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Old Bournemouth tram sparks craftsman’s inspiration

Amy Brice

Tram office

Richard Lee, co-owner and founder of Dorset-based master hutmakers, Plankbridge, has converted an original Bournemouth tram into an office and design studio. Tram 113, which once formed part of the busy Bournemouth Corporation Tramline, transporting people around the town from 1926-1936, now offers Richard a quiet and reflective space within Plankbridge’s Piddlehinton-based workshop to design shepherd’s huts, cabins and other moveable spaces.

Piecing together the history and heritage of the tramways, Richard discovered that tram 113 is one of only 13 known trams to have survived since the closing down of the tram service in 1936. The remaining trams have inspired others in Dorset and beyond, with one converted into a garden room in Swanage and number 106 rebuilt for use on Seaton Tramways. Tram number 85 currently resides in the Museum of Electricity in Christchurch, which locals have been campaigning to have reopened since its closure in 2012.

Richard explains;

“We bought the tram from a farmer in Milton Abbas, when we were there looking at a shepherd’s hut to restore. The tram was in need of a good home and I instantly saw its potential as a useful modern space. Many of the original features are still intact, such as the ‘please don’t spit in the carriage’ sign, so I wanted to preserve these moments of the past while adapting the interior into a useful office space without impacting on the original structure. One day I would like to tidy up the exterior and perhaps recreate the sign writing on the sides, but it is already providing a great space for me to retreat to, with all new Plankbridge shepherd’s hut designs now coming through tram 113’s doors.” 

For more information about Plankbridge Hutmakers visit www.plankbridge.com.