Recently, we reported on plans by the North Eastern Electrical Traction Trust (NEETT) to develop a museum in the Sunderland area in which to house its growing vehicle collection, including trams from Blackpool and overseas. Thanks to this helpful organisation, British Trams Online can now bring readers further information about the plans to construct a building in which to store and display the NEETT collections, and the bonds being formed with other preservation groups.
Firstly, an initial estimate has been obtained for the construction of a new depot building. This is expected to cost approximately £105,000 – a hefty sum, but money that would be well spent as the proposed building would be large enough to provide sanctuary for up to twelve trams. Also included would be a workshop area at the back of the depot. NEETT are now investigating the possibility of applying to the Heritage Lottery Grant, and the bid is likely to include funding for a Heritage Engineer to lead future restoration projects. It is hoped that early jobs will include work on a Bradford trolleybus, and restoring a currently unconfirmed Blackpool tram to pristine condition. Two groups of young people have already volunteered to carry out work on the trams, once suitable facilities are available, and it is hoped that the staff and volunteers at Beamish will provide some assistance.
Although ultimately the Trust have ambitious plans to develop its own operationg tramway, for now the focus is on getting the fleet undercover and beginning to restore some of their vehicles so they can be enjoyed by the public again. NEETT have already entered into agreement with both Beamish Museum and the Heaton Park Tramway and have provisionally agreed to loan out some of its vehicles to both museums. The Trust state that they are keen to do what they feel is best for the future of the vehicles in their care, and this level of co-operation certainly backs that up. In return, NEETT members should be able to enjoy some benefits at other museums and Beamish have kindly offered to hold special events when their supporters will be allowed to drive a tram, under expert supervision.
NEETT undoubtedly have some massive hurdles to overcome and the next few years will be a very testing time for this fledging organisation, but hopefully these challenges will be met and support from transport enthusiasts and funding bodies alike will be forthcoming. As the only society to have succesfully preserved both a Centenary car (647) and a Twin set (674+684) from Blackpool, with other interesting items in its collection, there are plenty of reasons to wish the group well with its future plans and the support of other societies must also go in their favour.