The news that the Council & Railtrack are going to experiment with lifting a section of Weymouth Tramway is of interest. Let me add a few of my thoughts on this issue.

1. Most people would I think agree that the Tramway rails are a hazard to cyclists, motorcyclists and even possibly motorists. There have been recorded accidents involving these 3 groups.

2. Everyone should also agree that the Tramway is a vital part of Weymouth’s history. It has served an important and almost unique purpose in peace and war. It is therefore an outstanding piece of industrial archaeology.

3. The chances of it providing a transport function in the future are remote. Weymouth is no longer a passenger port and while many have advanced ideas about a leisure tramway attraction none have come to pass. Many have foundered on the basis that it doesn’t really connect anywhere much and therefore would not generate significant tourist traffic.

4. The cost of reinstating the tramway would I understand be exorbitant. The surface of the rails, their levels, the points and signalling have all badly deteriorated.

So what should be done?

It seems to me that the Council need to prepare two documents to help decision making.

Firstly a Conservation Strategy for the Tramway. This should examine its importance in terms of its history, what could be retained as a historical artefact eg the section round the Loop, an area at the Harbour Station, the section beside B&Q -and how they should be treated; whether and how any removed sections should be marked or otherwise recorded e.g. by placing lines of pavoirs to mark the route; and how the history of the Tramway should be explained to visitors e.g. by immediately, erecting interpretation boards at such places as the Harbour Station ( and the Council can and should knock that down any time!) , the Cargo Stage, the Loop etc. Secondly it should include a vision for some longer term proposals for artefacts for visitors to see e.g. a static shunting engine e.g. at the Loop ; a couple of ‘Boat Train’ Carriages ( possibly used as dining cars) at the Harbour Station as part of the Ferry Terminal redevelopment.

Secondly they should also prepare a Risk Appraisal examining sensibly and pragmatically which area of the Tramway are really a hazard to road users of all categories and which areas could and should be left. Also what could be done to reduce any risks identified.

Only once this work is done should the Council come to a decision about the future of the Tramway.

Richard Burgess