FOR almost half a century they provided thousands of Southampton residents with a convenient way of travelling to shops, offices and factories.

But the electric trams which linked parts of the city were replaced by buses in the late 1940s and only a handful are thought to have survived.

Now transport enthusiasts are invited to visit the Solent Sky Museum in Albert Road South to view the progress of a tram restoration scheme.

A small group of volunteers are returning three of the iconic vehicles to their former glory.

A museum spokesman said: "The restoration of these trams has until recently been carried out in premises with very limited access by the public, but in late 2020 the trams were moved to a new workshop adjacent to Solent Sky."

The vehicles will be on display at a two-day event taking place at the museum on October 9-10.

"This will be the first opportunity for most people to see the trams being restored at the museum and talk to the restoration team. The event will also include a dozen model tram layouts and exhibits, five local societies and several trade stands," said the spokesman.

"There have been a number of model tramway exhibitions - as opposed to model railway exhibitions - around the country over the years.

"But this is the first dedicated model tramway event that we know of to be held in Southampton."

Southampton's first electric tram routes were opened in 1900 and the network continued to expand. The vehicles were bought from other parts of the UK before a Portswood engineering works was used to design and build trams for the city.

During the Second World War fuel rationing meant they took on a bigger role and were painted grey to make them harder to spot by enemy aircraft.

After the war buses began to replace some of the city's trams and the service stopped altogether on New Year’s Eve 1949.

One of the vehicles being restored at Solent Sky was found on a private estate in Alresford in the 1970s. It entered service in 1923 and had a specially designed roof built to enable it to squeeze through the Bargate.