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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Carlton Colville Potpourri

John Woodman

I have made several visits to this wonderful museum in East Anglia and always marvelled at the interrunning of both trolleybuses and trams in which is a relatively confined area. Now that the Museum Society have managed to acquire a significant amount of adjoining land the long held aspirations of extending the tramway as well as presumably the trolleybus service, are finally at hand. The museum's originating tram acquisition was in fact Lowestoft Corporation car 14 which so far at least has yet to receive the final work on its restoration to an operating condition. Instead the museum found itself able to sustain its tram ride with through the unique acquisition of London Transport HR2 1858 which had been purchased privately by an enthusiast and found refuge within a 'paddock' in Chessington Zoo for many years. I saw it there in the late 1950s at least on view and maintained in good overall condition. It turned out to be an invaluable working relic from London's once enormous tram system, unlike the three or four examples kept by London Transport in their storage hangar. A parsimonious tribute to the capital's trams at best. Marvellously turned out London Transport HR2 class 1858 stands ready for the next journey with Amsterdam 474 by way of contrast. The mix of tram and trolleybus overhead wiring is a reminder of times past in several UK towns and cities where both modes worked alongside each other.

Joining 1858 at Carlton Colville came Blackpool Standard 159 following final withdrawal along with sister illuminated Standard 158 which suffered a lingering fate at the hands of the Tramway Museum Society, eventually being finally dismantled. Number 159 has proven a stalwart survivor through the decades since, always popular portraying the image of how traditional tramcars looked in many towns and cities in the UK. A further Blackpool tram also gravitated to Lowestoft, this time from a dormant scheme on Hayling Island which envisaged a working electric tramline for which 11 was acquired by the promoting group. This was not to be and luckily Carlton Colville proved to be the final destination for this solitary surviving example of a Marton Vambac car. An extended period of restoration of the electrical control equipment allowed number 11 to reenter service.

Below : Contrasting profiles with Sheffield Corporation 513 and Blackpool Marton Vambac Car 11 ready for service. Both boast chrome trimmed fenders - dating them to the 1950s.

An older two axle survivor from the Amsterdam city system (474) completed the running fleet up until a more recent arrival on loan from Beamish - Sheffield Roberts car 513 immaculate in its cream and dark blue 1950s fleet livery. With the museum's plans for a lengthier running line the need for additional cars has meant the pending arrival of Glasgow Standard car 488 from Paris via Wales where its complete overhaul is presently underway to allow regular service at the museum - in traditional Glasgow corporation cadmium orange, green and cream relief colours. It is to be hoped that the FHLT's Brush car 290 will join this museum fleet for regular visitor service once the line extension is completed.

Not forgetting Burlingham bodied Portsmouth trolleybus 313 complete with its ornate shaded fleet numbers. And of course similarly immaculate Blackpool Standard car 159 hustled inside the tram depot, with the Lowestoft Corporation car 14 just in view.


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