The historic St James tram and bus depot will open to the public for guided tours next month.
The St James Residents’ Association (SJRA), in conjunction with Northampton Borough Council and Church’s shoes, has announced that the site will open to the public on Saturday May 3 from 10am.
Last year SJRA launched a campaign to protect the historic buildings from demolition and held talks with council leader David Mackintosh and Church’s CEO Stephen Etheridge.
Northampton Borough Council stepped in to buy the premises from First Group and Church’s committed to preserving as much of the buildings as possible to create an iconic, state of the art shoe manufacturing facility.
Graham Croucher, secretary of SJRA and event organiser, said: “Church’s will shortly begin environmental clean-up work within the building before building conversion work gets under way.
This is an excellent opportunity for those interested in the town’s historical buildings to see what lies behind the closed doors. St James tram and bus depot is one of those buildings that has always been there, but few realise what is inside and that it was the former home to, originally, the towns trams and then the towns red buses.”
The first building opened in 1904 as the town’s new electrified tramway depot and had six roads, and an outside road to accommodate the new trams.
It gradually expanded over the years to incorporate the advent of the motor bus in 1923 and was enlarged to what we see today in 1939, with what then was one of the largest unsupported roofs in the country.
The original parts of the building still have tram lines and ornate round windows that would have been the original outside walls.
On display within the parking area will be Northampton Corporation Transport Memorabilia and visitors will have the chance to record their memories of the red buses, by writing on the memories board.
Northampton Corporation Tramways, and its successors Northampton Corporation Transport and latterly Northampton Transport Ltd, were renown throughout the country for efficient working practices and high standards.
Mr Croucher said: “The stars of the show, will be what the garage was created for; the red buses! On display will be 1947 Daimler CVG6 154, 1965 Daimler CVG6 246, and 1968 Daimler CVG6 267 which is a celebrity in its own right, as this is the last open platform bus ever built for the home market. Other visiting vintage vehicles and buses are welcome to attend and are welcomed.
“Visitors are welcome to come and have a look at the displays but will not be able to walk round the depot unaccompanied for safety reasons, so booking on a tour is advisable.”
The tours on the open day on Saturday May 3 will take place at 11am, 12.30pm, 2pm, and 3.30pm. Sturdy footwear should be worn as this is a former working building and maintenance has not been carried out for a while.
Admission is on the basis that individuals take full responsibility for their own safety.
Mr Croucher added: “The assembled vehicles will be the last ever buses to leave the garage itself, and as such is the end of a glorious era. This is a once only opportunity to savour a vital piece of the town’s history, before it starts a bright new future.”
To book a tour email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07841678018.
Visit www.stjamesra.org.uk/nctgaragetour.html for more information.