2018 – Thanks for the memories!

As is traditional as we approach the Christmas and New Year period we look back at the previous year to have a brief review of just what happened over the last 12 months. We’ve said it many times before that this year has been more of a slow and steady year rather than spectacular (with one or two exceptions) but that doesn’t mean that nothing has happened – far from it!

Obviously the big highlight of 2018 came on the Isle of Man with the Manx Electric Railway 125th Anniversary events during September. Eight long days of stunning spectacle greeted the many enthusiasts who made their way across to the island with most days providing another highlight. Amongst those highlights were the return to service of Ratchet Car 14, cavalcades on both the Manx Electric Railway and the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway (the latter for no reason other than why not!), Crossbench cars taking centre stage in an excellent photography evening and intensive services. It just goes to show that when there is an anniversary on a tramway the stops are always pulled out and it leaves an event that will live in the memory for a long time.

Back in England and it was a case of it ain’t broke don’t fix it as far as special events were concerned. Both Crich and Blackpool joined in the fun during September with their own main events with the usual mix of intensive services and stored trams on display. At Crich there was also the one day return of Blackpool & Fleetwood Rack 2 whilst in Blackpool both Standard 147 and Centenary 642 had returned to service earlier in the year after significant workshop attention. Blackpool would also see further entries into service at the tail end of the year with both Boat 227 and the much delayed Birkenhead 20 carrying passengers. For the Birkenhead car it was short-lived as it soon head home to the Wirral.

The cases of the “steady but not spectacular” events in Blackpool and Crich does show that for UK heritage tramways there are always going to be those fallow years when there isn’t a tram returning to service after restoration or a major tram loan. There is nothing wrong with these years and the events still remain enjoyable but there will always be those who want that something more and it is a fine balancing act to realise this and to try and provide enough to keep them coming back for me!

Away from the heritage sector and the big highlight has to be the launch of the Tram-Train service in Sheffield. Yes, its very late, yes, its well over budget and yes it seems that the motorists of Sheffield have taken against the Citylink vehicles but it is finally here and hopefully it will prove to be a success which will pave the way for more Tram-Trains in the future.

As for British Trams Online our 48th main site update of the year has just been uploaded and during that time we have included 70 Photo Galleries from across the British Isles including plenty of coverage from the Isle of Man, Dublin as well as across England and Scotland. We have also featured all the news (well most of it anyway!) throughout the year and indeed have had an update on the news pages every single day of 2018. Do we always get it right? Of course not! We try and best to provide impartial coverage and I make no apology for trying to look at the positives (there is way too much negativity out there for us to be constantly negative about what is after all just a hobby for us) most of the time. Sometimes we manage it, sometimes we don’t but we always have the best of intentions!

Of course, none of our updates would be possible without the contributors – both regular and irregular – to the site. As much as I would love to be able to cover everything tram related in the British Isles it isn’t possible so a huge thank you to everyone who sends news and photos from their local systems – without you there wouldn’t be a British Trams Online!

As we are now in the Christmas and New Year season the BTO “offices” will be closed until early 2019 but that doesn’t mean the updates end – far from it! Our three photographic series looking back at the September events will be continuing right up until 1st January and we also have a few more bits of news to come as well. You will still be able to leave comments but they are unlikely to be approved until the new year. And please do still keep sending those emails – we will just not be responding straight away!

It just leaves me to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year – see you in 2019!

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