Liverpool 245 launch date confirmed for July

The long-awaited launch into passenger service of the newly restored Liverpool ‘Baby Grand’ 245 at the Birkenhead heritage tramway will take place on Saturday 19th July, with special commemorative tickets being sold for the tram’s historic inaugural run. It had previously been hoped that 245 would be launched earlier in the year, but a few unforseen delays have meant that enthusiasts have had to wait a little longer than expected to ride on this particular tram for the first time since 1957, although the wait should of course be extremely worthwhile!

On 19th July, 245 is scheduled to operate its first ever journey in passenger service at Birkenhead, departing from Taylor Street depot at 1:00pm. This historic journey will only be accessible to pre-paid ticket holders, with special souvenir tickets for the inagural run available from the Merseyside Tramway Preservation Society priced at £10 each (which includes light refreshments at the tram depot after the first trip). Understandably, MTPS members are being given the first chance to purchase these tickets, with any remaining unsold tickets then being made available to the wider public from July 1st. For those who wish to be part of this special day, 245 will enter normal service after the inagural run with return journeys priced at £5.

Although the first day of passenger use for Liverpool 245 in preservation should be incentive enough for many people to visit Birkenhead, it is also hoped that some historic Liverpool buses will be in attendance on this day, whilst the museum’s tower wagon should also be on display. Fellow Liverpool tramcar 762 is expected to be in service throughout the day, whilst a brass band will follow 245 on its first run aboard the open top deck of Birkenhead 20, meaning that three superbly restored MTPS trams will be operated on the same day.

It had been hoped that 245 would be approved for passenger service earlier this month, but unfortunately initial test runs revealed that all was not well with the car’s tyres, with a loud noise indicating some severe wheel flats. These had not been tackled during the restoration process as they appeared to be in excellent condition, but the desire to ensure that 245 looks and sounds its best for its big day in the limelight meant that the decision was taken to lift the tram from its truck again, and the wheelsets were duly despatched to a contract firm in Derbyshire. Return is anticipated at the end of this month, and once reassembled, more extensive testing can get underway.

The only downside of the date chosen for this momentous event is that it falls on the same weekend as the annual Festival of Model Tramways, held this year at the Greater Manchester Museum of Transport. Whilst the MTPS have suggested that anyone who is interested in model trams as well as real ones attends this show on Sunday 20th July instead, this date also sees heritage Blackpool trams operating for the Fleetwood Festival of Transport, AKA Tram Sunday. This will certainly be a very exciting weekend for tram lovers in the North West, and hopefully 245‘s long awaited public debut will receive the support it deserves, as a reward for the hard work that the MTPS have invested in returning this long-neglected tram into a stunning operational vehicle.

The stunning restoration work carried out on Liverpool 245 can be seen in this view of the tram on an early test run at the Pacific Road end of the Birkenhead tramway. (Photo by John Hewitt)


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9 Responses to Liverpool 245 launch date confirmed for July

  1. Paul D says:

    Pleased that 245 is close to running but very dissapointed at the choice of date. Why do British tramway groups keep doing this to us? There is a small enough market as it is without unnecessary clashing of events splitting the audience. Unless the date was force by other local factors, to clash with one event is unfortunate; to select a weekend when there are already two major events does seem a very strange decision especially as the weekend after is free of any significant tramway events.

    Simple co-operation and co-ordination would I’m sure increase attendance at all events…

    • Daniel says:

      There aren’t an awful lot of days to choose from if I am honest. Bank holidays and school holidays are when heritage railways and tramways all have their big occasions because families tend to have days out then too. It’s inconvenient from an enthusiasts point of view but every organisation has no doubt calculated when the best opportunity for them to have an event is.

    • David Taylor says:

      The event was forced upon us by the owners of the tram.
      When the May unveiling was cancelled due to flat tyres that had to be sent to Derbyshire for turning the alternative date of June was vetoed by the National Museums Merseyside as they were attending other functions. The July date was set by them and I have no complaints with their choice even though I will be out of the country at the time.

      As owners of the tram I am grateful that they have allowed us to restore the Baby Grand and will allow us to operate it on their behalf rather than let it collect more dust in a warehouse or be damaged further as it was when on loan to Steamport who left in a very poor condition.

      As a matter of choice may I suggest this should be Priority as it is a one off recreation of the last tram Parade whereas the other two are annual events.

  2. Chris Callan says:

    From the Festival of Model Tramways point of view far from ideal. Like others have pointed out the hope was people would attend Festival on Saturday then many would head to Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours for the Sunday. Clearly a third event on the Saturday means some will visit 245 then head to Blackpool missing out on the Festival & Heaton Park Tramway Event. But accept the Summer Holidays Weekends are at a premium so clashes in lots of hobbies are quite common.

    Blackpool are the real winners in this. Means more people will be in the area so may well attend Fleetwood Festival of Transport. The problem lies on the Saturday. Where the festival may well see drastically reduced numbers through what on the face of it is no fault of their own.

    But to balance (and not necessarily a view i subscribe to) would point out the Festival of Model Trams a date which can and should have been changed has clashed year after year with Tram Sunday which is naturally a fixed date.

  3. David Taylor says:

    I have just noticed the caption on the Photograph above. The location is Taylor street and not Pacific Road.

    A an update the axles have been returned and fitted to the chassis. hopefully the chassis will be slid under the body and bolted on next week so if you want to see the parts separated then this week-end is your last chance. Come and support us and have a ride on the tramway.

  4. Sandgrounder says:

    As someone who was involved at Steamport when 245 was on display there I feel that I should nail the myth that appreciable damage was caused by avoidable neglect to the tram. All parties involved were well aware that an old locomotive shed with a leaky roof was not an ideal environment to house trams, buses and the other road vehicles. It was accepted on the basis that Steamport offered a home to the tram where it could be seen by the public, rather than stored in Edge Lane Works with no likelihood of an alternative display site on Merseyside. 245 arrived with a 2 page long list of known faults. Once inspected in the shed, a further page and a half list of visible defects was added. The Museum authorities were happy with the arrangement, knowing that the car would need a complete rebuild anyway should it ever be restored to use. It is important to remember that in those days there was no prospect of that happening.

    Steamport did what little it could, given the condition of the roof and lack of finance to repair it. Of course, it would have been better had the tram come with a pot of money to repair a section of shed roof, but that was not available. Whilst Merseyside County Museums had a duty of care to their assets, they also had a responsibility to the public to allow them to view those assets. Many thousands of visitors were able to see 245 as a result of Steamport’s hospitality. Any further deterioration in the condition of what was acknowledged as a very worn out car has to be balanced against the benefit gained of several years of public display.

    • David Taylor says:

      I am sorry I did not see your reply sooner but I must take issue with your comments.
      the tram was not looked after and on the two occasions I visited it was in a poor state which could have been helped if a tarpaulin was put over the roof. the water ingress caused the ceiling to collapse and water got into the woodwork causing dry rot. I never saw the tram clean during my visits which was sad.

      Should any readers have doubt about the condition of the tram please go to and access the archives where you will see the extent of the damage both internal and external.

      The tram is now in a safe place and hopefully for those members who have spent many hours over the years will remain so.

      While there is still a mechanical problem I see no reason why the tram should not perform well. I was a passenger on the first runs out in the yard followed by a longer run to the collage..Last week we had a run to pacific road where the brake problem was diagnose and It will do a loading test soon and hopefully be fit for the handover.

      • Sandgrounder says:

        Firstly, let me say that I am pleased that the tram is now almost completely restored. I can only restate the fact that 245 was looked after at Steamport to the extent that it was securely housed in a place where the public could have access to it, which were the priorities as far as the owners were concerned. No one would deny the fact that the condition of the car deteriorated whilst at Steamport. It was, after all, an old steam locomotive shed with a leaky roof. That was clear to all involved before arrangements were made to move it when it had to leave Edge Lane Works.
        The resources at Steamport, both in terms of finance and personnel were severely stretched, but the car was regularly swept out or vacuumed and received a soap wash a couple of times a year. Further assistance would have been welcomed, be it from Merseyside County Museums, new volunteers, Sefton Council or other bodies, but none was forthcoming. Roof repair enthusiasts are rare birds. Previous attempts to affix tarpaulins proved inadequate to cope with high winds. More lasting remedies were way beyond the financial resources available. The Museum authority was happy enough with the arrangement to place further large exhibits on loan to Steamport but it has to be admitted that Land Transport was not high up their list of priorities. 245 could easily have ended up stored in the open, a possible target for vandals and arsonists, had Steamport not offered a home.
        The few folk at Steamport, some of whom are no longer with us, did the best that they could in very difficult circumstances. On reflection, it would have been better had funding been found to construct some sort of shelter, under the existing roof, but the money just wasn’t there and it was never envisaged that the tram might be restored to running order one day. We are talking about events that occurred nearly 40 years ago and I think it would be more appropriate to be grateful that Steamport was there when accommodation was needed, as the owners were at the time.

        • Ken Walker says:

          Indeed, Sandgrounder. I also think it would be a better to celebrate the excellent restoration that has been achieved, rather than arguing over the fine detail of what happened 40 years ago when circumstances were very different as regards what could be achieved. Whatever damage happened to 245 at Southport and regardless of whether it could have been avoided, a restoration which many thought impossible has now been completed, and that is what matters.

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