Tramway Home

I went to visit a doctor in north Cheshire this week. Thankfully, it was a social call, he once being a young man whom I taught GCSE and A-level. I caught the omnibus to Manchester and then the tram to Altrincham. I have not been on a tram for 20 years, and the last occasion was in Prague. Novelty factor aside, I think tram travel is rather marvellous. It has many of the benefits of a railway but without the daunting stations and frequent cancellations.

When I was growing up, trams were considered old fashioned. My grandmother would point out to me the old tram stops she remembered from the fifties; the only British tram network I knew was Blackpool’s, and that glories in being antiquated, although it was useful in killing off Coronation Street villains such as Alan Bradley. Manchester’s second tram network (the first, like many others, having been ripped up to make way for King Car) is certainly modern. It struck me that we have a natural propensity to reject the past and while always seeking to modernise. Often, however, the replacement is inferior to that which went before it, or the things we destroy we learn to regret when they are gone. This is not just the story of British trams and lost railways, but the entire human race. We were given paradise by God, but our forbears did not remain there, preferring the arid deserts and weary plains of godlessness. This Christmas, it is time to come back. Not just to decorations and carols, but to the God from whom we have been running all these years.

It is time to come home.

Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,

calling for you and for me;

see, on the portals he's waiting and watching,

watching for you and for me.


Come home, come home;

you who are weary come home;

earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,

calling, O sinner, come home!

-W.L. Thompson, 1880