April 3, 2008

The restored horse tram makes its way around Heaton Park in Manchester.
© SG Hyde

A traditional horse tram is to join the Heaton Park Tramway's collection of working vintage trams, following painstaking restorations carried out by The Manchester Transport Museum Society (MTMS).

The vehicle (no. L53) is the only surviving complete reversible horse tram from over 500 designed by coachbuilder John Eades in 1887 and used in and around Manchester until 1903.

Until it was rescued from a retirement near Glossop 25 years ago, when the restoration work began, the tram had been utilised in a number of unusual ways including as a hairdresser's salon and a fish and chip shop.

For the more than two decades a team of skilled volunteers have been repairing and refurbishing the tram, which will be officially re-launched for public use on March 27, in the presence of the Lord Mayor of Manchester and members of the Eades family, on the Heaton Park tramway.

Trams operate from the Park's tram shelter on Sunday's and most bank holidays throughout spring and summer offering rides on vintage trams.

The reversible tram, patented by John Eades, is unique in that it uses the horse's own power to turn the body of the tram for a return journey along the track; other types of vintage tram simply reverse back to the start for a new journey.

Chairman of the MTMS, Rober Hill, said: "It is wonderful to have completed this unique part of Manchester's transport history and I hope that as many as possible will enjoy the chance to experience riding on it in the park."

Councillor Michael Amesbury, Manchester City Council's Assistant Executive Member for Arts & Leisure said: "The Transport Museum Society have done a fantastic job in restoring the tram to its former glory and in rescuing this part of the city's heritage. Heaton Park is a popular family attraction and the tram will be an extremely welcome addition for visitors."