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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Oporto Cars at Work

The recent decision of the TMS Board to approve the accession of the marvellously restored Bournemouth open top tram is to be commended of course given that it has been tucked away in storage for quite some time. I did manage to see the tram in the former Electricity Museum years back and was impressed with its display there. Of course it is on narrow gauge (3' 6") trucks which makes it possible return to service questionable at Crich - but one can hope. The last narrow gauge tram - also an open top double decker on a single truck, Cheltenham District Number 21, unfortunately had a less receptive welcome at Crich years ago - and was either evicted or otherwise rejected. Its whereabouts today is unknown or very well concealed. The Cheltenham car was built in Preston and a second generation purchase for that system in the 1920s.

In turn the decision to release (or transfer) title on the Oporto Works Car which has forever been condemned to storage since its arrival from that city - is equally welcome. I am sure Beamish Museum will find an immediate use for this tram given the extensive reserved track layout there. During my extended stay in the USA I visited the excellent working museum at Rockhill Furnace/Orbisonia in Pennsylvania several times. During a later visit I saw this Museum's Oporto Works Car in practical use during the lengthy track extension then being commenced to the original layout. Filled with all manner of tools and materials it brought back memories of Blackpool Engineering Car 4 (now 31) which was similarly filled with work benches and equipment in the lower saloon during its years based inside Bispham Depot.

The Rockhill Furnace museum was quick to acquire two Oporto passenger cars both built by Brill (hence the Pennsylvania connection). Number 249 being sister car to the example subsequently acquired by Crich Museum as a typical 'US bogie car from the pre-PCC and modernisation era of the 1920s'.

New running track laying gets underway - with Oporto 64 playing an important role complete with diesel generator unit in tow to provide motive power. The museum line has been significantly further extended since these images from the early 1990s. The extension being complete with overhead wiring. The Museum is well worth a visit if you are in the northeast US - even though it is located well away from major cities. A working steam railroad shares the museum operation and was mentioned in an earlier Blog this year. Images Copyright : John Woodman

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