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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

The Passing of a Great Tram Enthusiast

In my teenage years and enamoured of capturing the experience of riding on Britain's fast disappearing first generation tramways, whilst having the good fortune of being raised in Blackpool - then still a flourishing resort, I well recall advance notices of planned tram tours being organised a certain Keith Terry in 'Modern Tramway'.

A 'Terry Tour' would inevitably be a colourful experience; and like a magnet drawing enthusiasts from all over the country to a comprehensive sampling on the fast dwindling tram routes (and systems) then still prevailing in England and Scotland.

Not only were the trams / 'caurs' carefully selected for each individual tour from remaining members of operating fleets whose numbers were inexorably being eroded as routes closed and replaced with buses (or trolleybuses): but also the optimal amount of travel variations utilising crossovers, sidings and other track infrastructure fitted within what might have seemed to local management a relatively simple private tour request. Not so as it would usually turn out..

Crew members on the hired trams were also sought who were sympathetic to the by then well known 'antics' of visiting enthusiast parties, desirous of traversing every crossover or siding for inevitable photo stops. Special tickets would be sold as souvenirs to the fortunate participants, whilst the opportunity for well known photographers to display and sell prints of their ample personal collections (usually in the lower saloon of this or that car during the tour itself) were an added feature.

In addition to his well regarded fame in organising tours, especially in Blackpool, Keith was also very much involved in recording the later years of his local system, Leeds City Transport. This endeavour extended of course to assistance with securing preservation of Leeds trams at a time when discretionary expenditures and earning power were finite - as was the lack of any formal museum dedicated to tram preservation. By 1959 this particular void had just been filled in the nick of time through formation of the embryonic Tramway Museum Society and securing a longterm lease (or was it purchase?) of a then derelict narrow gauge quarry rail line at Crich. This bravesome venture involved other well known names from the formative years of tram preservation in Britain; those whose combined efforts have resulted in the by now impressive collection and operation in the Derbyshire Peak District.

Scottish enthusiasts similarly concerned at the potential loss of valuable tram heritage combined to work with the new Crich museum by placing representative trams from the final system closure (Glasgow) in the safe care of the TMS. Fortunately Glasgow's own transport management and city fathers saw equal merit in a permanent display of 'caurs' and thus Glasgow possesses its own distinctive transport museum on the Clyde.

Keith's own initiatives were varied and at the time, urgent in nature. One result of his efforts was the preservation of Glasgow 1100 - a hybrid double deck 'caur' beloved of tram enthusiasts visiting in that system's final years (along with 1089). Whilst 1089 found itself esconced within the city's own collection - 1100 was deposited at Crich as very much a fait accompli given the absence of alternative secure home north or south of the border. It remains in store presently but will no doubt reappear and definitely with Keith's name on it to recognise his energies in securing preservation of this unique Glasgow 'caur' - one which I remember very well indeed.

There are many tales to be told of Keith by all who came into contact with him through the years. I certainly recall his tours in Leeds, Sheffield, Glasgow and Blackpool with great fondness. News of his passing this week is a personal loss and setting in place a chapter closing on a time of enthusiast innocence when a handful of people could muster funds to purchase, transport and safeguard vehicles of considerable size for perpetuity and future generations to ponder on.

A service for Keith's passing will be held at Lawnswood Crematorium, Leeds at 1 pm on August 9th with a following gathering at Westwood Hall, Otley Road.

Rest in Peace Keith Terry MBE

No more fitting memorial than Glasgow 1100 seen here on Hayburn Street outside Partick Depot with appropriate destination screens in 1961.

Caught in the shade - Leeds Horsfield 160 snapped on a hurried afternoon visit from Blackpool in 1958. At least one example made it into preservation at Crich.

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