London trams get stripped

Despite the temporary departure of London County Council 1 from Crich Tramway Village to receive specialist repairs to its body frame by a specialist firm, the sight of a heavily stripped London tramcar in the museum’s workshop remains with the recently acquired North Metropolitan horse car now being dismantled. Having only arrived at Crich on Saturday 21st May no time was wasted in its deconstruction and within a few days it was barely recognisable!

Having languished in a field at Ilkeston for some 110 years, the horse tram is understandably in a very poor condition and therefore it would seem that it will be reduced to kit form, which will occupy less storage space than retaining it complete. As mentioned before, the roof structure is probably in the best condition and is being retained, but the rest of the bodywork has already been dismantled and much of it will presumably be disposed of as it suffered from severe body rot and woodworm. Indeed, one corner frame of the tram had started to collapse in transit, highlighting the fragility of its condition. The remains are expected to join sister car 184 which is stored at Clay Cross in flat packed condition, with parts of the two likely to be combined at some point in the future to recreate a typical London horse tram.

Meanwhile, away from the museum, LCC 1 remains under attention at Garmendale’s workshop. Despite barely resembling a tram when it left Crich, it has been further stripped with the lower deck side panels and more of the body frame now removed. The top rail has been removed entirely, as part of it had actually broken off during its short road journey! Oddly, the crest on one side (uncovered painstakingly by workshop staff after many hours of determined paint stripping!) was covered up to protect it, even though this panel has since been removed. It is not known what will happen to this panel but presumably it will be preserved as a historic artifact.

Once again, the level of corrosion found on LCC 1 is pretty dreadful and shows just how extensive the restoration process will be. Indeed, the condition of these two London trams suggests that when they are returned to an operable condition, it is likely that they will be anything more than glorified replicas, as so little original material is suitable to be retained on a vehicle that will need to be passed as fit to carry passengers.

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7 Responses to London trams get stripped

  1. Peter Whiteley says:

    (re LCC1) Actually most of the body frame was in a fair condition and will be re-used. The areas of corrosion (that require replacement steel) are the top rails, some of the end framework, the side panels and some of the horizontal framwork below the corner windows. The rest of the steelwork can be treated and kept. The upper deck window frames were cast aluminium and most of the end windows have fractures. This occured within a few weeks of its launch in London and required the LCC to fit additional steelwork arround the inside of the end windows to stop them disintegrating. The lower saloon ceiling / upper deck floor is in excelent condition and requires no work, same for the top-deck roof.
    All the internal fittings paneling etc has been removed and will be reinstated. The trucks and controllers only required refurbishment. The wiring was a complete mess (several fires) as was the air system. I would estimate that 60-80% will be original (from 1959). This is my personal.

    • Phill says:

      Regards the lower deck ceiling/upper deck floor. When the saloon ceiling panels were removed, the woodwork above still has the chalk writing from when it was built. This area has not been dismantled, and will be left as is. So it will still have some parts that have never been taken apart since it was built.

  2. Raymond Luxury-Yacht says:

    I believe the North Met horse car was on a farm near Newtown, Powys, rather than Ilkeston.

  3. Phill says:

    The horse car was found in Wales, not Ilkeston. Ilkeston is where LCC 1 is.

    Regards loss of material, LCC 1 will be pretty original as far as restorations go. Horse trams, less so.

  4. Nigel Pennick says:

    “Glorified Replicas” – many preserved vehicles, from cars to railway locomotives, have undergone replacement of most if not all of their parts during their operational life and in restoration. No Victorian locomotive in action now has an original boiler. It was asked at a railway museum conference in the 1980s how much of the Flying Scotsman was original, and the answer came – “none of it”. Near-replicas are the norm in preservation.

  5. Peter Whiteley says:

    I would agree that LUT159 contains a lot of new material, I would say significantly less than 20% of this tram is original. A lot depends on what you’ve got to start with and attempt to use as much as you can in the restoration, 159 is a wonderful piece of work and fills a gap in the museum, it would have been be a shame not to re-build it, it helps to use traditional construction methods to maintain the character of the tram rather a true replica which would use modern materials and methods.

    • Nigel Pennick says:

      They can always number a replica as the next one in the series, like the A1 locomotive ‘Tornado’ was.

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