The Top 50 Tram Events of the Decade

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of British Trams Online, we present this rundown of fifty key tramway events which have taken place during the lifespan of this website. Naturally, different people will have their own ideas about what sort of event qualifies as being significant enough for inclusion in a list such as this one. We have prioritised any developments that have made a notable, positive impact on a tramway in the UK – such as the construction of a new extension, the restoration of a historic tram, or a brand new vehicle entering service for the first time ever. However, we have also included some of the things that make our hobby so enjoyable, such as the repainting of trams in different liveries, and some of the most memorable enthusiast events and tram tours we have experienced in recent times. We hope that readers will find this trundle down memory lane enjoyable, so sit back and relax for what should be the quickest ten year tram ride you’ve ever had!

Coronation 304 stars on Salvage Squad – 2003 (Blackpool/LTT)
Channel 4’s popular TV series ‘Salvage Squad’ provided the means to complete a major restoration of Blackpool 304, the last surviving Coronation car with its original VAMBAC equipment. The programme was first broadcast in 2003, and 304 then featured in a follow-up show in a later series the next year. The tram subsequently entered occasional service in Blackpool, operating many memorable tours, giving the chance to see two Coronation cars running together – a sight most people would never have dreamed possible just a few years earlier.

Metro Twin sets – 2003 (Blackpool)
After living in the shadows of the Balloon cars for many years, the poor condition of track north of Thornton Gate and subsequent ban on double-deckers running to Fleetwood, led to the Twin cars saving the day and being regularly allocated to Fleetwood service for the first time in their lives. 2003 saw 672+682 outshopped in a Metro Coastline bus livery, using the promenade bus colours of orange and yellow, and four more sets followed in different route colours, brightening up the promenade. Other modifications included the fitting of saloon heaters and high intensity halogen headlights, making the Twins fit for many more years of regular and reliable service.

Leeds 602 returns to service – 2003 (Crich)
After sitting idle since 1995 with roof defects, the unique royal purple Leeds railcar was commissioned for service to mark its 50th birthday and this decision proved so popular with visitors, that the tram later received further workshop attention so that it could see unrestricted use in 2005-6. 602 ran beautifully despite its long lay-off, and its triumphant year ended with it being crowned as our inaugural ‘Tram of the Year’ winner!

NET opens for business – 2004 (Nottingham)
After the usual delays associated with the creation of a wholly new light rail system, the Nottingham Express Transit line was officially opened by Alistair Darling, the Minister of State for Transport, on March 9th 2004 following extensive testing. Tram 203 earned its place in the history books by operating the first passenger journey, commencing from Phoenix Park. The tramway was an instant hit with impressive passenger loadings, so much so that extra conductors had to be recruited to ensure that all of the passengers’ fares were collected! The use of conductors on the Nottingham trams was also a welcome blast from the past, and helped to give this system a more personal touch than many other modern railed transport systems.

Seaton 9 enters service – 2004 (Seaton)
The Seaton Tramway is often overlooked compared to its bigger brothers, but on 29th May 2004, a very historic event took place when the tramway played host to the launch of the first completely new double-deck passenger tram to be built in Great Britain for 36 years. The tram in question, numbered 9, was the first of three new trams constructed at Bolton in response to the rising passenger numbers on the tourist line, which its ageing fleet were struggling to cope with. Painted in an unusual mainly cream livery, car 9 even boasted provision for wheelchair users with a low-floor centre portion, and as such was a much valued addition to the tramway’s fleet.

Restoration of Wolverhampton 49 – 2004 (Black Country)
Another tramway which often gets overlooked, that of the Black Country Living Museum, was in the news when its latest restored tramcar was unveiled during the summer of 2004. Wolverhampton 49 was running in passenger service for the first time since 1924, and looked absolutely beautiful! Although 49 originally collected its power from studs in the road surface, others of its type had used the more common overhead wires to collect power, and the tram was restored in this manner for practical reasons. Despite the large effort made to rebuild this superb tram, 49 has only ever been used very occasionally, although at least this has preserved it in excellent condition in the time it has been available for service.

English Electric 70th anniversary – 2004 (Blackpool)
Blackpool Transport marked the 70th anniversary of the English Electric streamliners with a number of historic livery repaints whilst several trams received traditional destination blinds and Corporation crests to complete the period look. September 11th saw a procession showcasing the development of the Balloon class and the other streamlined cars, whilst a depot open day was held at Rigby Road the following day. Despite poor weather the weekend was a big success and the various events attracted strong attendance figures.

Rebuild of ‘HMS Blackpool’ 736 – 2004 (Blackpool)
By 2001 all of the 1960s illuminated trams had been retired after many years of neglect, but happily this situation did not last long. The Frigate was the first to turn against the tide, being completely rebuilt during 2003-4 with a modernised interior and more extravagant exterior, including a little helicopter on its roof! The tram was launched during the English Electric anniversary events and then joined the Trawler in regular use each autumn.

Crich Enthusiast’s Day – 2004 (Crich)
Despite poor weather, this was a classic Crich event with many people’s highlight being the return to service of Blackpool ‘toastrack’ 166, which proved as popular as ever despite the dismal weather! With novelties such as Den Haag 1147 being placed at Town End, London Transport 1 spending the day on display on the siding at Wakebridge, and continental running along the street, there was plenty to entertain those who braved the rain for this superb event.

Reactivation of the Foxhall line – 2005 (Blackpool)
For many years, the historic street tramway along Princess Street and Blundell Street, once used to provide access to the depot complex, had been disused but track renewal at Manchester Square led to a change of heart over this winter. Despite the considerable age of the rails, the extensive use of this track was largely successful with very few incidents, and as well as normal service cars entering and returning to the depot, it was used for some special passenger trips by some historic trams on a special charity running day.

Restoration of Marton VAMBAC 11 – 2005 (East Anglia)
One of the most impressive tram restorations ever carried out in a UK museum, was that of Blackpool 11. Following a lengthy overhaul, the car entered service at Easter 2005, instantly becoming the East Anglia Transport Museum’s star attraction. To restore such a magnificent and complex vehicle would have been an impressive achievement for any organisation, but for a relatively small museum run entirely by volunteers, 11’s comeback was little short of miraculous!

Tramway Museum Society 50th anniversary events – 2005 (Crich)
To commemorate 50 years since the formation of its owning body, the TMS, Crich Tramway Village played host to a fantastic weekend-long event in May 2005. The biggest event of all was a cavalcade of trams along the museum street, featuring several vehicles not normally seen on the mainline, including Blackpool conduit car 4 (powered by batteries) which was operating at the museum for the very first time.

Totally Transport – 2005 (Blackpool)
The first ever ‘promenade roadshow’ saw an amazing display of classic vehicles along Blackpool’s New South Promenade. The tramway was not left out however, with a superb selection of trams out on specials, including Coronation 304 and 660 running together in normal public service for the first time in about three decades. This excellent event set the tone for more of the same over the coming years, and it quickly became a major highlight in the Fylde’s events calendar.

Crich Enthusiast’s Day – 2005 (Crich)
Although this event could easily have fallen into the shadow of the TMS 50th anniversary celebrations, any such fears would be unfounded as volunteers and staff at the National Tramway Museum put on another excellent show. This event, held on September 24th, primarily showcased Sheffield 46, Leeds 600 and Glasgow 1100 – three trams destined to head for storage at Clay Cross later in 2004. With Sheffield and Leeds cavalcades plus the rare sight of car 1100 stabled at Glory Mine, there was plenty to see all day, so much so that making time for tram rides proved to be quite challenging for visitors who didn’t want to miss any of the excitement!

Restoration of Lisbon 730 – 2006 (Birkenhead)
Although primarily focussed on preserving local trams, the Merseyside Tramway Preservation Society did a fantastic job on restoring Lisbon 730 to a superb condition, and the little Portuguese tram duly became a popular addition to the running fleet on the Birkenhead heritage line. Just two years after arriving in a derelict condition, 730 was launched into service, and became the first Lisbon tram in the world to be converted to British standard gauge. Having moved around the country several times in the preceding years, the MTPS deserved considerable praise for ensuring that this tram could enjoy a bright future and the quality and speed of work lavished upon it was certainly very impressive.

Crich Enthusiast’s Day – 2006 (Crich)
After seemingly getting bigger and better each year, the annual Enthusiast’s Day at Crich reached its peak in 2006. The usual attractions, such as a themed procession along the street and photo opportunities with various unusual trams, were all present but the vehicles chosen to feature were some of the best yet – the grand finale being Hill of Howth 10’s first daylight appearance for around 15 years! With a Scottish cavalcade, including a rare mainline appearance from Edinburgh 35, plus appearances from the stream tram loco and trailer, this was one of the all-time classic Crich events, and some years would then pass before we would see a tram-centred event of this calibre in Derbyshire again.

Wartime Brush car 623 – 2007 (Blackpool)
After a short period of storage, a shortage of serviceable single-deck trams in Blackpool led to Brush car 623 being reactivated early in 2007. By a happy coincidence, this was the 70th anniversary year for the class, and to celebrate the occasion 623 was treated to a superb repaint in wartime green and cream – arguably the most attractive version of fleet livery ever applied to these trams. Despite retaining some modern features, the style of painting suited 623 wonderfully, making it one of the most photographed trams on the prom that year, and later helping to ensure its continued survival in preservation.

Llandudno 7 goes on tour – 2007 (Various)
In what was a relatively quiet year for tramway interest in Britain, there was plenty of excitement in Wales, where the body of a former Bournemouth tram had been rebuilt to recreate a long-lost Llandudno & Colwyn Bay open-topper. As several ex-Bournemouth cars ended their days running on the coastal system, this was an appropriate choice of tram to use as the basis of the project, with the finished product being mounted on a road trailer and taken to various rallies and other events across Wales. However, arguably the tram’s finest moment came when it was transported to Birkenhead for display at the annual Wirral Tram & Bus Show: its only English appearance to date.

Restoration of Eades reversible horse tram L53 – 2008 (Heaton Park)
For many years, the Heaton Park Tramway in Manchester was largely ignored by many tram enthusiasts, being regarded as a place where very little of interest ever happened. That all changed with the launch of Manchester L53 – the only restored Eades reversible tramcar in the world, and the first double-deck horse tram to operate in preservation in the UK. L53’s launch was rightfully celebrated with a special commemorative event, which of course turned out to be the start of a period of massive development for the heritage tramway. Without the horse car’s restoration, this turn of events might never have happened and L53 certainly started the ball rolling for the tramway’s most exciting years ever.

Heritage overhaul for Balloon car 717 – 2008 (Blackpool)
In 2003, an unsung hero of the Blackpool fleet, Balloon 717, was withdrawn from use due to severe underframe defects, and faced an uncertain future. However, thanks to an incredibly generous bequest from Mr Phillip R Thorpe, a Balloon car was destined to be rebuilt to near-original condition with some modern features, and 717 was selected. The interior in particular was completed to a very standard, making 717 the most detailed Balloon car restoration to date, and after a low-key launch ceremony, 717 made its public debut at the Fleetwood Transport Festival before settling down into regular service, instantly attracting much admiration from the travelling public.

Return of Vanguard 619 – 2008 (Blackpool)
The unique replica Vanguard car 619, was one of many Blackpool trams mothballed at the end of 2004, and at one time it looked doubtful that the tram would ever run again. However, a desire to have an additional interesting tram available during the 2008 illuminations, led to the car being reactivated and it made its debut on the switch-on night, Friday 29th August. 619’s first evening of use was not without problems, but the tram soon settled back into a regular pattern of use, becoming more popular than ever. Clearly the saying ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ really does apply to trams! 619 even saw use on several cool and wet days, before moving to Heaton Park a few years later where it has also proved to be extremely popular.

A Celebration of the British Works Car – 2008 (Heaton Park)
Not content just to launch the Eades horse tram, a second, and even more ambitious event was staged by the Heaton Park Tramway close to the end of this year. This marked two significant occasions: the arrival of Blackpool railgrinder 752 at the park after it was acquired from Blackpool Transport, and the return to service of Hull 96, which had been repainted in its later guise as Leeds 6, in grey works car livery though still fitted out for carrying passengers. This was another key turning point for Heaton Park and also proved that tram events could attract a good crowd even on a frosty November day!

Restoration of the Western Train – 2009 (Blackpool)
Blackpool’s most loved tram ever, the illuminated Western Train 733+734, was reborn in 2009 following a major restoration, thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund. Almost ten years after it last carried passengers, this stunning creation was launched by actor Stephen Tompkinson and played a key role in most of the summer’s tram events, before settling down into a more regular pattern of use during the autumn illuminations. The Train also made history thanks to the addition of a wheelchair lift, making it the first fully accessible Blackpool tram ever, and looked like new thanks to the recreation of long-lost features such as its distinctive cow-catcher.

Crich 50th anniversary celebrations – 2009 (Crich)
Just four years after the TMS turned 50, Crich was hosting another important milestone; 50 years since the initial lease of the site which became the National Tramway Museum was arranged, and the arrival of the first tram at Crich, Cardiff 131. To celebrate, the Welsh water car had been fully restored to running order and was unveiled by HRH the Duke of Gloucester, after being ‘delivered’ to the depot yard by low loader. The main events day also saw another procession, featuring an incredible twenty trams, equalling the spectacular Blackpool centenary cavalcade of 1985: another unforgettable sight for all who saw it.

Manchester L53 visits Beamish – 2009 (Beamish)
L53 achieved another notable first just over a year after its launch ceremony, when it became the first ever visiting tram at Beamish Museum. It duly became the first horse-drawn tram to run in the North East for around a century, and made a wonderful sight in the 1913 Town, mingling with other historic vehicles. The success of L53’s visit paved the way for a whole host of tram loans at the museum, introducing the practice of short-term vehicle loans to the heritage tramway movement on a wide scale for the first time.

New Bombardier trams enter service – 2009 (Metrolink)
A major event in the history of Britain’s second generation tramways was the appearance of a new class of tram on the Manchester Metrolink network. Originally intended to boost capacity, mainly due to the expansion of the system, the new trams built by Bombardier have proved to be a major success ; so much so that it has since been decided to increase the order, and replace the original T68 cars which inaugurated the system in 1992. The new trams also provided the perfect excuse to give the tramway a new look, with their striking yellow and grey livery being extended to shelters, ticket machines and the like for a new uniform look.

So Long, Starr Gate – 2009 (Blackpool)
Regular users of the Blackpool tramway got a nasty shock when it was announced that the line would be closed off between Starr and Pleasure Beach just three days into the 2009 illuminations, to allow the upgrade works on this section to progress uninterrupted. At short notice, a few enthusiasts grouped together to organise a special ‘farewell’ tour to mark the last night of a traditional tram service to Starr Gate. Although Box car 40 had been requested, Standard 147 ended up taking its place and ended up in the history books as the last car to run around the old Starr Gate loop with passengers on board.

Farewell to Fleetwood – 2009 (Blackpool)
Although the Starr Gate closure almost passed by almost unnoticed, the closure of the street tramway through Fleetwood was marked with a series of special tours, featuring many trams which would never run to Fleetwood Ferry again, and others which were a rare sight in the town for many years. A memorable weekend ended with a three-car convoy of Fleetwood Box 40, Balloon 702 and Brush car 627 in the early hours of the morning; the latter having been returned to use solely for a tour due to its significance as the last tram to North Station. This also turned out to be 702’s last ever outing in Blackpool, although thankfully the possibility of a vintage tram ride to Fleetwood still exists in 2012.

Blackpool trams enter preservation – 2010 (Various)
The imminent changes in Blackpool meant that many of the old fleet were declared surplus to requirements ahead of the upgraded tramway being completed, and thankfully these trams were offered for sale to interested parties. Remarkably, all of the traditional fleet were quickly snapped up, and after some ‘one-off’ departures, the clearout really got underway during 2010. The likes of Brush car 623 and 626, Balloons 702, 703, 712 and 716 and Vanguard 619 all left for new homes this year, some just months after running in Blackpool for the final time. Although they would be missed, it was reassuring to know that many trams were going to good homes, and their presence at various museums would help to increase interest in such places as Heaton Park and Beamish.

Power from the Past event – 2010 (Beamish)
L53’s visit to Beamish seemed like a hard event to beat, but Beamish Museum rose to this challenge with a theme of ‘Corporations and Contractors’ the following year, featuring a wide range of road & rail maintenance vehicles. This included visits by Leeds 6 from the Heaton Park Tramway (which remains there today!) and Cardiff 131 from Crich Tramway Village, whilst resident Blackpool 31 was repainted in green for a very short period, to resemble its appearance during its days as an engineering car. The four-day event was a huge success and set the tone for future transport events at Beamish.

MediaCityUK extension completed – 2010 (Metrolink)
It may have been just a short extension but the spur off the Eccles line marked the start of the major expansion of Manchester Metrolink. Opening on 20th September 2010 services initially operated as part of the Eccles line but the spur has since had its own dedicated service introduced. Things didn’t exactly run smoothly though as just a day after launch a tram came off the rails causing a suspension of the service but two years down the line things have settled down nicely and the spur has established itself as a major part of the network. [GP]

Blackpool tramway 125th anniversary celebrations – 2010 (Blackpool)
The 125th anniversary of the world-famous Blackpool tramway was marked in superb style with a week packed with tram tours, social events, a depot open day and much more. Despite a few setbacks which reduced the number of preserved trams able to participate, the main events still boasted appearances from the likes of Blackpool & Fleetwood ‘Rack’ 2, Marton Box 31, Liverpool 762 and Manchester 765. These trams and other favourites from Blackpool’s own historic fleet made for an unforgettable week. Saturday 25th September in particular stands out as one of the tramway’s most memorable days ever, with an incredible turnout of trams, with the likes of Stockport 5, Marton 31 and Sheffield 513 in normal service alongside many trams which were soon to be withdrawn and sold, to make an amazing day on the tramway!

Supertram 120’s heritage makeover – 2010 (Sheffield)
The 50th anniversary of the end of Sheffield’s original tram system passed by almost unnoticed, but Stagecoach did commemorate this noteworthy anniversary by applying the stylish cream and blue livery worn by the first generation Sheffield trams in their twilight years, to one of its modern LRVs. Supertram 120 was chosen, and the result looked absolutely stunning. Originally intended as a short-term repaint, 120 proved very popular and retains its special ‘heritage’ style livery to this day.

OMO 8 returns to service – 2010 (Blackpool)
Following a surprise appearance without passengers in the Blackpool 125 parade, the LTT’s preserved OMO car 8 then operated a few more times during autumn 2010 before returning to store. This culminated in a special public tour on November 6th, which gave many enthusiasts their first chance to ride on a member of this class of car since 1993! Although the fact that car 8 did not see more extensive use was disappointing, at least the tram did manage to carry passengers and this tour duly became one of the best events of 2010.

Blackpool Day – 2010 (Heaton Park)
The Blackpool 125 celebrations came to an end in Manchester on a chilly November day, when ‘Princess Alice’ 706 made an unforgettable flying visit to Heaton Park as the star attraction of the tramway’s most ambitious event yet. Joined by resident Blackpool cars 619 and 752 as well as Marton Box 31 from Beamish, 706’s visit served to prove how far Heaton Park had progressed in the recent past and this short-term loan will probably always be remembered as one of the greatest days in the history of this tramway.

Manchester 765 visits Beamish Museum – 2011 (Beamish)
The third MTMS-owned tram to operate at Beamish was the delightful Manchester ‘Combination car’ 765, which made a detour on its way back home after spending most of 2010 in Blackpool. 765 proved very popular during the few weeks it spent at the museum, and was, for tram enthusiasts at least, the undisputed star of the Great North Steam Fair that year.

St. Werburgh’s Road extension completed – 2011 (Metrolink)
The first major opening of Manchester Metrolink’s phase 3a extensions came in July 2011 when the first section of the South Manchester Line opened as far as St Werburgh’s Road. The line leaves the Altrincham line just after the Trafford Bar stop and includes three new stops at Firswood, Chorlton and St Werburgh’s Road. At the start services ran from St Werburgh’s Road to Victoria but after the opening of the Oldham line trams were extended through to there. At the same time as the South Manchester Line opening the new depot at Trafford was officially opened. In 2013 the South Manchester Line will further extend through to East Didsbury. [GP]

Heaton Park Lakeside extension opened – 2011 (Heaton Park)
Although new extensions of modern tram systems have appeared several times over the past ten years, extensions to heritage tramways are much rarer. Therefore the short extension opened at the Heaton Park Tramway was a huge achievement for the Manchester Transport Museum Society, especially as the bulk of work was carried out by volunteers, and this made the trams much more visible to people visiting the park. The press launch of the extension saw Manchester 765 driven over the new line by music producer and talent show judge Pete Waterman, and resulted in considerable useful publicity for the tramway.

Arrival & launch of Stockport 5 at Heaton Park – 2011 (Heaton Park)
After spending more than 15 years at Blackpool, Stockport 5 finally returned to the Greater Manchester area when it moved to Heaton Park in August 2011. Just a few days later, the tram entered public service at its new home with a special event on August 28th, featuring some novel photo opportunities, some of which saw 5 posed with a visiting Stockport bus. Since its launch, car 5 has proved to be an invaluable addition to the fleet with its open top deck proving to be a people magnet, whatever the weather!

VAMBAC 11 visits Beamish Museum – 2011 (Beamish)
For many people, borrowing Blackpool VAMBAC Railcoach 11 from the East Anglia Transport Museum is the pinnacle of Beamish Museum’s tram-related achievements to date. The superbly restored tram paid a short visit to the North East for a seaside-themed transport event and ran faultlessly, delighting the many enthusiasts who flocked to Beamish to enjoy the rare treat of a really long ride on the car. This was also a great opportunity to show off what the EATM is capable of, and hopefully promoted this often underrated museum to a much wider audience. This stunning tram’s absence from the Blackpool 125 celebrations of 2010 was soon forgotten as 11 proved its star quality, going on to win the 2011 ‘Tram of the Year’ contest.

Flexity 2 launch ceremony – 2011 (Blackpool)
As the first tramway in the world to purchase Bombardier’s brand new Flexity2 tram class, Blackpool played host to the international launch of the new model which turned out to be an event the like of which the tramway had never seen before! The first of the type, 001 was driven out of the Starr Gate depot with musical accompaniment from electric string quartet Siren, and a smoke machine provided suitably dramatic effect. Invited guests from the world’s media were then treated to a ride on the new tram. This was a wonderful spotlight for the Blackpool tramway and a great way to introduce the new modern era to the seaside town.

End of the traditional Blackpool tramway – 2011 (Blackpool)
The final weekend of the 2011 season in Blackpool was always destined to be an emotional occasion, as our old friends provided the core service for the last time before the new Flexity2 trams took over. Happily, the last days were blessed with glorious sunshine which led to hordes of well-wishers lining the promenade to see and photograph some old favourites for the last time. Although several trams have since been restored to use as heritage cars, this was the end of the road for both Jubilee cars, Brush car 632 and most of the Centenary class, but it was Twin set 672+682 which stole the show with a surprise appearance on timetabled service on the final evening – after completing what had been billed as its ‘farewell’ tour!

Brush Railcoach 623 launched in preservation – 2012 (Heaton Park)
The 75th anniversary year of the Blackpool Brush cars started appropriately, with 623 becoming the first of the type to run in passenger service away from the Fylde. The tram was launched at Heaton Park by Bryan Lindop of Blackpool Transport Services, looking smart in wartime livery and with its appearance enhanced by traditional black and white destination blinds and a trolley arm.

Opening of the upgraded Blackpool tramway – 2012 (Blackpool)
After years of disruption, the £100 million Blackpool tramway upgrade was largely completed on schedule, allowing the full line from Starr Gate to Fleetwood to re-open. Unfortunately, the first public run with Flexity 006 ended in disaster with the tram derailing due to built-up sand at Fleetwood Ferry, but after some minor glitches the new trams quickly settled down into regular use and have proved to be a huge hit with locals and visitors alike. Passenger numbers have exceeded all expectations, proving that the massive investment in the system has been worthwhile.

Great North Steam Fair – 2012 (Beamish)
The first big transport event of 2012 at Beamish Museum featured a guest appearance from Birkenhead 20, which proved to be a great ambassador for the Merseyside Tramway Preservation Society and fitted in perfectly with the museum’s period atmosphere. The event also co-incided with the passenger debut of Blackpool ‘Boat’ 233 in its new home, following a repaint in 1930s style livery. Although the weather did its best to spoil the occasion, both open top trams ran successfully on all four days and proved extremely popular with the many visitors who came to enjoy them and the many other vehicles in attendance.

Brush car day – 2012 (Crich)
Hot on the heels of 623, 630 became the second Blackpool Brush Railcoach to enter service in a new home just a few months later. The tram had been smartly turned out in 1990s green, cream and black livery to suit its modernised appearance, and its launch was marked with a celebration of trams built by Brush. This included an exceptionally rare appearance in daylight from Douglas 1, another product of the Loughborough factory where 630 was built, crowning a superb day at the National Tramway Museum.

Introduction of new Variotram class – 2012 (Tramlink)
For a number of years the London Tramlink system had been suffering from a severe lack of capacity as the original fleet of Bombardier built trams was unable to cope with the number of people wanting to travel on the system. After several years of discussion and a tender process in August 2011 it was announced that Stadler had won the contract to provide six Variotrams for Tramlink. The first of the six – numbered 2554 – was delivered to the Therapia Lane Depot on Monday 9th January 2012 and after initial testing and driver training it carried passengers for the first time briefly on Friday 30th March. All six are now in Croydon and are operating in service often to be found on the Elmers End services. [GP]

Oldham Mumps extension completed – 2012 (Metrolink)
The Phase 3a extension of Manchester Metrolink to Oldham Mumps carried its first fare paying passengers on Wednesday 13th June after several delays. M5000 3004 had the honour of operating the first service from St Werburgh’s Road to Oldham Mumps (temporary). The line is due to be extended through to Rochdale in early 2013 and then in 2014 the current formation through Oldham Mumps is to be closed as a diversion through Oldham Town Centre is already being constructed. [GP]

‘Glasgow 50’ weekend event – 2012 (Crich)
Quite simply, this was the best event seen at Crich for many years, and possibly one of the best tram enthusiast events ever staged in Britain! The 50th anniversary of the Glasgow system closing was marked in spectacular style, with a line-up of five Glasgow trams showcasing the city’s different route colours. This included Paisley 68, freshly outshopped as Glasgow 1068 in orange, blue and cream, and Glasgow ‘Coronation’ 1282 which was returned to service for just two days after a long lay-off. With Glasgow 1115 also extracted from the Exhibition Hall and many other unusual photo opportunities, this event was truly the TMS at the height of its power!

Coronation 304 at Beamish – 2012 (Beamish)
It’s highly appropriate that the tram which featured in the first of our 50 highlights of the decade also dominates the most recent event! After being evicted from Rigby Road depot, the chances of Blackpool Coronation 304 running again in the short-term appeared slim, but Beamish Museum stepped in to arrange a short-term loan of the car, which duly operated in service there for just over a month. The impressive sight of the massive tram in the Beamish town was one that will not be forgotten in a hurry, and the experience of a ride around the tramway circuit aboard such a powerful tram was also a very memorable way to conclude the first decade of British Trams Online’s existence.

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