Hopes of rattle and hum revival derailed

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HARTLEPOOL town centre is set to hum once again with the rattle of trams.

That was the confident opening to Mail reporter Paul Wenham’s story in March 1994, which said the project “should be up and running a year from now”.

There was more good news, as although the Edwardian-style two-deckers were to be built in the Midlands, North-east firms would provide many of the components, creating jobs for the area.

The scheme was the brainchild of John Parry, chief executive of Parry Associates.

He told the Mail: “Every opportunity will be taken to use companies from the area in the more expensive parts of the scheme – the track laying and electrification.

“The project should create employment in the area.”

The tram link, which was expected to cost around £600,000, was intended to run along Church Street, taking passengers between the revamped Middleton Grange shopping centre and the new marina.

The Mail reported that Mr Parry’s company had enjoyed 20 years of success in production engineering before developing the idea of a light tramway system.

“Engineers said there would be a return to electric transport,” said Mr Parry.

“Only the largest cities such as Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester, can afford the large super-tram systems.

“Ours are lighter, smaller and more compact. They also fit in better in the environment of a smaller town.”

The article also included a photo of the type of tram to be used, which could carry 25 people, and an artist’s impression of the proposed system, with a tram trundling up Church Street in the direction of Christ Church.

It also suggested there would be a working demonstration later in 1994, though it is not known if this ever took place. Perhaps a reader remembers?

The trams would have been the first in town since 1927, when the service operated since 1899 by Hartlepool Electric Tramways was replaced by trolley buses and motor buses.

Before that the Headland and Church Street had been linked by steam-driven trams, though this was not a financial success, closing after seven years in 1891, with the track surviving to be used by the electric trams.

Contact Andrew Levett by emailing andrew.levett@northeast-press.co.uk or write to him at Hartlepool Mail, New Clarence House, Wesley Square, Hartlepool, TS24 8BX.