Sheffield 264 - Fifty Years at Crich

264 when new. It is thought that the bunting on the trolley was to celebrate the coronation in May 1937.

Sheffield 264 – Fifty Years at Crich
Richard Lomas
Sheffield 264 was built by Sheffield transport Department at their Queens Road works and entered service in March 1937. It operated from Crookes Depot until May 1957, was then transferred to Shoreham Street, and ultimately to Tenter Street. It ran in service on the last day of tramway operation, 8th October 1960.
264 on arrival at Crich on 17th December 1960.

It was purchased for preservation by TMS member, Eric Holmes from Bolton and arrived at Crich on 17th December 1960. Roger Mercer, a native of Sheffield, had advised Eric to choose 264 on the basis that the bodywork was sound and nearly as built in 1937 with few modifications. Early in 1961 Eric Holmes disappeared and Roger picked up the tab otherwise 264 would have been sold to pay outstanding bills. Roger formed a small group of supporters and opened a bank account for 264. The supporters were Roger Mercer, Richard Lomas, Garth Tilt, Keith Selvin, Mike Ward, John Marsh, David Johnson and Derek Potter who all paid a small amount each week into the fund. The first priority was to clear outstanding debts and to pay £200 for depot accommodation at Crich.
264 during shunting operations in March 1961.

December 1961 standing on Bacon’s Curve between Sheffield 330 and Leicester 76.
 For the first winter all of the Sheffield trams were stored in the open whilst the first part of what became Depot II was constructed. In the spring of 1961, 189 and 510 were moved under cover as they were fully funded but 264 had to stay outside and was parked on Bacon’s Curve. During the winter of 1961-62, 264 was partially covered by a tarpaulin but it was blown off in a gale. Richard and Roger made the tram secure with padlocks on the north end doors where the screw holes can still be seen. The south end doors were simply jammed shut with pieces of wood. They had also done their best to keep the weather out and to preserve the fabric of the tram by covering the lower deck seats to protect them from bright sunlight and treating the upper deck seats and other leather with ‘hide food’. Traditional fly papers were used during the summer at the top of each stair case. Some small items were removed for safekeeping such as the chrome ventilator strips in the lower saloon and all the light fittings. Many of the moulded glass panels had cracked due to frost damage in the first winter. 
Summer 1962 in the same location with Richard Lomas, Mike Ward and John Marsh standing on the roof. The salt wagon that had been used to store the compressor can be seen on the left.
In the summers of 1962 and 1963 John Marsh, Mike Ward, Ron Heed and Keith Selvin had spent a week’s holiday at Crich staying at the Ambergate Guest House when they had worked on 264 and other projects. When 264 was delivered to Crich the body had been removed from the truck. The trolley pole and trolley base and the air compressor had also been removed. The trolley base was quite heavy and it was raised to the roof in 1962 using two extending ladders for guidance and pulled up with ropes. All the electrical cables between the body and the truck had been carefully disconnected in Sheffield and tagged with small metal numbers.
1962 after the trolley base had been fitted.
 When it was unloaded the body had not been quite lined up correctly with the truck so it had to be lifted on tram jacks. Lifting a tram body on hand operated jacks was a long slow job requiring a minimum of five people – one on each jack and one standing some 10 to 12 feet away to ensure that levels were maintained. The compressor had been stored in an adjacent Glasgow salt wagon which was standing on its side beside 264. Fitting the compressor onto the truck was straightforward. At the same time the truck was cleaned and inspected and, at Ron Heed’s insistence, new high tensile steel bolts were used to fasten the body to the truck. In 1963 the brake gear was re-connected for the first time since the tram arrived at Crich.
May 1963.
 The initial objective of the Society had been to save and operate a few trams. Once an affordable home had been found preservation schemes mushroomed, leading to the famous quotation ‘once we have put a length of track down, someone comes and puts a tram on it’. A sub-committee was formed to look into this and their report known as the Trams Report was presented to an EGM on 30th November 1963. This far sighted report developed a collections policy for tramcars and assessed each tram at Crich against this policy resulting in some seemingly unwanted trams. A compromise was reached and these trams were retained as operational duplicates but future acquisitions must comply with the policy. 264 was classed as an operational duplicate.
Under cover at last. December 1963.
Richard painting in the summer of 1964.
264 was moved into Depot III in December 1963. The depot had no doors and simply protected the trams from the rain and the summer sun. Damp was, and still is, a problem in the winter. From 1964 to 1967, Richard and Roger did their best to conserve 264 by scraping off flaking paint and re-painting small areas. The interior paint had also suffered from the years in the open. The sun had blistered paint and varnish in the window areas and the damp had got into a lot of corners and crevices. All the varnish upstairs was stripped and cracks were filled with body filler. The upstairs ceiling was also stripped. Traditionally smoking had been allowed upstairs on the trams and the white ceiling was stained with nicotine. 
A very shabby 264 late in 1966.
 Late in 1967 Garth visited Crich after receiving a letter from Roger. 264 looked awful. He offered to spend a week’s holiday in the summer of 1968 to paint 264. David Johnson agreed to go with him but it soon became obvious that because of the condition of the old paint that it would be far more than a week’s job. They cleaned the car and started to rub down the old paintwork, uncovering an old ‘STD’ monogram on the side of the upper deck in the process. The south end dash was so bad the all the old paint had to be stripped off. At the end of the week lots of dirt and old paint had been removed but very little new paint had been applied. There was still a lot do so Garth started to attend the Museum most Sundays and worked on 264 assisted by Roger and Richard who also continued stripping old paint and varnish in the lower saloon.
Garth washing down 264 at the start of the week.

Garth at work later in the week. The uncovered STD monogram can be seen on the right.  
 The discovery of the monogram and gold numerals sparked a debate about the most appropriate livery for 264. When new it had been painted cream with two red lines, a coat of arms on the lower deck side and an STD monogram on the upper deck side. The numerals on each dash were gold. During the war some cars received a grey livery but not 264. However the roofs were painted in a grey smudge colour. Smudge was made up from cream, red, blue and black leftovers. Post-war repaints had a thinner red line and slightly smaller blue numerals. In about 1952 the monograms were discontinued in favour of advertising panels. The adverts were all hand painted and adverts for beer or football pools were not allowed. After considerable debate it was decided to paint 264 in the pre-war livery although this was historically inaccurate because 264 had suffered minor bomb damage. One of the wind-down lower deck windows on the west side had been replaced by plain glass and the glass louvres above these windows had been replaced by a plain metal strip.  Roger Benton secured some authentic transfers and a curved wooden sill from Sheffield with help from the late Charlie Hall. Michael Davis provided gold fleet number transfers.
Garth and David towards the end of the week.
All this activity attracted the attention of other regular volunteers who from time to time stepped forward with offers of practical help and advice. One such example recalled by Garth was testing the hand brakes. Frank Bagshaw and the Glasgow 1297 group suggested towing 264 to Wakebridge with the electric loco and testing the brakes on the return journey. This was done in August 1968 and fortunately the hand brakes worked. Later Roger Benton helped to get the air brakes working with the aid of a diagram from an apprentice in the tram workshops in Leeds.
264, 510 and 189 in July 1968.

264 on its excursion to Wakebridge in August 1968.
 In the spring of 1969 a concerted effort was made to get 264 operational so that it could be moved under its own power. John Markham and Bob Carter dried out the motors. This took longer than expected because it was later found that they were of a different design from 189s with bottom access panels so half the heat was being lost. On 18th May 1969 the controllers were cleaned and greased. On 24th May at 3:50 pm Bob Carter took 264 to the open air inspection pit for a mechanical test and then for a main line test. The trolley was not tensioned correctly but Bob fixed it and at 8:30 pm 264 ran to Wakebridge under its own power. On 25th May further tests were carried out and it was agreed that 264 was OK for shunting purposes using series notches only. Later in the summer, the 1297 group assisted in getting the lifeguards repaired and 264 was allowed out onto the main line.
In the spring of 1969 with south end dash panel completely stripped.
Garth at work later in the summer of 1969.
 Throughout the summer of 1969 the painting project continued. 264 has steel body side panels which made the domed roof cars much stronger than their predecessors. However there was water ingress round the screws which had been filled with putty. The putty was gouged out and replaced by modern cellulose filler which is not historically accurate. Loose screws were replaced with longer screws and in one case there was nothing under the screw. The part worn canvas on the balcony covers on each platform was removed and the wood painted. It was impossible to renew the canvas without dismantling the tram. Vast quantities of Nitromors paint stripper were used and Isopon P35 body filler was used for filling holes and dents in the lower panels and dashes. This would not have been done by Sheffield Transport Department.
The paint used was either genuine Sheffield paint or high quality trade paint. The ‘custard’ colour on the inside panels was matched by Masons of Derby.
In the later part of 1969, 264 was often worked on at Wakebridge.
Members’ Day 1970.
The workshop early in 1970.
Harry Siddons, a retired coach painter, painting the ceiling in May 1970.
 By May 1970 the end of the project was in sight and on Members’ Day, 10th May 264 was permitted to carry members only seated in the north end bay. The rest of the tram was still full of clutter and many of the fixtures and fittings which had been removed for safe keeping had yet to be replaced. The light fittings were put back without glass to prevent further damage, the windscreen wipers and stair mirrors were missing and the exterior driving mirrors were not refitted. The airbrake gauges were renovated by Keith Terry and it is thought that some of them are ex London trolleybus. The final touches to the paintwork, lining out and transfers, were completed in July. A formal mechanical inspection took place on 2nd August when 264 was passed for service subject to certain minor repairs. Finally on 22nd August 1970, Richard and Roger operated 264 in public service. The following weekend was the Extravaganza and 264 ran in intensive service on the Sunday and Monday.
22nd August 1970.

22nd August 1970.

Keith Chadbourne took this picture of 264 at the 1970 Extravaganza on its second or third day in service.    
Kath Lomas driving 264 in October 1970.
 On 3rd October 15, 46, 189, 264 and 510 marked the tenth anniversary of the closure of Sheffield tramways with a formal visit by the Lord Mayor and other dignitaries including former managers R C Moore and C T Humpidge. Chaceley Humpidge was also the Society’s president.
Sheffield 15, 264 and 46 on 3rd October 1970.
The visiting dignitaries standing front of 510 with 264 in the background.
 During the winter of 1970/71 the interior painting and varnishing of both saloons was completed and this has not been touched since then. In the early summer we agreed to a request for Chaceley Humpidge’s name to be painted on the side as general manager. Following this a complete coat of varnish was applied to the exterior. Some of the lino on the platforms was replaced and metal strips were used to cover the joins. 264 was now part of the service fleet and the workshop assumed responsibility for maintenance. Maintenance records still exist. From 1972 until 1975, 264 worked hard as one of the front line service trams. One summer 264 and Glasgow 812 were set aside as the two designated mid-week trams. The Society’s President, Chaceley Humpidge, died suddenly in June 1972. On Sunday, July 9th 1972, the tram service was operated by Sheffield cars and 264 ran with black drapes and a black pennant flying at half mast on the trolley rope. Merlyn Bacon was the driver and Roger the conductor.
Merlyn Bacon (driver) and Roger Mercer (conductor) with 264 on 9th July 1972.
 In 1973 a static survey was carried out which noted some 25 minor defects. In September and October 1975 264 received workshop attention which was reported in the January 1976 Journal. “Sheffield 264 was lifted following the Extravaganza to enable the platform bearer packings to be replaced. These packings, one at each end of the car consist of a length of 3 inch by 1½ inch steel channel section located transversely across the car between the tails of the four platform bearers, also being of steel construction. The existing packings had suffered extensive corrosion in the web at their extremities due to wheel splash over the years leading to partial collapse of the packings which would, ultimately, have resulted in the platform dropping. New packings were manufactured and exchanged for the old ones, the actual replacement being the quickest part of the operation, prior dismantling to obtain access being a time consuming process. Whilst the car was lifted the opportunity was taken to remove the underframe and to subject the air reservoirs to a hydraulic test. The truck was also examined, which revealed that one axlebox was giving trouble because the bearing locknut had shaken loose from its fastening on the axle. The wheelset was removed and the axlebox repaired and reassembled using Loctite techniques.” 
264 hard at work at the 1973 Extravaganza.
August 1973.
Wakebridge in 1976.
 The April 1976 Journal reported. “Work is proceeding on the internal refurbishment and on minor repairs to the exterior. The lower saloon floor is being replaced where necessary and new lino will be laid. The upholstery and light fittings are receiving attention, new staircase mirrors have been acquired and a lower saloon door has been eased. The roof has been patched and repainted and two upper saloon window pillars have been recapped. Touching up of the paintwork is in hand.” Garth still maintains that the roof patches with waterproof tape were unnecessary as 264 didn’t leak at the time.
From 1976 both 189 and 264 were placed on restrictive mileage to defer major overhauls. They were both withdrawn at the end of the 1979 season. Neil Dorsett was 264’s last conductor and he thinks that Kath Lomas was the driver.
Wakebridge in 1978.

1978 with Roger Mercer driving.

264 and 189 at Glory Mine in 1979.
 264 was stored in the depots until the autumn of 1984 when it was taken into the workshop. Carl Jones was employed as a coach painter at the time and he re-painted 264. The livery was changed back to post-war introducing several inaccuracies. 264 had a darker shade of grey roof when it arrived at Crich. The building and paint dates on the north end platform were painted over in 1984. The blue fleet numbers have been hand painted and are not quite correct. The lettering ‘SHEFFIELD TRANSPORT DEPARTMENT’ should have been slightly further to the left. A touch up and varnish would have been sufficient and more appropriate. No records seem to exist as to why this was done. At the same time other valuable work was done in particular the various handrails, seat knobs and the track brake wheel were re-coated with plastic as they had been in various states of disrepair. The exterior driving mirrors were put back and the windscreen wipers made to work. The few remaining original moulded glass lamp covers were fitted downstairs and new flat frosted glass upstairs. New metal covers for the sidelights were fabricated and fitted. At sometime a few of the red top deck seats were recovered with synthetic material rather than leather. These are easily recognisable.
Roger noted that ‘Used Tickets’ was missing from both upper deck ticket boxes and ‘264’ was missing from the inside of the glass upstairs door panels at each end. If 264 ever goes back to the pre-war livery it should have ‘DON’T GET OFF UNTIL THE CAR STOPS’ on the blue panel on the side of each staircase.
From 1985 until 2010, 264 was stored either in the depots or latterly in the exhibition hall. Very occasionally it was brought out and posed for photographs and on one of these occasions the trolley pole was slightly bent in a shunting accident. This has not been repaired and 264 still has a trolley rope which was used in the 1970s for operational reasons at Crich but is not authentic.
264 now with grey roof, 189 and 46 on display in July 1995.

In storage in the exhibition hall in 2007.
189 and 264 together again in October 2008.
 Early in 2010 we learnt that 264 was to feature in a new display in the exhibition hall as a representative of 1930s tramcar design and that the chances of it ever being restored to service were remote. On Friday, 5th March 2010, 264 was taken to the wash bay and over the weekend it was given a thorough interior and exterior clean and taken back to the exhibition hall. Requests for the trolley to be straightened or for the trolley rope to be removed were rejected because no resources were available. Finally 264 is draped with cables, amplifiers and speakers for the exhibition sound system and the south end upper saloon door cannot be closed because of a power cable.
264 on its way for washing and cleaning on 5th March 2010.
Top deck interior showing plain glass lamp covers on 5th March 2010.
Bottom deck interior showing moulded glass lamp covers on 5th March 2010.  
 On 23rd July 2010 Richard organised a get together for the original sponsor group to recall and document 264’s story. They met Laura Waters, the newly appointed Collections Access Officer on the tram and she recorded most of the conversations for the Museum archive. This article is a direct result of that meeting.
David Johnson, Roger Mercer, Richard Lomas, John Marsh, Laura waters and Garth Tilt on 23rd July 2010.    

In the exhibition hall on 20th July 2011.

This article originally appeared in the January 2011 issue of the TMS Journal. I have re-published it with lots more photographs.