Restorers aim to get Glasgow’s last tram back on track

Retired engineers at Summerlee Museum of Scottish Industrial Life are restoring the tram to its former glory. Picture: John Devlin
Retired engineers at Summerlee Museum of Scottish Industrial Life are restoring the tram to its former glory. Picture: John Devlin
Have your say

The last of Scotland’s original trams is being restored so it can carry passengers again during its 80th anniversary next year.

The “Coronation” tram, loved for its improved comfort and Art Deco elegance, was the final one in service when Glasgow’s network closed in 1962.

It took up the rear of the farewell tram procession which brought an estimated 250,000 people onto the city’s streets.

Number 1245 was used to shunt other trams being scrapped before it was sold the following year.

It is being refurbished by volunteers to run on a Scotland’s only heritage tramway, at the Summerlee Museum of Scottish Industrial Life in Coatbridge.

It is expected to be the sole Coronation tram operating because the only other one in serviceable condition is undergoing long-term restoration in Derbyshire.

A team of six retired engineers have worked on the project for the last six years, raising some £20,000 for the work completed so far.

A further £87,000 of lottery funding is being sought to complete the job, which they hope will be next year.

Project co-ordinator Chas McAloon said the tram had been rescued in the nick of time after rotting in a shed.

He said: “It had not been touched for ten years after arriving at Summerlee and was getting to the point that if we had not done something it would have been beyond the point of no return.

“We have done a huge amount of work, but what’s holding things up is needing money for the control gear so the tram can operate.”

McAloon, 68, a former BT service manager, said the Coronation was the quintessential Glasgow tram.

He said: “It was the iconic Glasgow tramcar that everyone can relate to.

“Whole generations went to work on them, and when you talk to people about the trams, that’s the one they remember.”

Extra comfort compared to earlier models included doors, heating and padded seats – velour downstairs and leatherette upstairs.

Assisting the project is John Messner, transport curator at the Riverside Museum in Glasgow, which has a static Coronation tram on display.

He said: “The Coronation had one of the highest levels of tram design in the UK, and we have helped by providing drawings.”

Hugh Dougherty, of Old Glory – Steam and Vintage Preservation magazine, said eventually there could even be a longer track for the restored tram to run on.

He said: “She’s a great survivor, having been taken to England, spending time in store at the East Anglia transport museum, and then at Blackpool, before coming to Summerlee in quite poor condition.

“Restoring her for 2019 is an achievement by the Summerlee volunteers – it’s been a case of rebuilding the tram from the bogies up. The Coronations were built for speed and distance, and she might be quite cramped on the Summerlee tramway.

“The original plans for a circular line round the whole site are being dusted down.”