Wednesday 26th March 2014 will go down as a landmark date in history for the Merseyside Tramway Preservation Society, as for the first time, Liverpool 245 emerged into the open air under its own power to be photographed in the sunshine for the first time since arriving at Birkenhead. The tram has of course been the subject of an extremely thorough rebuild, largely undertaken by MTPS volunteers, and financed by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
For many years, the Liverpool Museums group – who retain ownership of 245 – had expressed reluctance to see the tram restored to running order as they wished to preserve it in the condition it last ran. However, a realisation that its condition was deteriorating at a quite alarming rate, coupled with the impressive restoration work undertaken by staff and volunteers at the Birkenhead heritage tramway, led to the Liverpool streamliner being placed in their care. Restoring this derelict tramcar to its former glory has been a massive challenge, but one that has now been achieeved successfully, resulting in an absolutely stunning operational tramcar.
Having initially been run up and down the pit in the Taylor Street depot/workshop, where its restoration has been carried out, and following completion of all the transfers – including fleet numbers, legal lettering, Liverpool Corporation crests and lettering on the used ticket boxes – 245 was finally driven outside on 26th March. The car was then taken out for some test runs, and the opportunity was also taken to pose it with the MTPS’ other restored Liverpool tram, 762 giving the opportunity to see two Liverpool cars in contrasting liveries together at last.
Unfortunately the initial test running highlighted a minor mechanical issue which will require rectification before 245 can enter public service at Birkenhead, which is likely to delay its launch. However, the wait for this magnificent tram to carry its first passengers since 1957 should be well worth it, although the MTPS have wisely refrained from announcing when it will enter service until they are more confident of a date which can be met. In the meantime, our thanks go to MTPS member John Hewitt who has very kindly kept us updated on the final stages of the tram’s restoration, and was once again on hand to capture these historic images. A video clip of the tram running can also be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyqCQWf7oJw&feature=youtu.be