Its been all change at the Crich Tramway Village for the special events aimed at enthusiasts in 2009 with the merger of Tramathon and Enthusiasts Day to make the imaginatively titled Enthusiasts Tram Event. The event took place on 5th July 2009 as usual promised to be “dream date for tram enthusiasts” but was it? British Trams Online Webmaster Gareth Prior reports from the event.
The Enthusiasts Tram Event at the Crich Tramway Village – home of the National Tramway – is in effect a slightly retitled Enthusiasts Day event with a few elements of Tramathon thrown in for good measure (lots of trams in service). Over the past few years I have personally been a little critical of events at Crich (with the exception of the excellent 50th Anniversary events back in May) with the same trams out event after event but fortunately there were some different trams featured at this event.
Upon arrival at Crich shortly after 1000 the two main operational Works Cars were being taken out of depot to undertake demonstration runs throughout the morning. First out was Sheffield 330 which, in the early morning rain, was stabled for a time at the Bowes Lyon Bridge and this was soon followed by the star of 2009 – Cardiff 131. 131 was also briefly stabled outside the Depot entrance before it too embarked on its demonstration runs.
With the Works Cars out the way, preparations could be made for the passenger trams to enter service. The idea during the day was that there would be many different trams in service with changeovers at lunchtime so a wide variety could be enjoyed by the paying public. The morning service started with Oporto 273, Liverpool 869, Blackpool 40, Paisley 68 (which initially came out in light rain), London Transport 1622, Chesterfield 7 and Sheffield 74 and they were joined mid-morning by Metropolitan 331. The public service commenced at around 1030 and carried on operating without incident for most of the morning.
At around 1130 the next “event” of the day was due to happen at Wakebridge – a “photo opportunity”. No further information was given as to what the photo opportunity was to be and it turned out that it had been arranged that a large number of the trams operating on the mainline during the morning would reach Wakebridge at the same time allowing for five trams at once to be photographed. The five trams which met were 1622, 74 and 68 (travelling towards Glory Mine) and 869 and 40 (travelling to Town End). After these trams had gone on their merry way there were also opportunities to catch a few more multiples on memory card.
Once the morning demonstration runs of the Works Cars had finished the chance was taken to display 131 and 330 in front of the Workshop along with Blackpool Electric Locomotive 717 for a Works Car photo opportunity. The sun had now come out after the earlier rain and it was in a good position to catch some good shots of these three trams (it seems that 330 and 131 love being in the limelight as at the 50th Anniversary events the sun was just right for them as well!)
From lunchtime the trams which had been out in the morning started to return to Depot to allow the crews to have a break. Once many of the crews had finished their lunch they were allocated a different tram with Leeds 399, Southampton 45, Johannesburg 60 (after a shunting move with Glasgow 22 having to be moved out the way first) and Blackpool and Fleetwood 2 joining in the fun. 273, 1622 and 7 remained in service for the rest of the day whilst 331 was also in service for a little while longer.
Once all the shunting of service trams was completed attention could be turned to the two photo opportunities of the afternoon – Eastern European and Tramway Beginnings.
The first tram to be moved for these line-ups was Sheffield 15, which was at the front of the Exhibition Hall (the doors having been opened to allow further photo opportunities of trams during the morning). This tram was to feature in the Tramways Beginnings Photo Opportunity but that was for later so 15 was temporarily put into the main Depot. Next to be moved was Prague 180 (which had also made an appearance at Enthusiasts 2008). 180 was dragged out by “Postman Pat” onto the Traverser and was then moved into Depot V to be displayed alongside fellow Eastern European tram Halle 902 – and so the “Eastern European Photo Opportunity” had been prepared.
With cameras turned towards 180 and 902 the hardworking Workshop crew turned their attention to the “Tramway Beginnings” display. 15 had already been moved out of the Exhibition Hall and next to be moved was Oporto 9 – the oldest tram in the permanent Crich collection, dating from 1873. This tram usually resides on the same track of the Exhibition Hall as 15 and 180 and so moving it out for the display was no great hardship, although it does carry a notice saying that it must not be moved without permission. The tram – making a passing resemblance to a banana with its body shape and colour! – was moved onto the Traverser and was then pulled and pushed (no need for “Postman Pat” here!) onto the correct road on the Depot Fan.
The doors of the first part of the Exhibition Hall – the section with the “early period” trams – were also opened and the curtain drawn back to allow access to the third tram for the line-up – Chesterfield 8. The dummy horse this is normally hitched up to was removed and the tram was dragged onto the Traverser and then into its required position on the Depot Fan.
The final piece in the jigsaw for the “Tramway Beginnings Photo Opportunity” was visiting horse tram Cardiff 21. This was taken out of Depot V and was then displayed just in front of the Traverser. 15 was also moved from the Depot and placed on the Depot Fan. And with that the excellent photo opportunity was done and the cameras clicked away!
You would think that that was all the excitement you could fit in to an afternoon but it wasn’t! Although no further trams were got out when it came to putting those which were out away there were some positional changes. 15 was put into the main Depot as it was required for the Edwardian Weekend the following week and then for the main excitement. Instead of returning Cardiff 21 to Depot V, it was moved on the Traverser into the “early trams” exhibition in the Exhibition Hall and was hitched up to the dummy horse. Oporto 9 and Prague 180 were then moved to their former positions in the Exhibition Hall which just left poor old homeless Chesterfield 8. This tram was also moved on the Traverser into the main Exhibition Hall in the position formerly occupied by Sheffield 15. With that the doors of the Exhibition Hall and of Depot V were shut and for the rest of the day attention could be turned to the service trams.
After the morning of the Enthusiasts Tram Event it seemed as if it was going to be a disappointing event at Crich with no rare trams displayed on the Depot Fan and only the Works Cars of any note being out and about. However, the afternoon certainly changed that with an excellent horse car line-up including two trams which have rarely seen the light of day in recent years – Chesterfield 8 and Oporto 9. In addition loan tram Cardiff 21 joined in the fun and even managed to find a new home in the process!
All in all it was an enjoyable day thanks to the horse trams and full credit has to go to both the organisers of the event and those who made it possible!
The official British Trams Online rating (out of 5) for the event is…
Trams in Service
Berlin 3006 (a few journeys late afternoon)
Blackpool 40 (morning)
Blackpool and Fleetwood 2 (afternoon)
Chesterfield 7 (all day)
Johannesburg 60 (afternoon)
Leeds 399 (afternoon)
Liverpool 869 (morning)
London Transport 1622 (all day)
Metropolitan 331 (late morning and early afternoon)
Oporto 273 (all day)
Paisley 68 (morning)
Sheffield 74 (morning)
Southampton 45 (afternoon)
Also out on Main Line:
Cardiff 131 (morning demonstration runs)
Sheffield 330 (morning demonstration runs)
Display on Depot Fan:
Works Cars: Blackpool 717, Cardiff 131 and Sheffield 330
Horse Cars: Cardiff 21, Chesterfield 8, Oporto 9 and Sheffield 15
Eastern European in Depot V: Halle 902 and Prague 180