Some slightly disappointing news comes from the Heaton Park Tramway, where delays to the completion of restoration work on Hull 96 has forced the Manchester Transport Museum Society to postpone its planned return to use. A special launch day had been planned for 28th June, but it is now felt that this is an unrealistic target and therefore a revised date of Sunday 11th October has been decided on.
Although work on 96 has progressed well over the winter months, there is still a lot to be done and a number of discoveries have been made during the overhaul process, resulting in the work being done becoming far more extensive than was originally intended. For example, the discovery of serious rot in a bumper has meant that this has had to be replaced. The MTMS are determined that 96 will be in fantastic condition for many years to come, which means that cutting corners now is not a realistic option. As is so often the case with projects of this nature involving old vehicles, the more jobs are done, the more jobs are discovered that need doing! Current tasks include resealing of the roof, which had suffered badly from water ingress during a period of outside storage which resulted from the unfortunate delays to the construction of the tramway’s second depot, as well as re-fitting the saloon windows and cleaning of the underframe. Looking ahead, and a company known as Heritage Painting have been contracted to undertake a professional repaint of the tram to ensure that it will appear absolutely pristine when it finally does return to service. Once volunteers have created a suitably smooth surface and applied undercoating, the firm will apply the top coats and also varnish the car and add the decorative lining-out, which will differ from that worn previously as paint stripping has given the MTMS a much clearer picture of the finer details of the car’s original livery.
It is obviously a shame that Hull 96 will not be ready for its intended launch date, particularly as this would have co-incided with the anniversary of the closure of the Hull tram system, but the end result should certainly be worth waiting for and October 11th should be a date worth celebrating!