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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Glasgow 488 Comes Home

One of the more intriguing tram restoration developments now underway is the return to operation of Glasgow Standard Car 488 from its long sojourn in Paris following withdrawal in 1962. It is seen here prior to being transferred from Coplawhill Workshops in Glasgow to its then new residence at the St Mande museum courtesy of French transport enthusiasts :

Number 488 is one of six examples of the thousand strong class of Glasgow's standard type 'caurs' still in existence. It is also the only Standard retaining familiar GCT colours which were a hallmark on the city's streets.

It is therefore particularly inspiring that 488 is going to reappear in these same fleet colours when its restoration to working condition is complete. All of the other examples have been given fleet liveries from earlier periods of the 20th Century. During my time in France I visited the St Mande transport museum collection on a number of occasions. Regrettably the museum later closed its doors due to redevelopment plans for the site and has not (so far) been reconstituted elsewhere. Paris was noteworthy for extensive operation of double deck trams in early years, with both steam, compressed air, conduit and subsequently overhead trolleypole operation of fully enclosed types. Regrettably no original Paris examples were preserved and as a fall back option the French group finally secured a Glasgow Standard car to fit that gap. With the museum's closure 488's survival became moot and into this void has stepped the admirable East Anglia Transport Museum. The Carlton Colville collection at one time had the experience of housing a Glasgow car in the form of a Coronation car privately owned. This subsequently came to Rigby Road for interim storage and thence onward north to the Summerlee Museum near Coatbridge where it is currently being worked on to enable operation on that Museum's short line. It will be the only operating example of its type when completed. Crich, Glasgow and Seashore all have a Coronation Mk I tram but these are all on static display - although the Crich car 1282 did operate extensively for many years after a full rebuilding in the 1980s.

One other Glasgow Standard 'caur' remains still exiled and out of public view - in this case held by the Science Museum at their reserve store near Swindon.

Below : Glasgow 488 when it stood alongside French trams at St Mande. In this case its companion is an excellent example from the long lasting Lille interurban line running east from that city to the border with Belgium. Number 213 is a rare example of a modern French designed and built tram which performed admirably on the reserved track fast running line into Lille, but which sadly was not copied by other French tram systems. Its classic lines reflect distinctive styling from the late 1930s. Both images by John Woodman.


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