The tram with an identity crisis

Ex-Blackpool Replica Vanguard 619 has beem known as Heaton Park 7 since adopting a new red and white livery in 2011, at Manchester’s Heaton Park Tramway. However, the tram is now set to be renumbered yet again, when it reverts to its previous number of 619 when it receives remedial workshop attention next year, ahead of a return to regular use.

When first constructed using the remnants of OMO car 7, the Vanguard was numbered 619 as a nod to its former identity as English Electric Railcoach 619. After entering preservation, the car became number 7 again as it was the seventh electric tramcar to operate on the Heaton Park heritage line. For the past two years the tram has been living outside with its open sides and the driver’s windscreens protected by wooden boarding, the latter being easily moved to assist with shunting. Once the new depot is completed at the park, the car will be able to move back undercover and can then be returned to a more respectable condition. At the same time, it has been decided that it will regain the number 619 which is considered to be more appropriate to its current guise, although it is not expected to be repainted again and will therefore remain in red.

Although this work is unlikely to be tackled until next year, it is planned for the car to enjoy one final day in service as number 7 at the tramway’s Autumn Gala on Sunday 17th November, subject to its availability on the day. This is subject to the Lakeside Depot being sufficiently complete to accommodate the tram, as understandably its owners do not want to expose an open-sided vehicle to the harsh Manchester climate! As a result of its spell in outside storage, the tram’s appearance will be less than pristine on this occasion, and a collection box will be prominently positioned on board the car for passengers to contribute towards its restoration to an immaculate condition. However, all being well this one-off appearance from 7 should provide a novel experience for visitors to this event, and will hopefully encourage more enthusiasts to come and ride on the tram, which hasn’t carried fare-paying passengers since 2011.


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