This vertical boiler tram was built by Beyer Peacock & Company in 1886 for use on the Manchester, Bury, Rochdale and Oldham Tramways.
It was one of 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 locomotives 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.
The tramway ceased operations in May 1904 after which it was 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.
It remained in use until February 1954 and in September of that year it was presented to the British Transport Commission and stored at Crewe Locomotive Works and other locations for a time.
It spent some time at the Dinting Railway Centre in the 1970s and 1980s where it was dismantled, and some restoration work was undertaken. Some time later it was offered to Crich Tramway Museum where it was placed in off-site storage in 2002. Since then a start was made on compiling an inventory of components as a prelude to any future restoration project.
It remains unrestored and dismantled whilst work continues to catalogue the existing parts and identify the missing components.
The photographs reproduced below were kindly provided by the National Tramway Museum at Crich. 2734 may be depicted in one or more of the photographs bit there is no record of which vehicles are shown.