Tram as transformer

Piece of Invercargill heritage restored for Chch

HANNAH MCLEOD
Last updated 15:30 16/01/2014
Tram
Supplied
Invercargill Tramway’s Birney number 15 has been completely restored and can now be found gracing the streets of Christchurch.

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A piece of Invercargill's history is trundling around the Garden City, helping return a sense of normality to Christchurch.

Invercargill Tramways' tram Birney number 15 was rescued by Christchurch-based Heritage Tramways Trust from a Waimatuku property in 2010. They've faced the obvious earthquake-related challenges to be able to restore the tram.

A piece of Invercargill heritage rescued from a life as a sleepout has been restored to its former glory.

Invercargill Tramways’ tram Birney number 15 was rescued by Christchurch-based Heritage Tramways Trust from a Waimatuku property in 2010.

You can now find number 15 gliding through the streets of Christchurch on the newly reopened Tourist Tramway, with the old Invercargill City crest emblazoned on the side above the Invercargill Tramways logo.

The trust had originally planned to have the tram up and running by August 2011, but the Christchurch earthquakes saw the trust lose staff and face funding challenges.

Trust workshop manager Dave Carr said it was an emotional moment, seeing number 15 loaded on to a truck ready to be transported to her new job.

Five people worked fulltime on the tram, with about 10 to 15 others helping out over the past three years.

"There was a substantial amount of volunteer labour that went into the project," Mr Carr said.

The estimated cost for the project was $400,000, but with some delays and a few hiccups, the restoration cost about $500,000, he said.

Birney number 15 is just one of three trams operating on the tramway since its reopening last month, and is the only one not to be labelled as a Christchurch tram. ‘‘We were adamant that it would be restored precisely,’’ Mr Carr said.

There were three more trams at their workshop awaiting restoration, as well the body of Invercargill Tramways number 5, which is stored in the tram sheds at Ferrymead Heritage Park.

"Number 5 is one of the first series of trams built by Boon and Company in Christchurch, it is not on the restoration list at present but we are still collecting pieces that may be useful for its future restoration," Mr Carr said.

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- Invercargill Eye

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