News | Fleet Lists | Gallery | Articles | Tram Profiles | Restoration | Tram of the Year | Diary of Events | Links | Site Updates | About the Site | Email

Last Updated Sunday 22nd November 2009

Tram of the Year 2008: The Result

After several weeks of voting the British Trams Online Tram of the Year 2008 can be revealed as Blackpool Balloon 717. The tram beat off the challenge of Manchester Eades Reversible Horse Tram L53 and Blackpool Replica Vanguard 619. In truth 717 was always in the lead and over the weeks has managed to stretch into the final lead with over half of those who voted going for the Balloon which was restored to near original condition, returning to service in July 2008.

Special credit must go to our runner up - L53 - a long standing restoration project and unique in being the only Eades Reversible horse tram in the UK. The tram is housed at the Heaton Park Tramway - an upcoming tram centre which is well worth a visit (services operate on winter Sunday afternoon's using Leeds 6).

Thanks to everyone who voted - now start to think about what can go for the British Trams Online Tram of the Year 2009!!!

Current Results

British Trams Online Tram of the Year 2008

Blackpool Replica Vanguard 619 13%22
Blackpool Balloon 717 52%91
Manchester Eades Reversible Horse Tram L53 35%61
174 votes total

Tram of the Year 2008: The Shortlisted Trams

The three trams shortlisted for the British Trams Online Tram of the Year 2008 have now been selected and brief details are given below as to why they have been added to the shortlist. Thanks to all those who nominated trams this year and apologies if your chosen trams hasn't made it.

Blackpool Replica Vanguard 619

Why is it nominated? A return to service in Blackpool after four years "mothballed"

Blackpool Replica Vanguard 619 made a shock return to service in time for the 2008 Illumination season in the resort after a need was seen for some more appropriate trams for illumination tours. The tram had last run during the 2004 season when, like so many other trams, it was "mothballed" with Blackpool Transport seeing the need for less trams due to changes in the operation of the tramway. In August Blackpool Transport shocked many people when they announced that 619 was to be prepared for a return to service in time for the Illuminations to help the two Illuminated trams with the nightly tours from North Pier. Although the tram failed several times on its first night of duty it soon settled into a regular pattern of service and even ran in slightly dodgy. The tram may not be universally popular with enthusiasts because of its "fake" nature but it certainly turns heads on the Blackpool Prom and deserves the chance to compete for Tram of the Year 2008. The tram is due to move to the Heaton Park Tramway for 2010.

Blackpool Balloon 717

Why is it nominated? Return to service in Blackpool after major "heritage" overhaul

Blackpool Balloon 717 was a very popular nomination and was probably always going to be on this year's shortlist. The tram last run in the resort in 2003 when it was withdrawn (along with some classmates) before the major cull a year later. It was suffering with serious underframe defects which would require the tram to have a major overhaul and so it had to wait five years before it could return to service. If it hadn't have been for a Philip R Thorpe when the tram came to its turn for overhaul it would have had one similar in style to 713. But Mr Thorpe's will bequeathed a six figure sum to restore a Blackpool Balloon car to near original condition and 717 was the lucky tram chosen. The result has some modern safety features (the front bumper being the most obvious) and although the tram was originally fitted with a trolley, a pantograph is now fitted. 717 ran its first passenger journeys on 20th July 2008 (at Fleetwood Tram Sunday) having undergone a Private Hire for Blackpool Transport Board members a couple of days previously. The tram soon settled into a regular service pattern on the Fleetwood circuit. The tram should have a fairly secure future when the tramway upgrade is undertaken, thanks to this work.

Manchester Eades Reversible Horse Tram L53

Why is it nominated? Into service after long standing restoration and the only Eades Reversible Horse Tram in service in the world!

Like 717 the inclusion of Manchester Eades Reversible Horse Tram L53 on this year's shortlist was always pretty much guaranteed. The tram returned to operational condition after a restoration which can be traced back nearly 40 years (the tram having been originally discovered back in 1970). It was originally commenced as a A-level woodwork project by Manchester Transport Museum Society member Geoff Senior and was then eventually continued from 1996 in Salford before moving to its current home of the Heaton Park Tramway in 1998. From here the restoration was concluded over the next 10 years before it was launched to the public on Sunday 30th March at a special event, including Murdock the horse from Bradford. As if the fact that a near 40 year restoration has been completed and a return to service has been achieved is not enough there is another good reason why L53 (incidentally the L in the number stands for its original home depot - Longsight) has been shortlisted. L53 is the only known fully intact Eades Reversible Horse Tramcar in the world. But what is so special about a Eades Reversible tram? (Apart from the fact it is a bit of a mouthful?!?) Well, this allows the main body to revolve on its underframe, taking away the need for the horse to be detached from one end of the tram and attached to the other when the tram reaches the end of the line. Another advantage is that only one staircase is required and a shorter driver's platform is required. L53 is likely to see use again at special events throughout 2009 at the Heaton Park Tramway.

As well as the three shortlisted trams several others were nominated and/or considered. These included Blackpool Balloon 700, Blackpool Illuminated Western Train 733+734, Blackpool Railgrinder 752, Glasgow 1017, Leeds 6 and Wallasey 78

British Trams Online is an enthusiast run website for enthusiasts. It should be able to be viewed at all screen resolutions but I do advise you that it is probably best at 1024x768. The site is owned, maintained (and in the main written) by Gareth Prior. Any comments or suggestions please email.