Down at the Tram Barn in FerrymeadHeritagePark last week I spotted a mammoth tramcar restoration project in its initial stages – the Hills car No.24. The Tramcar was built in 1912, one of 13 trams eventually assigned to the new route up Hackthorne Road to the Sign of the Takahe terminus opened in May that year. It was the No.2 Cashmere route. In the reverse direction it was No.1 route to Papanui.
Christchurch Hills combination trams were distinguished by their additional braking. I remember very well riding them, always thinking, “Will we make it up the hill?” We always did.
No.24 experienced several changes over the years in body design and livery. It is being restored to its 1950 appearance, a period many Christchurch people will remember. It will be green with a yellow waist band.
The Ferrymead-based Tramway Historical Society is known for meticulous world class heritage restoration. This effort is predicted to cost around $400,000. Funds have come from various sources such as the Lotteries Commission. Another important income stream will be re-instated when the Christchurch Heritage Trams returns to the streets later in October.
The city trams are leased from the Heritage Tramways Trust associated with the Tramway Historical Society.
Regrettably, media reports focus solely on how much the Christchurch City Council is forking out to re-start the city tram. While accurate, such reports fail to mention that, while the infrastructure is built and maintained by the Christchurch City Council, it is leased by a private company, Christchurch Tramway Limited, to operate the system as a sort of franchise.
The Christchurch Tramway Limited pays its own employees and pays the Christchurch City Council to use the tram track and its overhead power supply, plus tram stops.
And, Christchurch Tramway Limited will assist the on-going heritage tramcar restoration at Ferrymead. Funding for this work has been limited while the city tramway was shut down for almost three years. We can therefore expect multi benefits from the return of the trams, not to mention the boost to Christchurch’s all important visitor attractions.