A Boat, a Balloon and some bogies at Beamish!

The developments keep coming thick and fast at Beamish, the Living Museum of the
North and as has become customary, we are able to provide another update on some of the latest news involving the Museum’s tram fleet, with particular emphasis on the two ex-Blackpool cars on loan from the Lancastrian Transport Trust. A shunt around at the tram depot has seen Blackpool ‘Boat’ 233 moved into the lean-to shed alongside the main depot building, whilst Blackpool Balloon 703/Sunderland 101 is temporarily stored on track 4.

Boat car 233 (or 605 if you prefer) was transferred to the lean-to building on Wednesday 14th March, as most work on the Beamish tram fleet is carried out there. The following day a team of volunteers started the task of rubbing down the bodywork in
preparation for a full repaint. Other recent work has seen the tram fitted with overhauled circuit breakers, and attention to the wiring which is thought to be original. The flooring at one end is also being strengthened. The shot-blasted trolley tower has also been returned looking as good as new, and is currently stored waiting to be painted and refitted to the tram. It is still hoped to have 233 ready for service in time for next month’s Great North Steam Fair, with an official launch due to follow a week later, but with a lot of work still to complete the deadline will probably be a tight one to meet.

233‘s move has meant that another tram has had to be moved across to depot track 4, which is not yet equipped with overhead wire and is therefore being used as a ‘dead’ track for cars that are out of service. This is now occupied by Sunderland 101, the ex-Blackpool Balloon car which has been one of the mainstays of the winter tram service at Beamish. As a result of this intensive use, the car would now benefit from some further attention, and is being laid-up so that some of the other trams in the running fleet can be used more instead as better weather arrives, although it is still operational. Hopefully moving 101 will encourage tram crews to take out open cars in appropriate weather, whilst also ensuring that 101 is not over-exerted; but rumours of the car’s withdrawal are thankfully untrue.

When the news regarding 101 first broke, there was a lot of confusion and some enthusiasts were concerned that they had missed out on the chance to ride on this car at Beamish. To set the record straight, British Trams Online contacted Beamish Museum’s Keeper of Transport Paul Jarman, who was happy to clarify the situation. Mr Jarman has informed us that it is planned that 101 will be used at the Great North Steam Fair in April, when it should be an added attraction for visitors as well as an excellent people-mover for what is usually an extremely busy four day event. 101‘s main intended purpose in its current home is for use on peak days and for special evening events etc. and so it will probably not see much use over the coming months – but having it available gives the Museum another useful tram at its disposal when they need it.

Finally, regular readers of this website may have seen the news that Beamish Museum had
recently acquired a set of old bogies from the National Railway Museum. These were originally suspected to be of Grimsby & Immingham origin, but further research has proven this theory to be false. In fact they are believed to be from the Glasgow subway – and it is now most likely that some parts from them may be used for other projects.

Our thanks go to Paul Jarman for his assistance in compiling this news report.

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