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24 September 2014

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You are in: Liverpool > Capital of Culture > Features > Liverpool's last tram

Liverpool Last Tram

Liverpool's last tram

Liverpool's last tram

There are calls for Liverpool’s last tram to be returned to its home city from its current home in a museum in the USA.

Liverpool Trams

Electric trams first operated in Liverpool in November 1898.

At the height of the tram operation in 1945 there were 744 trams running in Liverpool along 63 routes. Trams at this time outnumbered buses three to one.

Following the Second World War, Liverpool City Council took the decision to move away from trams in favour of buses. From 1948 onwards the network was wound down with the last trams running in 1957.

A Liverpool born man is calling for the city's last tram to be returned home from an American museum.

Liverpool’s last tram 293 ran on Saturday 14th September as part of a procession to mark the end of trams in Liverpool. Car 293 now languishes in a warehouse at the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine, USA.

Eric Potter emigrated to Canada from Liverpool in 1974 he recently visited the Maine based museum and discovered Liverpool’s last tram

“While browsing through the post cards I was surprised to find Liverpool’s Last Tram.  I asked one of the guides where I could find this tram as it meant so much to me.  My grandfather was one of the last to drive these trams and I well remember standing at the corner of Bowland Avenue and Bowring Park Road to watch our last three trams trundle by.  The guide told me that it wasn't on display, but I could find it in a warehouse if I wished to see it.”

293 was a ‘Baby Grand’ tram, a smaller version of the ‘Bogie Streamliner’ cars which ran through the city’s streets. One of the Bogie Streamliners still survives at Britain’s National Tramway Museum at Crich, Derbyshire.

Liverpool Tram

A Liverpool tram

Eric Potter says the last tram is hidden away in the museum as if forgotten  “When we did find it, I was rather disappointed that it should be just stored away as if it meant nothing.  I boarded the tram and immediately went to the Number Indicator and changed it from No 14 Gateacre and Huyton to No 6E Edge Lane, the number it had on its last run.  I was showing my wife how the seats worked, how you just pulled the back over when the tram turned around.  

“It seems such a shame to me that part of Liverpool’s heritage is lying in a shed in North America and not back home in Liverpool where it belongs.  Maybe the people of Liverpool could lobby to have it returned.”

One of Liverpool's old trams

One of Liverpool's old trams

Not all of Merseyside’s trams have disappeared, National Museums Liverpool hold an old Liverpool tram in their street transport collection. The tram had formed part of the Large Objects Museum in the 1980's but following its closure it went into storage. Although not currently on public display it’s hoped some of the collection will form part of the planned new Museum of Liverpool at the Pier Head.

In Birkenhead trams have returned to the streets of Merseyside thanks to the work of the Merseyside Tramway Preservation Society a heritage tramway runs Hong Kong built trams along a short route in the town. Birkenhead is the historic home of the first street tramway in Europe.  Europe's first tramway was established in Birkenhead on August 29th 1860 running from Woodside to Birkenhead Park.

last updated: 04/09/07

Have Your Say

What do you think? Should a campaign be started to return Liverpool's last tram home? Add your comments here.

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

Percy Wheeler
I am delighted that Merseytravel lost the battle of the ridiculous plan to re-introduce them in Merseyside, there must have been a reason why we got rid of them!!!!! In addition, why bring this back to England, the fact that we got rid of it just about sums up its value. I find the whole idea of trams as interesting as buses, boring and tedious, thats my rant over.

John Wagg
The last tram must come back to Liverpool instead of rotting in America.

Dave Davies.
Of course this tram should be brought back. I have loaned 1d,2d(child)and 10d workers return tickets to the Merseyside Museums.There are 50 tickets stapled together in each bunch. These things should be preserved for our histories sake!

Peter Jordan
Please return this important vehicle in our transport history back to its home in Liverpool !

Paul
I deffinitly think that our last tram should be returned and put on display back here in its home town.

Alan Graham
Yes i think it would be good for Merseyside,for the Tram to come Back to her rootes,&Perhaps one day in the future,the royal Iris,as well to Return.

jim
with the capital of culture 2008 the tram would be fantastic in this lovely city

Lesley Parsons
yes its a wonderful find. we used to travel on the edge lane trams to my nans on wavertree road.saw last onre with my dad sad they went infirst place

David Orchard
The Americans have a slight point in pointing out that they paid out to preserve the tram in the first place, but the fact that since 1957 they have done nothing at all to restore it (and not much even to preserve it) rather weakens their argument. In contrast, there IS now a active working museum tramway on Merseyside in Birkenhead / Wirral,with one Liverpool tram already running (762), which would be the ideal place to run 28 once restored (hopefully with UK Lottery funding to pay for its restoration !) So for these two fairly concrete reasons, I would argue that the tram should be brought back to Merseyside to run again within sight of its home city.

Nicholas Catterall
Great idea, I would love to see this tram back in Liverpool.

Marge, Bridgeport, Connecticut USA
Liverpool's last tram should be brought back home to Liverpool to commemorate the end of an era. So much of Merseyside’s heritage has been lost never to returned. An example of lost heritage in the name of progress, the overhead railway. I believe that it is an important part of Liverpool’s history. We research our family roots, we have buildings and transportation by trams is part of our heritage. Our ancestors only means of transportation for work and recreation in the past besides walking. Scouser’s around the world and in Liverpool should push for a campaign to return the tram to Liverpool! Let’s get the tram back home for the Capital of Culture celebration. Let’s go Scouser’s!

les mayers
the tram sould be brought back to where it belongs and fixed up and put into service with mtps along with 762 as soon as possible

chris byrne wallaceburg ont canada
bring it on home!!! i remember the white tram going down edge lane what a memory always a scouser

James Simpson
yes this is where it belongs

julie
I remember my Mum telling me stories about the tram and how a funeral came by, the wheels from the herse got caught in the tram lines.

Bert Smith , Oshawa.Canada.
Yes it should be returned to Merseyside.I grew up in the Borough Rd,Grange Rd area,Birkenhead.Remember them well as a child.The cost to ship it would be expensive,it would have to be dismantled,placed in a container and by sea.

Barry
yes it should be returned home BUT we are complaining that it is just languishing in a whare house yet NMGM has several items of transportation history languishing in there wharehouse! double standards?

Richard Burlend
I think that the tram should be repatriated. Not only that but it should be put back to work on the streets of Liverpool on a short demonstration track somewhere near the old pier head. There are a number of other Liverpool trams about in museums and it would be very good to see some of them running again. Tourist income and interest could be significant.

Neil Barnes
I'm Eric's nephew and now live in California. I think it is a shame that part of Liverpool's history is stuck in a barn out of peoples eyesight. It should be sent home, knowing Eric he'd take it himself if he could!

ALAN LYONS
AS A LITTLE BOY I REMEMBER THE TRAMS VERY WELL, NOW I LIVE IN BOSTON AMERICA AND IF YOU TAKE AWAY ALL THE OLD THINGS THAT ARE PART OF LIVERPOOL ALL THE MOMERIES WILL BE GONE JUST LIKE THE HOUSES THEY ALL CAME TUMBLING DOWN.

Rob Nolan
Not meant to sound derogatory (far from it as if it wasn't for Seashore the tram would have been scrapped!) would Mr Pence be prepared to share with us what plans Seashore do have for returning tram 293 to its former glory? If it is behind countless other trams to be restored then surely that would suggest that it is considered to be less important to the collection, and hence would surely represent a great bargaining chip that could be used to boost funds to help restore other trams in the collection?

Stephen Grimes
I agree it should go home. I am now living in the USA but have fond memories of actually riding the last tram which was a 6a from Bowring Park Rd with my Dad.

Herbert Pence, FCILT
I am a member of the Seashore Trolley Museum, where No. 293 languishes in a storage barn. Had not STM members 50 years ago raised the sums needed to purchase and transport No. 293 to Maine, USA, we would not be having this discussion. Additionally, the car would have been converted into tin cans. STM is in the process of restoring a double deck British tram for tourist service, next year. Perhaps the interest shown in an old tram car could be better applied to the current dust up with Transport to return a contemporary tram system to Merseyside. Finally, I have two comments: 1. Why not restore and display the tram car which is in the National Museums Liverpool collection and 2. There is an unresolved matter with the Greeks about the Elgin Marbles. Perhaps there is a parallel. Brst Regards, Herbert Pence

eric potter
I was the person who first filed this report on our Last Tram, and would like to further add that I too have lots of fond memories of our penny returns (as schoolchildren) to the Pier Head and back. Also that while looking around this Last Tram I was thrilled to find a packet of five woodbines and a last tram ticket. I promise you that I did not smoke them Woodbines !!!

Pieter de Poel (lpudlianinNL)
Dear Mr Potter, Its a disgrace the tram should be in Lpool need any help just email me p.depoel@wanadoo.nl

bob dowson
i agree also the royal iris should come home along with the manxman these are our heritage and should be in our maritime museum.

John H
Would love to see 293 back in Liverpool! Would gladly support any realistic efforts to bring her back and see her running on the Wirral council run heritage tramway in Birkenhead (the Merseyside Tramway Preservation Society provide the vintage trams - see their website www.mtps.co.uk). So lets get fundraising and bring 293 home!

Paul Murray
If some tram enthusiasts society wants to bring it home, fine, I've got no problem with that but I don't think it is important enough to spend a single penny of council tax payers money on. It will only hold any fascination fo a very small number of people and in a few years time it will just end up in a shed in Liverpool instead of America.

Liam Fitzsimmons
Liverpool's last tram should be brought home to liverpool to comemorate the end of an era.

hilbillyjoe
bring it back

Pat van der Veer (Robinson)
I have many happy childhood memories of tram rides down to the Pier Head. Sometimes, while, lying in bed at my Nan's house when it was very dark, the rattle and "psshh" of a passing tram would provide a comforting sound. Followed by a brief flash of bluish light as it connected with an electrical junction. It was magical to me as a small child. Bring back the trams, old and new...They had character.

mike fereday
yes - let's get it back in the uk

Gerry Houghton
For the small cost of purchasing 293 in 1957 -approximately 150 Quid - it should never have left the City in the first place ! Sadly as a 10 year old I didn't have the cash. What childhood memories it would hold for me now at 1d return. By all means try to get it back but don't knock the Yanks if they don't want to part with it they at least knew the uniqueness of it then and more so now almost 50 years later.

Neal Goodwin
I am a UK man living in the USA. I think the tram should go home to Liverpool

Anthony Gillon
Bring Her Back Home.Please.

Roy M - |Liverpool
Trams have never been a successful means of transport for many years, if they were that good, why where they taked out of service in the first place ?

Richard fleming
I think it shud be returned because so much of merseyside's heritage has been lost never to return this CAN return.

patricia Johnson
Start a campaign to bring back the trams With trams on the line there'll be no traffic jams Then maybe one day the whole world will agree That Liverpool's the greatest port on the sea.

Peter Dunne
Get them back at any cost, as a resident of the U.S. i often travel to San Francisco where the city has restored all it's old cable cars and trams and operate them daily as part of the local transit ./Bring Them BaCK!.

Zygmunt Dean
A genuine Liverpool tram (762) runs on the Birkenhead Tramway between Woodside Ferry and the Transport Museum at Taylor Street. This beautifully restored vehicle can be seen whenever the museum is open and runs at least some weekends every month on the tranway. Other trams at Taylor Street are former Birkenhead and Wallasey vehicles, and a Lisbon tram is very nearly complete and ready to run. I would strongly recommend visiting this location as a very clear idea of what the old trams were like can be found here. All the same, I would be delighted if Merseytravel won its legal battle with the DfT and modern trams were running between Kirkby and Liverpool. Zygmunt Dean, Chair, MTESG.

Joan Martin
I believe anything to do with our history should be returned home especially since "modern technology" is taking over. Things from our past are the best memories ever.

mr rogers
excellent article, yes a campaign should be started

A W Gilliland
Of course the tram should be returned to Liverpool. I have many happy memories of travelling to the City centre on the old, partly open-top, wooden seat trams in the '40s and '50s, from the Five Ways terminus, as well as the newer versions. I left Liverpool in 1950, with my parents but still have vivid memories. My father worked at Royal Liver and we lived at Childwell, so Saturday morning was a regular tram trip!

alan dunn
yes, it should be brought back to liverpool. i remember it's last journey - we watched it at the junction of sturdee road and edge lane

K
Definitely bring it home, why let it rot away in a warehouse in the US, when it can be proudly displayed in Liverpool?

Robert Boyle
I think Liverpool's last tram should return to Liverpool. I remember it's last trip, and I don't think it shought have left.

Neal
let's get it back!

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