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Historic Leeds horse tram rolling for first time in over a century

The tram with its open-to-the-elements top deck which has taken seven years to restore from its dilapidated state as a summer house.

The tram with its open-to-the-elements top deck which has taken seven years to restore from its dilapidated state as a summer house.

  • by Jonathan Brown
 

More than 110 years since it last carted residents around Leeds’s tramlines, the city’s oldest remaining horse-drawn tram has rolled once more.

Although its return to the tracks covered only 200 yards, Leeds horse car 107’s latest milestone in its 35-year restoration from being used as a summerhouse in an East End Park garden to getting back on the tracks is a momentous one. Around 10 volunteers from the Leeds Transport Historical Society have spent years reviving the former horse-drawn double-decker passenger tram, which moved to Middleton Railway, in Hunslet, in August.

Project manager Jamie Guest, 60, from Gildersome, said: “It was absolutely brilliant to see it literally come alive as a tram because it was moving on its suspension and it suddenly was a tram again.

“It had always had a presence when we first saw it in the garage we knew it needed to be restored but to see it moving on rails again was an unbelievable feeling.”

He said the tram is the oldest surviving Leeds tram but only ran for three years from 1898.

The 20ft-long, 7ft-high tram went out of service the year Queen Victoria died, having taken up to 34 passengers at a time along the Leeds tramways.

Later, it was used as a workmen’s hut and then as a summerhouse in a garden in East End Park, before it was salvaged and brought to a Whitkirk garage in 1977 in the hope it would one day be restored.

Work formally began on the tram seven years ago but when its chassis and top deck needed fitting it was sent to Middleton.

The completed horse car will be once again pulled by horses at its relaunch at Middleton Railway next summer, before being sent to Crich Tramway Village, in Derbyshire, in 2014.

Andrew Gill, chair of Middleton Railway Trust, said: “We’ll be delighted to see it finished.”

Visit: www.leedshorsecar107.squarespace.com for details.

 

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