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Thorite ensures historic trams operate safely

Wednesday 17th January 2007

Leading compressed air products and systems specialists, Thorite, recently carried out a Written Scheme of Examination on the pneumatic system of the Shipley Glen Cable Tramway, which is located near Saltaire in West Yorkshire.

The Tramway is the oldest working cableway example in the UK, (cliff lifts excepted). It dates from 1895 and was designed to carry local Bradford workers almost a quarter of a mile through Walker Wood to the attractions of the Shipley Glen beauty spot, the woodland ride providing a pleasant and popular alternative to a steep path.

Thorite's involvement centred on tests and checks of the Tramway's compressed air system. This operates an automatic emergency brake which acts as a fail-safe device should the trams attempt to travel too quickly. The system also activates an air brake which is used to park the tram cars.

The Tramway has a gauge of 20", a maximum gradient of 1 in 7 and comprises two tracks with a pair of trams on each line. The motive power was originally a Suction Gas Engine, but over the years the Tramway has been operated by town gas, then oil in 1915, before being converted to electricity in 1928.

The Tramway is now run entirely by 15 volunteers and unpaid Trustees and will celebrate its 112th Anniversary in May this year, when patrons can ride for the original 1895 fare of a single pre-decimalisation penny to go up, and a halfpenny to come down!

The HSE visited the site and requested the production of an independent Engineering Report highlighting work to be carried out to keep the Tramway in peak condition, which has now been compiled. With the hard work of volunteers and Trustees, plus specialist local companies like Thorite, the Tramway should continue quietly climbing and descending the beautiful woodland valley for many more years to come.

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