The major restoration of London County Council 1, the tram popularly known as ‘Bluebird’, may not have started yet – but that has not deterred its sponsors from revealing a target date for its return to service. The London County Council Tramways Trust are funding the tram’s reconstruction in the workshops at Crich Tramway Village, and aiming to have the work completed in time for a special anniversary in 2018.
It was on 15th May 1938 that the newly formed Light Railway Transport League held a special charter from Waltham Cross to Purley, using LCC 1. With the car due to enter the Crich workshop imminently, it is hoped to have it fully operational in time to mark the 80th anniversary of this event, in May 2018. This would allow four years to completely rebuild the tramcar, which is comparable to other major projects undertaken at Crich over the years. However, ‘Bluebird’ is likely to present one of the museum’s biggest challenges to date and although a significant sum of money is already available for its rebuild, it is estimated that a further £150,000 will be needed to finish the job, and the LCCTT are appealing for supporters to donate whatever they can to assist with this aim. The mix of wood and steel used in the construction of the body structure will make rebuilding this car a huge challenge, as will the more intricate details of its ‘Art Deco’ style interior. Little is known about how this tram was constructed so it will literally be a case of learning more about the tram by taking it apart! The fact that LCC 1 is completely unique does not help matters, although of course it influenced the design of various other trams and is therefore highly regarded by many.
Meanwhile, the debate on whether car 1 should be restored at all, or preserved as a historical artefact which has barely been touched since entering preservation, goes on with a letter on this subject published in the latest edition of the Tramway Museum Society Journal. This has generated a lengthy response from representatives of both the TMS and the LCCTT, explaining the need to carry out some work on the tram before its condition deteriorates to the point where its longevity is in serious jeopardy. It is also explained that the primary aim of the TMS is to showcase historic trams as they would have been in their heyday, and to allow the public to experience these trams doing the job they were built to do. However, the process of dismantling and then rebuilding ‘Bluebird’ will be carefully recorded in detail, and it is intended to retain various parts of the original car which cannot be re-used in the restoration for conservation and possible future display. Hopefully this will satisfy the desires of those who have expressed concern at the thought of the tram’s originality being lost, whilst also putting out a good message about the role the museum has to play in preserving Britain’s tramway history.