The construction of the new Lakeside Depot at Manchester’s Heaton Park Tramway is now at a very advanced stage, with the ground inside the new structure being levelled out earlier this week in readiness for the laying of the first rails within. The ground from the current Lakeside terminus to the building has also been moved, creating a gentle slope for the trams to move up and down, whilst the adjacent area is also being cleared of potentially problematic tree branches.
With the vast majority of work on depot structure now complete, volunteers can now start to assist with moving the project forwards. The next month will hopefully see the required overhead poles, track and sleepers put in position, and this is where supporters of the tramway can help by getting involved. Every Saturday and Sunday from now until at least the end of October, there will be a work party who will be carrying out these essential tasks. It will be necessary to lay approximately 80 metres of track in order to allow trams to be moved into the new depot, and the Manchester Transport Museum Society hope to achieve this in time for the upcoming Autumn Gala event. This would potentially allow more trams to be housed undercover and made operational in time for the tramway’s biggest event of the year, but this will only happen if the trackwork progresses at a fairly swift rate.
The next few weekends will hopefully see the depot track fan take shape, although in the event of wet weather then focus to switch to laying the rails inside the depot itself. It is hoped to extend the right hand spur track at Lakeside over the coming weekend (28th & 29th September), ahead of an anticipated delivery of lightweight sleepers on Tuesday 1st October. The bull-head rails currently stored at the old Lakeside terminus will then be moved to the work site in readiness for laying in place.
Anyone who is a member of the Manchester Transport Museum Society is invited to come along and help to complete this most exciting project. Supporters wishing to get practically involved are encouraged to bring steel toe-capped shoes and gloves; a hi-viz jacket is also essential although these can be provided. However, even if you don’t have any appropriate clothing or you are not particularly skilled, there are a wide variety of jobs that need to be done and so all are welcome. The MTMS even provide tea and coffee to its workforce!
The recent announcement that ex-Blackpool Vanguard 7/619 will hopefully be commissioned for service at the Autumn Gala day shows what can happen if the work runs to schedule, so it is hoped that as many volunteers as possible to come to help complete what is surely the most exciting project to be undertaken at the park since the heritage tramway first opened, more than three decades ago.