Thursday 27th August was an auspicious day for the Southampton Tram Project as their three trams moved across the city to a new home at the Solent Sky Museum – a permanent home for the group which it is hoped will enable work on the restoration of the trams to continue to make smooth progress.
The three trams – Southampton cars 11 and 38 and Lisbon 715 – had been stored in a building in Southampton Docks for the past nine years but with the continued development of this area as more and more Cruise ships come into the city (or at least they did until March!) the Southampton Tram Project were asked to vacate the area. A new home was found at the Solent Sky Museum and the original plan had been that the trams would be moved by Easter. But as we all know now world events rather intervened which delayed the construction of a new building at Solent Sky and the move of the trams.
The low loaders were booked for Thursday 27th August and the three trams were transported to their new home on this day. 11 even had a temporary destination applied to the destination boxes – “Solent Sky”. The new building is slightly smaller than the structure the trams have moved from but will not need to be shared with other transport (a boat could also be found in the building at the Docks) and should provide ample space for the restoration work to continue.
Of the two Southampton cars, 11 is the more advanced restoration with the domed roof car seeing significant progress in recent years. 38 remains a more long-term aspiration remaining an unrestored body whilst Lisbon 715 was originally purchased for parts but has been retained in full due to the good quality of the tram
The Solent Sky Museum was originally conceived as an aviation museum covering the history of flight in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight but is now expanding to look at other areas of the heritage of Southampton and that is where the trams will come in. No details have been announced of how the trams will be displayed for the public but for now they have a new permanent and secure home which should give more access to the general public on a more regular basis in the long-term.