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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

A wee bit more from Glasgow

'Wee Baldie' makes a brief camera stop on one of its many enthusiast tours during the waning years of the Glasgow tramway. A second tour car follows closely.

Among the many memories I have of days spent riding around this great city is of one particular tram which immediately stood out (if that is the right term) from the hundreds of 'caurs' still serving on several routes. GCT 1089 was a single deck passenger car (to differentiate it from the small fleet of works cars) which could be seen at peak hour service from Partick Depot running along the banks of the River Clyde carrying shipyard workers to and from their labours.

Standing outside Partick Depot (possibly for the camera of Derek Redmond who can be glimpsed rushing across Hayburn Street to record this moment).

Its large standing capacity augmented the shoals of other trams working the 9 and 26 routes each day. Latterly restrictions were placed on standing passengers on all trams (and buses) so the value of a single deck car was diminished but nonethe- less Depot staff and crews still retained a fondness for 'wee baldie' as it was more familiarly known. Built during the mid 1920s to test passenger flow and high speed service (not a success) it was modified to operate in the usual rear platform style of every other tram on the then large network.

For some reason it was kept on 'the books' right up to the end of Glasgow's trams in September 1962 - becoming part of the final procession through the city. This fortunately allowed its transition into preservation as part of the marvellous city transport museum initially housed in the former Paint Shop of the Coplawhill Works. Two museum moves later I made a more recent reacquaintance with 1089 in the remarkable Riverside Museum, appropriately sited in the vicinity of the tram's former route. Here it stands in solitary splendour - a unique survivor from the 1920s at a time when tramways around Britain were experimenting with new and novel designs, some being single deck. Bradford's centre entrance number 1 springs to mind, as does the Liverpool experimental 757 - an add-on to English Electric's ten car contract for Blackpool Corporation Tramways in 1928 (167-176).

Splendidly displayed on setts and track at the Riverside Museum with Duntocher on its blind - a route requiring only single deck trams due to a low bridge. Glasgow 1016 and 1017 would have been sister cars on this unique route. Open balcony Glasgow 'Standard' 779 can be glimpsed in the background.

My best memories of 1089 are from one or two of the many enthusiast special tours which were a frequent feature in Glasgow in its final years. Here crowds of like minded would cluster around the tram on excursions which took it to unfamiliar nooks and crannies (tracks that is) which were still very much a feature of the remaining routes. For enthusiasts it also held a great fascination and no doubt would have been the subject of a special fund raising appeal had not the transport authorities found it in their heart to ensure its survival with the designated museum collection. Another unique survivor was 1100 (featured in a previous blog) which did owe its survival to the efforts of enthusiasts and one in particular - a certain Mr Keith Terry.

So thanks for the memories 1089 : All Images : John Woodman

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