Birkenhead Tramway Celebrates 80 since the Town’s last Tram

Birkenhead Tram No.20 lovingly restored and running last Saturday.

An interesting day out last Saturday (with Lydiate photographer Keith Page) at Merseyside Tramway Preservation Society’s 80 year anniversary event held to commemorate the passing of all those years since the last public service tram ran in Birkenhead.

The modern tramway has been laid in more recent times and runs from Woodside Ferry Terminal to the Society’s Tram Shed/Museum at Taylor Street.

A modern recreation of a Birkenhead Tram. In fact it’s a former Hong Kong Tram in disguise

The tramway is run by volunteers and operates at the weekend and at other times during school holidays and is well worth a visit. Please check opening/tram running times before you set off though. At only £2 for a return trip on an historic tram its an economical day out too.

Here’s a link to the Society’s Facebook page:-

www.facebook.com/wirraltransportmuseum

The first photo is also amongst my Flickr photos at:-

www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

A great send off for Charles (Uncle Albert) Walker

Only six days after the funeral of former Maghull and Sefton Councillor Jim Byrne we had another one this time for Charles ‘Uncle Albert’ Walker, also a former Maghull Town Councillor, today.

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This was my personal tribute to Charles which his family asked me to contribute to his funeral service.

Uncle Albert

I first met Uncle Albert, then known of course as Charles Walker, when he was in his early 70’s.

He came over as a really nice chap but little did I know how our friendship would develop over the next 20+ years and that he would become a very close chum indeed.

I give you a handful of personal insights into Uncle Albert

Singing RAF songs! – It happened out of the blue during a car journey from Maghull to the Littleborough & Saddleworth Parliamentary by-election where Uncle Albert, Andrew Beattie Andrew Blackburn and myself were off to deliver leaflets. The nice gentleman sharing the back seat of the car with one of the Andrews just started to sing what I will call a risqué song of the kind those acquainted with rugby songs would understand. We knew then that we had a right one with us!

Fire watching on top of George Henry Lees during the Liverpool Blitz – Yes Charles did that and he saw incendiary bombs hitting the city all around him. One night he was at his lofty dangerous post and saw the incendiary fall and hit St Luke’s Church. Yet when he told us about it he seemed to have no comprehension of the extreme danger he had been in. To him it was his job as an employee of George Henry Lees to try to put out any fires. A brave man indeed.

Pitch and Put – He had played on the pitch and put course at Harrison Drive, New Brighton many times, especially before the war, and it showed. Neither of the Andrews nor I could beat him despite around a dozen attempts to do so on our days out with Uncle Albert around this childhood stamping ground of The Wirral.

East Lancashire Railway – Uncle Albert went with us to this persevered railway a number of times over the years and he loved it. What with steam locomotives, old fashioned carriages and travelling on them with his mates. But what he seemed to like best was the buffet facility on Bury Bolton Street Station where he would climb into an all day breakfast whilst watching steam trains pass by.

Mushroom Omelettes? – By now uncle Albert had been ‘adopted’ by both the Robertson and Blackburn families and Sheila Robertson wanted to take Charles (she always called him Charles) out for a meal. And what a hit it was as he loved the mushroom omelettes at the Stanley Arms in Aughton. Unsurprisingly Sheila kept taking him back there and he kept enjoying them.

Other visits – we took Charles to the RAF Cosford museum a couple of times, to Crich Tramway Museum, to Birkenhead Tramway Preservation Society and to the Yorkshire Air Museum at Elvington. He loved these trips out and was great company. At Elvington we turned around and he had disappeared only to be found later deep in conversation with another elderly ex-RAF chap talking about their life and times in the Royal Air Force. In Birkenhead he rode a Wallasey tram like those that ran in his youth and he was delighted.

And what of his times as a Maghull Town Councillor? Japanese Knotweed was one of his big campaigns. Trouble is it is still there in Foxhouse Lane despite him hounding Network Rail to eradicate it.

The potholed surface of Maghull Station car park was another, thankfully it’s now in good nick.

And what about Mrs Bradley’s Passage? It’s a short footpath that joins Poverty Lane and Summerhill Drive and was a littered and potholed mess at the time. Mrs Bradley lived next to it and she asked Charles to get Sefton Council to tidy it up regularly. In turn he gave Sefton Council grief to the extent that even the dead hand of a local authority could take it no longer and they tidied it up. But he was not satisfied and said only recently that the beggars had still not resurfaced it as they promised him they would do some 8 or 9 years ago!

He was Vice Chair of the Council’s Policy and Resources Committee for quite a number of years. Sheila Nelson chaired the committee and he enjoyed working with her. We used to joke with him that Sheila kept him in line. I think he looked upon her as his Station Commander!

To the two Andrews and I he was Uncle Albert (after the Only Fools & Horses character of course) to many others he was Charles. To the ladies he was a lovely old gentleman; to us he was a cheeky chap who was one of the boys. He may have been 35+ years older than us but he was our mate and we will miss him terribly.

Still not got to ride a Baby Grand

No not a piano but a Baby Grand tram as this particular type of tram became known as.

The one I am talking about (former Liverpool Corporation tram 245) was restored to working order at Birkenhead Tramway Museum during 2015 but despite a number of trips over to Birkenhead I have still not been able to ride on it.

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I thought last night’s ‘Night at the Tramway Museum’ event was cert’ for a ride as it was definitely running. However, Murphy’s law intervened as it broke down at the Woodside Ferry Terminal end of the line before Jen and I had chance to ride on it. We had to settle for a look around it as a static exhibit. Here are a couple of photos of the beautifully restored (Tram of the year 2015) Liverpool Baby Grand:-

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Click on the photos to enlarge them.

The two photos above are on my Flickr page at:-

www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

Merseyside Tramway Preservation Trust – That newly relaunched Liverpool Baby Grand Tram

Old mate Keith and I together with Jen went to have a look at the new refurbished tram today and great it looks too.

It’s seen below in green and white next to a much older Liverpool tram.

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Click on the photo to enlarge it.

Trouble was it was not running and I got the impression that there were a fair number of us disappointed visitors who had all turned up today at the Trust’s Taylor Street Depot in Birkenhead just to see it running.

Turns out that the volunteer run Trust only have two trained drivers who can operate this tram which has different driving features to the others operated by the Trust. I assume none of the trained drivers were available today so it did not run.

Whilst realising our fun was reliant on volunteers I wonder if I could make a suggestion? It is for the Trust to say clearly on its web site each day which trams will be running so that we can return on a day the Liverpool Baby Grand is running?

And thanks to the volunteers for all they do, without them this great piece of rebuilding would never have happened.

The photo is also on my Flicker Page at:-

www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

Egerton Bridge – Birkenhead Docks

A recent trip to have another look at Merseyside Tramway Preservation Society’s Birkenhead Taylor Street HQ brought this bridge into view whilst riding on a preserved/rebuilt Wallasey tram.

Egerton Bridge

Egerton Bridge – click on photo to enlarge

The bridge is of the bascule type that was placed at various locations around Birkenhead Docks and it is impressive. The wikipedia page below has some information about it:-

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egerton_Dock

The photo is amongst my Flickr shots at:-
www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

Birkenhead Tramway Museum

Lisbon Tram 730

Lisbon Tram 730

I took this photo a while ago on a visit to this excellent local tramway preservation organisation. It is well worth a visit.

/www.mtps.co.uk/730l.htm

When I was about 14 I went on a cruise with my Mum and Dad and it called in at Lisbon where we had a ride on a tram like this one. The track must have been in a poor state back then (1972) as it lurched around all over the place. So much so that as a standing passenger I fell over and in an attempt to save myself I pulled the chord to stop the tram. You can imagine how unpopular I was!

The photo is amongst my Flickr shots at:-
www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/