The final – and the one everyone had been waiting for – event of the Crich50 celebrations was held on Sunday 24th May and was the Tramway Museum Society Members’ Day (although anyone could go to the Museum!) The publicity for this event promised a run of Sheffield 15 with GMJ, a cavalcade using all available trams and a capital cities line-up on the Depot Fan. British Trams Online Webmaster Gareth Prior reports.
Over the past few years enthusiasts have bemoaned the fact that events at the Crich Tramway Village have not been as good as they were in the past. But let me start by telling you there is no need for any negativity in this report after a well organised and enjoyable event – helped in no small part by the warm, sunny weather (yes, you are reading that right – it was warm and sunny at Crich!)
Upon arriving at the Museum just after 1000, preparations were being made to start the public tram service half an hour later. A six tram service was to be offered for most of the day (although this was due to be suspended for a time during the afternoon to enable the cavalcade to be formed). The trams used for this service were Blackpool 166, Glasgow 22, Glasgow 812, Leeds 345, London Transport 1622 and Paisley 68.
Diesel locomotive GMJ (or was it Ted!) was stabled in front of the Workshop extension, waiting for its starring role a little later on whilst Blackpool Electric Loco 717 was also out on the Depot Fan. Another works car was the next tram on the move with Sheffield 330 being moved from Depot V onto the Depot Fan and this was soon followed by fellow Sheffield tram 189. 189 is considered to be a important tram in the finding of the Crich site as the TMS were desperate to find somewhere to house the tram as the previous arrangements were coming to an end. This tram is usually kept in the Exhibition Hall but had been moved into Depot V earlier in the week so it could take its starring role in the morning’s events.
189 was moved on the Traverser and was stabled in front of road 11 of the Depot whilst still on the Traverser. 330 was stabled just in front of 189 by the Exhibition Hall entrance, allowing good photographic opportunities of the two south Yorkshire tramcars.
The next shunting saw the initial movement of horse car Sheffield 15. This tram had been in the Workshop for preparation work to ensure it was ready for its starring role. As horse trams are fairly light in weight (with no motors etc.) the shunting of 15 was undertaken with man power! GMJ – which was carrying the name Ted on one side (Ted being the name of the diesel shunter which undertook the initial inspection of the site back in 1959 along with a quarry truck) – then moved from in front of the Workshop extension and was coupled to the back of 15. GMJ then propelled 15 out of the Yard, and the pair reversed down to Town End where they met with Leeds 399 (which had been stabled at Town End) – the first passenger tram on site. After GMJ had run round 15 (so it was at the northern end) – and after a delay caused by the lateness of some of the invited original 1959 members who were to ride on the tram – the pair then set off (at around 1200) towards Wakebridge.
With GMJ and 15 having disappeared up the line there was more activity in the Depot confines with 189 being returned to Depot V. Cardiff 131 was then bought out for the first time on the day from the Workshop where it had been receiving attention the previous day after a slight controller problem. The opportunity was taken to display 131 alongside Sheffield 330 – the two water cars in the Crich fleet – in front of the Exhibition Hall. The end Exhibition Hall doors were also opened (with the exception of those by the early tramcar section) enabling photo opportunities of those trams incarcerated inside. This included Douglas 1 and Newcastle 102 which don’t often get to see daylight.
After 15 and GMJ returned to the Depot attention turned to preparing the trams for the afternoon Cavalcade (originally due to take place at 1400 but delayed to 1430 because of the early delays – it was then delayed further). The most ambitious Cavalcade ever at Crich was planned with 20 operational trams (no non-operational trams were used) being available. Early preparations didn’t quite go according to plan as both Sheffield 330 and Leeds 399 suffered de-wirements which required attention by Workshop staff – happily the problems were sorted and both these trams did take part in the Cavalcade.
The trams started to leave the Depot Yard in a pre-determined order so they could form into the Cavalcade with the tram first on site (131) at the front and the tram last on site (Berlin 3006) at the back. Full marks should be given to the organisation of the Cavalcade as it must have been very challenging working out which order trams needed to leave the Depot and where they had to go to form the Cavalcade. The trams eventually lined-up at the Bandstand tramstop with 131 leading Leeds 399 and then the other 18 trams. As the clock turned to 1342 the Cavalcade began! The following list shows the trams in the Cavalcade with the date of their first arrival at Crich:
Cardiff 131 – 8th May 1959
Leeds 399 – 15th August 1959
Leeds 345 – 19th December 1959
Glasgow 812 – 13th August 1960
Paisley 68 – 2nd September 1960
Southampton 45 – 29th October 1960
Sheffield 330 – 17th December 1960
Metropolitan 331 – 10th June 1961
Liverpool 869 – 26th November 1961
Glasgow 22 – 24th May 1963
Blackpool & Fleetwood 2 – 24th May 1963
Blackpool 40 – 24th May 1963
Johannesburg 60 – 4th December 1964
Blackpool 717 – 29th January 1966
Blackpool 166- 10th June 1972
Sheffield 74 – 29th September 1990
Chesterfield 7 – 4th November 1993
London Transport 1622 – 13th October 1994
Oporto 273 – 31st May 1995
Berlin 3006 – June 1996
The number of people at the Museum viewing the Cavalcade made photography challenging, and it was almost impossible to take photos without at least one person getting in the way! Because there were so many trams in the Cavalcade before Berlin 3006 had passed me, the first trams were starting to head back to re-enter the Depot! It took quite some time for things to start to get back to normal with those trams not operating in service having to return to Depot and then the full public service could be resumed.
As the trams were returning to Depot preparations started for the final piece of the days jigsaw – the capital cities line-up. This line-up would initially feature the capitals of Ireland, Scotland and Wales with the English capital not turning up until 1622 came out of service. Edinburgh 35 was the first tram to be taken out of the Depot (using “Postman Pat”) and this was positioned by the indoor children’s play area. This was followed by one of the trams I would imagine many people were looking forward to seeing out in the open – Hill of Howth 10 – and this was also taken off the traverser and stabled just in front of the Exhibition Hall entrance. And the final tram of line-up was Cardiff 21 – the horse tram on loan for 2009 – which was left on the traverser. Unfortunately, the only downside of this line-up was the sun had moved round to right behind the trams meaning photography was not easy.
Even after this line-up there was still time for 131 to return to the main line for some trips along the whole length of the tramway as people started to leave the Museum after a very successful day.
In conclusion, there is no doubt that the Members’ Day was hugely enjoyable with lots of trams out in the open (I make it 25 trams at least out on the Depot Fan – 26 if you include GMJ) and many rare and unique photographic opportunities. The only small downside of a day like this is that there is so much going on you don’t know where to turn and tram rides are almost out of the question as you may miss something! A huge thank you to all those involved in the organisation of the event and here’s to the next 50 years at Crich!
The official British Trams Online rating for the event is…
Well, nothing’s completely perfect is it!
Trams in Service:
London Transport 1622
Trams also out on the Main Line (excluding Cavalcade):
GMJ & Sheffield 15
Trams stabled on Depot Fan (either as part of a display or to allow other trams out):
Blackpool Electric Loco
Hill of Howth 10
London Transport 1622