Leeds 399 to light up Halloween at Crich

The Crich workshop team have created a very special extra attraction for this year’s Starlight event at the museum, by decorating Leeds 399 with illuminations. The tram has received a large number of coloured light bulbs and will be one of the stars of the six-day event which runs from Monday 26th October right up to and including Halloween evening itself, Saturday 31st October.

On Saturday 24th October 399 was in the workshop for routine servicing when volunteers added the decorations to give a very useful high capacity enclosed illuminated tram which is sure to prove popular during the event week. The lights surround the upper deck windows and have also been fixed to much of the tram’s beading, on its rocker panels, the dash panels and fenders – not bad for a day’s work! The result is a stunning looking temporary illuminated tram created with fairly minimal outlay, and the efforts made to create it deserve to be applauded. Although the Starlight event is generally geared towards families, hopefully enthusiasts will also find the rare opportunity to see trams running in the dark at Crich appealing and the added novelty of Leeds 399 in its temporary new role as an illuminated car will encourage a few extra visitors to the Tramway Village.

It is expected that 399 will be a first choice for service over the six days the event runs for, along with Blackpool cars Toastrack 166 and Boat 236 (weather permitting of course!), giving a potential pool of three illuminated cars for visitors to enjoy. It is hoped to run at least four trams all week with up to six in service on the Friday and Saturday.

Besides the trams, there will be lots of other activities taking place at what looks like being one of the most ambitious events seen at Crich in recent times, which has justifiably been re-branded as the ‘Starlight Spectacular’. Each of the six days will be boosted by a craft fair in the Exhibition Hall and special lighting effects around the village site, whilst local bird rescue organisation Woodie’s Wings will be bringing some of their owls and parrots along.

On Monday 26th to Wednesday 28th October, young visitors can take a tram ride with a Harry Potter lookalike, whilst from Thursday 29th to Saturday 31st October the village will be invaded by the Cybermen from Dr Who with a David Tennant lookalike also present, along with characters from the hugely successful Disney film Frozen, and merchandise from the movie will be on sale at the gift shop along with character cupcakes at a separate stall. On these three days, children in Halloween or Frozen fancy dress will be admitted free of charge. Finally, local actor Rik Makarem, who plays Nikhil in the TV soap opera Emmerdale, will be a special guest on the Saturday judging a pumpkin competition and he will also be available to meet and greet visitors between 1600 and 1800hrs. There will also be a folk band and a street entertainer present on the Saturday, and some local authors will be signing books on some of the days. The full details of each day can be found on the events page at www.tramway.co.uk.

The last tram of the day will depart from Town End at 1900 from Monday to Wednesday inclusive, and at 2000 on Thursday to Saturday, with the site closing one hour later. Naturally the fact that British summertime is now officially over means that it will be dark much earlier than it previously was, so there will be plenty of chance to enjoy the unusual twilight scenes. Hopefully the efforts being made by the museum will ensure that the 2015 season ends in impressive fashion, and an already popular event will see a bumper turnout thanks to this year’s innovations.

A sneak preview of Leeds 399 with its temporary illuminations seen providing a bit of sparkle inside the Crich workshop on an otherwise dull autumn day, whilst being prepared the Starlight Spectacular event. (Photo by Peter Whiteley)


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11 Responses to Leeds 399 to light up Halloween at Crich

  1. Christopher Callan says:

    Fantastic. Really does show how a simple low cost idea can be implemented. Pleasing to see the Starrlight concept expand.

  2. steve crompton says:

    Although I’m not aware that 399 was ever one, Leeds had a fair number of illuminated trams over the years to celebrate special events and occasions. Not the least, but certainly the last, was the tram procession from the city to Cross Gates, Halton and Temple Newsam on November 7th 1959 (should that be known as 7/11?) the systems final day.

    In addition, for some years at Christmas coloured lamps were substituted for a number of internal bulbs giving those who sat beneath them, apparently, an unusual countenance.

    However, the existence of modern electrics has, seemingly, enabled the workshop staff to create an external display the likes of which couldn’t even have been imagined in former years.

    Well done!

  3. Franklyn says:

    Remember: Crich has had at least 3 proper illuminated cars over the years, all of which they have unwisely scrapped!

    Blackpool standard 158 was one of two to carry illuminations in Blackpool. One of the feature cars (either gondolla or lifeboat, I can’t remember which) was also taken to Crich and scrapped. Then there’s the Sheffield generator car, which carried illuminations at some point in Sheffield.

    But at least 399 looks better that Chesterfield 7 did in it’s ‘recruitment’ guise, which looked like it had been decorated with double sided tape and old bedsheets by failed Blue Peter presenters!

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      Out of interest, do you ever actually have anything positive to say?

    • Christopher Callan says:

      Now play nice Franklyn. Not satisfied with winding up Blackpool supporters you seemingly turned your attention to poking Crich…. Regarding the Recruitment Tram. Suspect either route they went down they would have not satisfied you. Spend thousands and you slaughter them for lavishing so much on single season project. Happen to think it was broadly a successful scheme with lot of positive responses to it.

    • John says:

      That’s what recruitment cars were! It’s supposed to look like a blue Peter project.
      If you don’t like anything the Tramways do why are you even bothering to post?

  4. Bob Wardle says:

    The Sheffield illuminated car, 349, was not used as a generator car in its home city, but for its last ten years as a stores car and was specially decorated for Last Tram Week in October 1960. It was only a generator car for a period at the start of electric services at Crich beginning in 1964, and its much altered and weakened bodywork was scrapped as unfit for further use. Its truck lives on under Chesterfield car 7. 349 was not originally slated for preservation but proved irresistible in its illuminated guise to TMS members, apparently, although in the end they could not afford to buy the lights as well!

    • Steve Hyde says:

      To add the Bob’s information above, 158 and the Lifeboat were both bought for spares and parts for projects. I believe the truck from the Lifeboat went under Derby 1. They also had Blackpool rail grinder No 1 as an illuminated car for a couple of August Bank Holiday Transport Extravaganzas. If I remember correctly it inherited the generator equipment from 349 which consisted of a bus engine and trolleybus motor along with the necessary switchgear.

      • Steve Hyde says:

        Apologies, I think the Blackpool rail grinder we are talking about may have been No 2.

        • Paul says:

          Correct Steve,

          It is Railgrinder 2 that was at Crich and is now in store at Clay Cross…

          Railgrinder 1 became 752 and is now at Heaton Park where it moved to direct from Blackpool in 2008.

          Interesting to note that both of the Railgrinders have carried illuminations during their post-Blackpool careers… 752 borrowed some of the lights previously fitted to Bolton 66 in 2009/10…

      • Steve says:

        Agreed Steve, What we need to remember is that in the early days there was a need for equipment. I agree that the Lifeboat should have gone under Derby 1 but there was then a game of musical trucks. The Railgrinder for a while used the sheffield truck when it was a generator, but that truck is now under Sheffield 74. The truck from the railgrinder was dismantled and parts ended up in 765. Basically had the trams NOT been bought or used then there would have been a few trams lacking equipment.

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