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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

LCC 1 - Restoration Par Excellence

By way of illustrating the level of skilled work involved in bringing an old tram back to life in its original condition - the National Tramway Museum are close to completing several years of dedicated effort (and expense) in finalising the return of London County Council Number 1 to service at Crich. Sometime in the coming months the tram will be formally 'launched' in its striking original dark blue and white colours - as the prototype of a new series planned for the LCC tramway network in 1931. These brave plans were thwarted by Governmental edicts requiring London's tramway operations to be combined into 'London Transport' - thus eliminating the quirks and idiosyncracies of diverse municipal, LCC, and company owned systems in the capital (and without).

LCC 1 is launched for publicity photographs complete with a fine signwriting rendition - perhaps not quite appropriate in today's market.

An anti tram bias had already been embedded in the new organisation from the top with stated intention of ridding London of its tram systems, lock stock and rail. Thus new improvement in tram fleets and infrastructure were embargoed. The LCC prototype just slipped through the net as the solitary modern tram (at that time) in the huge fleet of traditional cars (most built by Hurst Nelson) to a 'standardised' Edwardian era style. The tram had an even luckier escape at the end of the London tram operation in 1952 when it was added to the bulk order of Feltham cars from Leeds due to two being damaged before shipment from London. LCC 1 was 'thrown in' to the final delivery as part compensation of the loss of two Felthams.

A hasty 'snap' taken by a London enthusiast as the new tram passes by resplendent in its dark blue and white colours - just to be sure it catches widest public attention amid shoals of red and white trams of the time. Both Images : John Woodman Archive

Thus the tram survived for a further seven years before being donated by Leeds City Transport to the British Transport Commission's museum collection at Clapham upon closure of the final tram routes in that city in 1959.. Here it joined an eclectic assembly of trams that ranged from the Douglas Head and Marine Drive double deck toastrack, to Blackpool's own restored former conduit car, plus examples from Sheffield, Glasgow, Llandudno & Colwyn Bay (ex Bournemouth) as well as the handful of trams grudgingly preserved by the London Transport Executive representing the huge fleets of cars long familiar to Londoners.

With dispersal of the Clapham collection most (if not all) of the trams there found new homes with LCC 1 rightfully and correctly being given depot space at Crich by the TMS. Since then it regained its London Transport colours becoming a static exhibit until with the financial muscle of the London Tramways Trust group it entered the Crich Museum workshop to be stripped down and restored to 1931 appearance in recent years - to allow operation at the Crich Museum at an early date in 2020. Now that's real restoration.

This classic car may not have the streamline features of new trams elsewhere - but its interior features and clean design work set a benchmark for London which was unsurpassed (even by the Feltham class).

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