Manchester, Bury, Rochdale, Oldham steam tram No. 84

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Photo: Jim Dignan

The first mechanically powered trams to challenge the early dominance of horse trams relied on steam traction, though they were prevented by law from operating on public highways until 1879.  A change in the law in that year opened up a short-lived boom in steam tramway-building during the 1880s, a decade in which no fewer than 45 new steam-powered tramways were opened.

One of these was the Manchester, Bury, Rochdale and Oldham Tramway, which opened an extensive steam-powered tramway covering a number of urban areas to the north and east of Manchester in 1883.  Unfortunately it never reached Manchester as this would have involved running over the existing horse tramways of the Manchester Carriage & Tramways Company, and the necessary permission was not forthcoming.  Nevertheless for a time following its completion in 1884, the company operated the largest steam tramway undertaking in the world (at 33¼ miles).

MBRO 84 was one of a batch of four similar steam tram engines to be ordered from Beyer, Peacock (numbered 83 to 86).  These four locos were part of a larger order of 26 new locomotives that were purchased from the same company in 1886.  By this stage, however, the tramway operation was experiencing severe financial difficulties and less than a year later the company had crashed, leaving Beyer, Peacock as the largest creditor.


Type of tram
Steam powered tram locomotive
Seating capacity
Date built
Manufacturer of body
Beyer, Peacock & Co.
Manufacturer of truck
4’ 8½”
Gear drive from 2 cylinders, 7¾” bore x 11” stroke
Steam regulator
Current collector
Withdrawn from service

No later than 11th May 1904, when the tramway ceased to operate.
Withdrawn from service as an industrial steam locomotive in February 1954

Subsequent history

Sold to Ince Forge (Wigan) and converted into a works shunter, which entailed the removal of most of the adaptations that were required for operation on the public, and the fitting of railway-style buffers.

Restoration history

Removed from Ince Forge on 29 September 1954 and presented to the British Transport Commission. Stored at Crewe Locomotive Works and other locations for a time.
Dismantled and some restoration work undertaken while at Dinting Railway Centre during the 1970s and 1980s.
Offered to Crich and placed in off-site storage in 2002. A start has been made on compiling an inventory of components as a prelude to any future restoration project.

Current status
In storage in unrestored and dismantled condition.
Date started operating at Crich
Total mileage covered at Crich
Current location
Off-site storage facility
Future plans

Work is ongoing to catalogue the existing parts and identify any missing components as an essential prelude to any future restoration project.

  • 1886 – 1904Operational on original tramway
  • 1904 – 1954Operational as an industrial steam locomotive in a works (foundry)
  • 1954 – 1970sIn storage in various locations around the country
  • 1970s – 1991Dismantled and some restoration work undertaken at Dinting Railway Centre
  • 1991 – 2002In storage at MoSI premises in Manchester
  • 2002 –In storage

Crich Tramway Village is a brand name for the National Tramway Museum (Accredited with Arts Council England), solely owned and operated by The Tramway Museum Society, incorporated in England with liability by guarantee (no. 744229). Registered charity number 313615. Our ICO number is Z6700136.