Farewell to two old friends at Crich

Almost a week after the last paying guests of 2015 left Crich Tramway Village, the museum staged a special open day for Tramway Museum Society members and invited representatives of other closely associated organisations on Saturday 7th November. As well as some more novel attractions for the guests, the day also provided one final opportunity for the time being to ride on both Southampton 45 and Glasgow 812.

Following on from the well-received enthusiast event in September, this additional open day was a private celebration to mark sixty years since the formation of the Tramway Museum Society. A good number of trams ran throughout the day, whilst some of the more unusual vehicles in the collection housed inside the Exhibition Hall were opened up for inspection, including Edinburgh 35 and Leicester 76. There were items from the TMS archives on display, film shows and talks on the ongoing reconstruction of London County Council 1. There was also a special tram tour for members of both the TMS and the Light Rail Transit Association aboard Metropolitan 331, a tram which had been preserved and donated to the Society by the latter organisation’s founding member. The tram was adorned with a special headboard to mark the occasion, and some of the assembled dignitaries then posed for photographs with the car at Glory Mine.

Another London vehicle also featured prominently in the day’s events. The KLV, Croydon Tramlink 058, has become the first vehicle at Crich to be named after a Society member – the late John Gardner, whose contribution in the early years of the museum was invaluable, and who was known for his passion for rail-mounted cranes, making the KLV an appropriate choice to carry his name. The new name plaques were unveiled at a short ceremony by Bryan Scott of Scott’s Heavy Haulage, and 058 then operated along the tramway during the day.

However, for many the real stars of the day were two trams which were enjoying their final day in service before being withdrawn to await major overhauls. Southampton 45 rightly played a major role in the event due to its significance as the first tramcar to be acquired by founder TMS members. 45 has operated a number of ‘farewell’ trips, including a final day in public service in September at the enthusiasts ‘TMS 60’ event, but this was to be its final appearance for the foreseeable future. Glasgow 812 is another tram which has enjoyed a very active retirement at Crich and has seen fairly regular use during 2015, but it too is now well due for significant attention. Despite suggestions that it would be withdrawn immediately after the aforementioned ‘TMS 60’ event on 19th September, 812 did manage one further day of service on 30th October before bowing out on 7th November as part of the private event. No indication has been given as to what work is required to return 45 or 812 to regular service, or a possible timescale, but with a large queue of cars currently awaiting workshop space and funding it may be some time before either tram turns a wheel again making this an even more historic occasion.

Southampton 45 has carried passengers on just two days in 2015, and here it is seen outside the Red Lion public house on the first, this being the public 'TMS 60' event on September 19th.

Ahead of its official farewell outing, Glasgow 812's last day of normal public service was on 30th October during the Starlight event. The tram was captured at Glory Mine that evening with its saloon lights looking very inviting. (Photos x 2 by Andrew Waddington)

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11 Responses to Farewell to two old friends at Crich

  1. Ian Robinson says:

    I was pleased to visit Crich last Saturday as a guest of a member. The day went very well and I was able to ride on a number of trams. Particularly encouraging were the tram drivers who were eager to share their knowledge of the history of the car they were driving.
    Rita’s Tearooms needs some reorganisation as I would hate to imagine what would occur on a busy holiday day!
    What is most disapointing is the way Leeds 602 is displayed. I realise space is a premium but to see this important and excusive tram shunted to the back corner with little or no space around it to appreciate the tram or to take a decent photograph is a shame.
    Despite the retoric from the Museum about how important this vehicle is to the excusion of its rightful restoration to running order, it is sad to see how unloved it appears. I would hate to imagine the deterioration that is occuring as a static exhibit.
    The “powers that be” might consider a “Leeds Corner” where 602,107 (and 600) could be exibited alongside a decent history of the Leeds System and all of the cars that are preserved (with photographs) and their significance. Maybe the LTHS could help with this project.

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      On the plus side at least Leeds 602 is visible to the public unlike certain other significant trams – and being in the Exhibition Hall it shouldn’t deteriorate too badly compared with the trams that are stored in the depots. However considering all the fuss about preserving its integrity I do think it would be nice to offer some form of access to the interior of the car so that people can appreciate what is actually being preserved!

      Regarding Leeds horse car 107, whilst your idea is a nice one I’d much rather have the tram actually running as it has been fully restored yet has so far only operated for 2 days at the Middleton Railway and never at Crich.

    • Kev says:

      Perhaps we could have Glasgow, leeds, sheffield and Blackpool corners as well! Sadly whilst I do like the idea it wouldn’t fit with the current exhibition.

      • Andrew Waddington says:

        Its an interesting idea though, and perhaps food for thought at some point in the future when the Exhibition Hall needs a revamp again?

  2. Franklyn says:

    The real problem at Crich is all the political nonsense behind the scenes. It still seems to be a case of how wonderful London is compared to Leeds and Blackpool. Have you ever noticed how cars that have run in Blackpool return to Crich only to be stuffed and mounted. Or even worse, thrown in a damp and unloved old railway goods shed at Clay Cross! Has anyone seen Dreadnought 59 recently?

    The whole Leeds 602 thing is an utter disgrace. It is most certainly NOT in anything like it’s original condition and any originality certainly didn’t count for much when the drilled screw holes in it to fit unprototypical coloured lights while at Crich some years ago.

    What a lot of people don’t know is a Blackpool Centenary car should have gone to Crich many years ago. When Blackpool 651’s experimental AC driven bogies were replaced with normal ones and the car renumbered 648, one member offered to have East Lancashire Coachbuilders construct a 9th body, which would have been 1 window bay shorter at each end to accommodate some of the clearances at Crich, so this unusual technology could be demonstrated in a modern working vehicle. However a certain board member didn’t like the idea of the other chap having Britain’s last traditional tram constructed, so made damn sure it never happened. I suspect this is the real reason why 648 (the body of which was originally 651) was once again turned away a couple of years ago.

    Space was always quoted as the problem, but the NATIONAL Tramway Museum then went on to collect cars from Germany and other continental countries, which have absolutely nothing to do with the national story of tramways whatsoever. Meanwhile the very important Leeds 602, one of only three VAMBAC cars in the world and the only one at Crich is another vehicle to be brushed aside.

    Maybe someone from Crich will come on here to set the record completely straight. But I bet they don’t!

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      Editorial Note: The above comment has been slightly amended due to some remarks of a more personal nature, however the main points have been retained. AW.

    • Phill says:

      “Have you ever noticed how cars that have run in Blackpool return to Crich only to be stuffed and mounted.”

      How true. 167 ran last year and is now dumped at Clay Cross, upside down. Cardiff 131 was freshly restored, had a few days use rail scrubbing, now it is a chicken shed on a farm in Leicestershire. Oporto 273 is now a transport cafe on the A302 near Swindon. And of course Box 40 returned to Crich last year, only to be teleported into a parallel dimension. What a disgrace.

  3. Steve says:

    I am always interested in reading “Franklyn’s” posts in the hope that sometime I might find him saying something positive about trams. As a Member of the TMS who was around at the time I find his comments show a regrettably lack of accuracy about the museum and could be deemed as a slur on some board members whose hard (and FREE) work is only noticed and commented on when things go wrong. Firstly I do not intend to get into a debate about financing tram car restoration. What we do need to remember was that although we have always had a Leeds/ Sheffield/ Glasgow and Blackpool fleet, London was only represented by MET 331 and LT 1. it is a credit to the hard work of the LCCTT that we have the London cars that we do (106/1622/159).

    Where he does show a total lack of understanding is with his comments on 651/648 as it could not be further from the truth. Blackpool 651 was an experimental car which had issues. It was acquired by Blackpool and refitted into 648 with the important and unique equipment saved. Yes there were rumours of building a shortened body for it at crich, but there was no support for such a move, it WAS though intended that eventually 648 might become available and come to the Museum, the equipment could then be refitted. It is interesting to note that of all the class 648 had the least major alterations alongside 641. We now come to 2011 and the modernisation 648 was offered to the Museum but was turned down, it should be noted that the main reason being the shortage of accommodation. It should also be noted that a respected member of the European Tramway Community did try and raise funds for it to come the costs were too high. What is also important to understand is that by declining the various Blackpool cars on offer ( and there were a few) no trams were scrapped and in fact are regularly in service as part of the Heritage fleet. Needless to say these are my personal comments, although I am sure other members of the TMS would agree with MY recollection of events.

    • Big G says:

      Steve has dealt well with most of ‘Franklyn’s’ paragraphs. Regarding the penultimate, would ‘Franklyn’ also suggest that the NATIONAL Gallery should get rid of all its works by non-British arists, or that the BRITISH Museum should divest itself of its artefacts of foreign origin?

    • Phill says:

      I’d not heard the tale of the centenaries before. But I do wonder what on earth the merit was meant to be of knocking up a one off sort-of copy of a brand new tram?

      There was a fund for a new depot building to house extra Blackpool cars, which attracted about zero interest.

  4. Mark Andrew Pardoe says:

    These conversations are quite interesting but, perhaps, don’t belong to a news page. Are there message boards concerning trams? If not, is it possible for the Honourable Webmaster of this site to add a message board?

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