The main tram depot, workshop and museum at Birkenhead – the Taylor Street site – is set to be closed to visitors for several months to allow for a major refurbishment to take place. This has been some time in the planning, and will create a much improved visitor attraction highlighting the value of the tramway and associated activities within the local area.
After this year’s Santa Specials on the tramway, which are running on Saturdays 9th & 16th December, the museum and tramway will be closed for the rest of the year to enable work to get started. During January and February it is expected that a tram service will operate just once a week, with services resuming on both Saturdays and Sundays from March. There will be no access to the general public to the museum at Taylor Street until at least May, when the work is expected to be completed.
The work will create a greatly improved attraction with lifts installed to provide full disabled access throughout the building, as well as brand new toilets, a gift shop and cafe. There will be greatly improved viewing of many exhibits via a number of walkways with energy efficient lighting also to be installed. A new entrance area will see visitors come into the building through what are currently the grey shutters to the right of the tram storage area. From there, they will pass through the original Mersey Ferry toll booths before being greeted by the sight of the oldest surviving double-deck tram in the UK; horse car Birkenhead 7. It may be remembered that this tram was recently extracted from storage. Some reassembly of its top deck has already been undertaken although further cosmetic work, including a full repaint, is needed to make it suitable for display in its new home.
Naturally there will be some inconvenience during the five months that this ambitious project is due to be carried out within – notably, the popular ‘Night at the Museum’ event has had to be moved from its usual date in February, to a new date which will be confirmed later in 2018. However, it all should be well worth it and hopefully this investment will be a massive boost to the Birkenhead tramway as well as the area’s tourism!