as it is the only survivor of this long-lost British system.
Viewing of the various objects included in the auction is available on 3rd & 4th November, with the auction itself being held on 5th November. There will be a webcast of the actual auction and bidders are able to attend and try their luck at purchasing some unique items! It is sincerely hoped that, if 14 ends up being sold to a new owner who is not particularly interested in it, that they will be open to passing it on to a more suitable home. The ideal outcome would of course be to return it to British soil, but as it is a 3 foot gauge vehicle it would be unable to operate anywhere in this country, making any rescue mission a less appealing prospect.