The half-term has arrived and the site is busy with visitors and staff, who are also preparing for the sell-out Halloween evenings, a couple of bonfire nights and the looming Christmas festival which starts in a couple of weeks. The lighting plan on site is constantly evolving and changing, whilst the ice is now beginning to freeze on the new rink. Alongside the rink new side show stalls are being constructed and across the site work continues on the numerous projects in-hand (see the buildings blog for more on these!).
We kick off this week with a quick look at another museum tramway…
Heritage Railway Association – Heritage Tramway Committee Meeting Autumn 2015
Below: The Heritage Railway Association (HRA) acts as a sort of trade body for the heritage railway and tramway sector, with various sub-committees for specialist areas, including tramways – the Heritage Tramway Committee (HTC). The most recent meeting was hosted by the Birkenhead Tramway last Saturday, and after the proceedings were completed there was a chance to look around. These meetings deal with heritage matters, regulatory themes and lessons-learned with notes shared and compared across this part of the sector. Very useful stuff. The ride was aboard No.69, one of two trams purchased for the Wirral tramway from Hong Kong.
Below: Recent star of the fleet is Liverpool 245, the newly restored ‘Baby Grand’, indigenous to Merseyside and looking stunning in the green and cream livery applied in the system’s latter years. No.762 on the left reflects the earlier livery and pre-streamlined era of the same system.
Below: This is the Merseyside Tramway Preservation Societies current restoration project, Warrington No.2, whose lower deck is well advanced and enjoying the shelter of a new upper deck, seen here under construction.
Below: The Wallasey livery (seen here on No.78, currently separated from its truck) must be one of the brightest and freshest of all liveries carried on a tramcar! It is also unique in being fitted with a Bellamy top cover – an optional extra applied to open-toppers by some operators to increase patronage (and comfort!).
Below: I am rather fond of tower wagons, for reasons I don’t know. It is always a regret that Beamish didn’t retain its former Stockport Corporation Thorneycroft example – it was used extensively on the construction of the Beamish system, but latterly could not be insured as a high-lift working platform (i.e. operational plant) and was disposed of some years ago, being converted to a flatbed lorry. The tramway at Birkenhead connects Woodside Ferry Terminal with Taylor Street depot, the latter home to a museum collection of local vehicles as seen in the photographs below.
Re-homing a Cub
Back in July I reported on: our quest to hoover up as many 1930s Leyland Cub spares as possible, in order to ensure the longevity of our two Leyland Cub busses (ex Crosville 716 being under restoration at present). To this end we have purchased this 1934 Leyland Cub KG3 lorry and the remains of a dismantled KP2 bus (also ex Crosville). The haul includes numerous spare parts as well, so it should prove possible to restore the lorry as well as substantially add to our stocks of spares (which includes a working and complete petrol engine – Leyland using Chrysler derived six cylinder side valve engines on the Cubs for many years). This particular Cub, seen below, was used for collecting animal remains for rendering/reprocessing/leather making until 1966, and features a coachbuilt cab by York, Ward & Rowlatt of Wellingborough (rather than a Leyland example). More on these vehicles in due course…
Below: This week the KG3 was finally collected from its long slumber in Northamptonshire – not giving up without something of a struggle! Fortunately a JCB and farm tractor were available to assist, the lorry being fairly well seized and requiring some encouragement to exit its shed.
Below: After extraction, a lengthy driveway was negotiated, then a section of (fortunately quiet!) road, to align it with Websters’ BRIMEC lorry. It is seen here awaiting the final tug aboard.
Below: Once loaded, the Cub and I were off to Byfleet, to Historic Vehicle Restoration. I had a van well-loaded with spares, largely from the dismantled KP2 that came from the same source. The plan was to take everything to Byfleet in order for Seb Marshall to identify what he wanted removing for use on the restoration of Crosville 716, then re-package the rest plus some other spares recently acquired to move northwards to Beamish.
Below: Attempts were made to strip the front axle components from the KP2 bus, Alan the Websters driver finding a role here!
Below: Meanwhile, as the KG3 had an exhaust system to copy, this was removed, followed by numerous other parts that Seb felt would be handy – this is the brake master cylinder, the piston of which is in the process of being removed – working under a lorry parked on top of a lorry is an interesting and quite confined experience and absolutely filthy work!
Below: Back at Beamish, the very full van was unloaded into the stores, whilst the KG3 was unloaded outside the workshop for Alan and Brian to free up the rear axle and inflate the tyres – both accomplished rather more easily than was feared. Therefore they set about, urged on by Dave Young, seeing if the lorry would start!
Below: And here is the proof that it would – I don’t know how long it has been, but the last tax disc dates from the 1960s, so it is likely to have been very many years! Running on a cup of petrol and charged battery, a brief run was accomplished twice – there being no effective cooling system it was not chanced any longer than this. It was impressive how easily it did start though and whilst not a short-term project, it is nice to know that at least the engine is functional when the time comes to tackle this job. So the Leyland Cub total stands at two buses, one dismantled bus and one lorry plus a healthy stock of spares. But there is always space for more and we need to ensure these vehicles are sustainable way into the future so are always on the look out for more – whether I mean spares of vehicles or both by that will be revealed in due course…
Below: Darren has been busy tidying up the bunds of earth from the recent barn site preparation, some of which have been used to create the base of a screen for the railway behind the Town. This will be planted, the actual undergrowth creating the screen and also giving us a working area for such things as construction work on the 1950s town area and trolleybus route. The excavator has now been tracked around to the rear of the Colliery where similar work is being carried out before the 360 is off-hired and the winter programme of maintenance and development for this part of the team begins.