Vintage Bluebird tram is set to ‘take flight’ again

"Crich Extravaganza" August 1986,
"Crich Extravaganza" August 1986,

Peak District tramway museum collaborating with London transport enthusiasts to restore 1930s vehicle and add it to the collection of working trams.

A popular Peak District heritage attraction has been working to restore a 1930s London tramcar to add it to the fleet of historic trams operating at Crich.

The restoration project for the London County Council Tramcar No.1 (LCC 1) is a five-year collaboration between the National Tramway Museum at Crich and vintage transport enthusiasts in London.

The tram first arrived in the Peak District in June 2014 for major restoration, in order to join the museum’s collection of operational tramcars that visitors can ride at Crich Tramway Village.

There it will take its place among restored vintage trams from around the world that visitors can ride on the atmospheric mile-long track layout set in beautiful Derbyshire countryside.

Visitors are given an old penny to exchange for a day ticket with the knowledgable volunteer conductors who are dressed in vintage uniform.

Many of our supporters did not expect to see this famous London tramcar being brought back to a condition where they can ride on Bluebird again

The tramway museum features nostalgic shops and cafes and a bandstand in a period village setting.

There is even a beautiful old pub, the Red Lion, that was brought to the site from Stoke on Trent and painstakingly rebuilt, brick by brick.

The village also includes a tramshed full of memorabilia and an exhibition display, plus woodland walks and a sculpture trail.

Completed in 1932, the LCC 1 tram was the prototype for a proposed new fleet of tramcars for London that were intended to utilise the latest techniques in engineering.

The idea was to produce a vehicle that could rival the increasingly popular motorbus that eventually became the common sight on London streets that it remains today.

It was known as the Bluebird, due to its original blue and ivory livery,

During its construction, the tramcar’s design changed many times, with tweaks being made during production.

Not destined to go into mass production, LCC 1 still saw service in London for almost 20 years, before being sold to Leeds and seeing further service on the city’s streets.

Work to restore the Bluebird tram at Crich

Work to restore the Bluebird tram at Crich

The restoration project is a joint venture between the Tramway Museum Society, who are providing the workshop facilities and skilled team to undertake the restoration, and the London County Council Tramways Trust, whose supporters are generously providing the finance for the project.

Both organisations are also utilising the skills and knowledge of members to provide technical input to advance the project and provide historical accuracy.

Laura Waters, curator at the National Tramway Museum, said: “During the deconstruction process, we learnt more about LCC1’s unique complexities and challenges.”

The project is one of the most complex the museum’s conservation workshop has ever undertaken and is providing some interesting challenges to the skilled team of engineers.

The two groups recently held a joint meeting to review the progress of the project and have both agreed a completion date.

The tramcar should be fully restored and operational at the museum by autumn next year.

The roof of the tram being lifted off as part of the restoration at Crich

The roof of the tram being lifted off as part of the restoration at Crich

Engineering manager Neil White said: “The target date for LCC 1 to enter service at Crich, fully restored, is October 2019.

“This remains an ambitious deadline and, to realise this ambition, our conservation workshop is currently interviewing for an additional two technicians to join our skilled workforce.”

Ian Ross, chairman of the London County Council Tramways Trust, said: “Many of our supporters did not ever expect to see this famous London tramcar being brought back to a condition where they can ride on Bluebird again.

“They have been following the progress of the restoration with great interest and greatly appreciate the work being done by the museum team.”

To contribute financially to the restoration of Bluebird and become part of the project, visit the LCCTT website, www.lcctt.org.uk

Updates on the work will be posted on the Crich Tramway Village website blog and Facebook site.

For further details, telephone 01773 854321 or visit www.tramway.co.uk

l Period events taking place at the Tramway Village this year include a visit by the Lincolnshire Morgan Club, exhibiting their luxury cars on Sunday, March 18, and a World War Two Home Front Weekend.

Historic wartime road and military vehicles will be on show and on the move, mingling with a range of vintage trams and a Spitfire on display.

The event will take place on Easter Sunday and Monday, April 1 and 2.

Anyone arriving in 1940s dress will get a discount on the entry price.

The Bluebird tram currently being restored at Crich in its working days in the 1930s

The Bluebird tram currently being restored at Crich in its working days in the 1930s