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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

A little bit of the seaside at Heaton Park

With all the attention being given to the returning exiles from Rigby Road for a season (or two) it was particularly poignant sharing a few quiet moments with two once familiar Blackpool trams now resident at Heaton Park (and riding another). The Heaton Park Tramway opened its doors to visitors earlier in the month and I took the opportunity to reacquaint myself with this well managed and maintained heritage line on a sunny and warm weekend.

The Lakeside Depot was open to interested enthusiasts with a courteous Society member escorting us round. Depleted of its usual residents, namely the Manchester electric open top car 173, California car 765 and the magnificently restored Eades horse tram (that of the swivelling bodywork type) plus others in service - just two trams quietly rested at the rear of the shed. Both naturally fascinating to the Author, being from Blackpool.

Grinder Car 1 in its later light green repaint has been sidelined due to motor or similar issues. I once saw this tram at work on Dickson Road and after a Rigby Road repaint in the early 1960s when its wartime matt dark green and ornate fleetnumber was replaced with a smart all over Franklin era green with gill sans fleet number at each end. I found it one summer day parked at the Cabin third track glistening in its new found makeover. (See below)

A Tribute to Rigby Road Works - least known product of the WorkShops in the 1920s along with sister car 2 (now out of sight at Crich).

No not another green and cream 'Balloon' car. The MTMS example 702 also rests at the back the the Lakeside Depot - at least out of the weather and vandals. Its future in the hands of the small team at Heaton Park remains unclear, there are other priorities and Manchester area treasures to be dealt with first. The top deck reveals similar issues to our own example 710 at Wyre Dock - plus the interesting juxtaposition of interior seats from one of the first generation Metrolink cars stored gifted by the operator.

Still a magnificent sight - the rebranded '619' on a former OMO car / EE railcoach frame, bogies and controllers. Providing joy to visitors. I well recall sitting on this tram stuck in crowds on central promenade viewing the flypast of a Vulcan Bomber close to beach and a great thrill at the time.

And a final treat. That magnificently repainted Grinder Car 1 on what was its first outing after refurbishment and passing through the Paint Shop at Rigby Road (for the last time). Image Copyright : John Woodman. Just look at that gleaming paintwork ! Another great survivor.

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