Friends and supporters of Manchester’s Heaton Park Tramway, which is run by the Manchester Transport Museum Society, were devastated to find that it was targeted by thieves. During the night of Monday 23 September 2019, they stole the overhead copper wiring that is used to power the trams.
Some of the volunteers wondered if the tramway, which is the only remaining part of the Manchester Corporation Tramways that operated between 1901 and 1949, would ever run again.
However, the current Manchester Metrolink tram network was already on the case. Keolis Amey Metrolink (KAM) was searching for replacement wires and had contacted its contractor Pod-Trak about what work as needed to get the historic tramway operating again.
Metrolink owner Transport for Greater Manchester also got involved as its head of Metrolink Danny Vaughan explained: “The Heaton Park Tramway is a fantastic attraction, enjoyed by thousands of people every year, and an important piece of our transport heritage.
“As soon as we heard about this appalling theft, I picked up the phone to KAM and they were already on with finding a solution. Credit to them and Pod-Trak, they’ve pulled out all the stops and wasted no time in getting the tramway operational again, much to the delight, I’m sure, of future visitors.”
Once the correct wire was located, the actual repairs were completed in a day. After testing, the tramway will be back in action and the team of dedicated volunteers is already planning a grand re-opening to celebrate.
Keolis Amey Metrolink’s head of tram engineering projects Graham Thornton, who was instrumental in getting the repairs done, commented afterwards: “We’ve got strong links with the Heaton Park Tramway – over the years, our staff have volunteered their expertise and time, so we simply had to help. We sourced the wires they need and organised for Pod-Trak to carry out the repairs.
“These trams are a vital piece of Greater Manchester’s heritage and, for us, and we’re proud to get the tramway operational again, for the volunteers and public to enjoy.”
Geoff Senior, the operations manager of the Heaton Park Tramway, was grateful for the speedy and comprehensive assistance: “Ours is the only tramway that operates on its original 1901 track.
“All our volunteers are so grateful for the support given to keep our tramway operating; we rely on gifts, grants and donations to survive, and we will always remember this marvellous response.”
The track is the only remaining part of the Manchester Corporation Tramways, which ran between 1901 and 1949. It was originally used as a siding into the park for trams running along Middleton Road, and was in operation until 1934. The original 300-metre stretch was extended to 800 metres and now runs from Middleton Road to the Heaton Park boat house.