One of the premier tram events for tram enthusiasts in the UK is Enthusiasts Day at the Crich Tramway Village. The event publicity says that it is a “Dream Date for Enthusiasts”, but was it in 2008? Read on to find out what the event had in store for us. Report by British Trams Online Webmaster Gareth Prior.
The Enthusiasts Day at Crich is usually themed with Cavalcades and tram line-ups from specific trams systems and 2008 was no different. Two themes ran throughout the day – Blackpool and Sheffield – with the morning belonging to the Lancashire town and the afternoon to the Yorkshire city. In addition to trams from these places starring probably the most famous tram in the collection also made an appearance along with the newest Tramway Museum Society owned tramcar.
Upon arrival at the Museum by the free bus from Whatstandwell Railway Station the first tram which leapt out at you was Edinburgh 35 stabled on the stub track on the Depot Fan. This tram has, of course, recently been donated by Edinburgh City Council, to the permanent TMS collection and so it was displayed for this purpose. The tram, usually stabled right at the back of the Depot, still carries adverts for British Gas from its time in Blackpool back in the mid 1980s.
The first major event of the day on the “Programme of Events” was a photo opportunity on the Depot Fan and 35 was only a part of this! Sheffield Works 330 had had to be moved from in front of 35 to allow this to be moved and this had been put in front of the Workshop. 330 was just the first of the Works Cars to be moved as the next tram movements saw the Blackpool Electric Locomotive (the most hard working tram of the day!) haul Modern Tower Wagon TW3, GMJ and Glasgow Welding Trailer from their home of track 4 of the Depot to in front of the Workshop (indeed in front of 330). The next duty for the Locomotive was to return to track 4 and move Leeds Tower Wagon 2 out of the Depot to be stabled on the Depot Fan as well.
Then the morning excitement took place as the Exhibition Hall doors were opened. Regular readers of British Trams Online will know that one of my major disappointments of recent events at Crich has been the lack of these doors being opened, so this almost made my day! (I may be exaggerating there!) With the Exhibition Hall now opened many enthusiasts gathered round the Traverser to see which tram(s) would be lucky enough to get a day in the limelight. The Traverser was moved all the way down its line and finished in front of Blackpool Standard 49. The electric tug (“Pat 1” – a former Post Office vehicle), which is to be retired soon with a newer and more powerful tug having been acquired, was attached to the front of the tram and dragged it onto the Traverser with very little trouble. The Traverser was then moved back to its starting position from where the Blackpool Electric Loco was attached and dragged 49 a few yards to in front of the Exhibition Hall main entrance.
That was not it for the Exhibition Hall in the morning through as Sheffield 15 was dragged out by hand – who needs a horse when you have a man! – onto the Traverser. But 15 was not to have its day in the limelight as it was just moved onto another track in the Exhibition Hall as the tram wanted was actually behind it – Prague 180. This tram is probably the most famous tram in the Crich fleet for the reason that as it left the Czech capital back in 1968 the Soviet tanks rolled in behind as they began their occupation of Czechoslovakia. Now the tram is a non-runner but to celebrate the 40th anniversary of its arrival in the Derbyshire countryside it was moved onto the Traverser. The Traverser was then moved back to its starting point and there it was to stay for the rest of the morning and early afternoon.
With all the trams now on display for the morning events attention turned to organising the Blackpool Cavalcade. No Blackpool trams had been used in service during the morning and the only tram from the Lancashire resort to turn a wheel had been the Locomotive. A great deal of shunting was undertaken within the Depot to organise the trams and then just after 1230 they started to leave the Depot Yard to go to Cliffside to form the Cavalcade. First out was Standard 40 followed by the Locomotive, Pantograph 167, Blackpool & Fleetwood Rack 2 and Toastrack 166. The trams then returned in reverse order (i.e. 166 first) to form the Cavalcade – the order of the trams seemed to be a bit random but I am sure there was a reason for it! Once the trams arrived at Town End they posed for photographic opportunities and then 2, 166 and 167 ran in passenger service with the others returning to Depot.
Next up on the day was the traditional tram tour, covering all parts of the track. This year it was a recreation of the 1948 tour in Southampton which led to the purchase of Southampton 45 to start off tramcar preservation in the UK. The original tour used two trams – a closed tram and then an open on – and this was recreated at Crich in 2008, although obviously only one Southampton tram could be used. This meant that Blackpool Standard 40 was used for the initial part of the tour before all participants were transferred over to 45 by the Depot crossover. The tour also included a break at Glory Mine where participants were allowed to take photos of the trams from off the tram – normally a big no no at Crich!
As the day moved on a tidy up exercise was undertaken in the Depot Yard with the Works Cars (with the exception of 330 being put back and then Prague 180, Sheffield 15 and Blackpool Standard 49 going back into the Exhibition Hall – Edinburgh 35 would be returned to the Depot a little later on.
The next major event of the days programme was a “Surprise” Photo Opportunity on the Depot Fan. It was such a big surprise that even the tram crews for the day had not been informed and so the rumour mill was going overboard with what could be happening as surprise indicated something unusual and not seen outside for a while. Attention turned to the Exhibition Hall again with “Pat 1” moving that way and stopping in front of Sheffield 189. This tram was then dragged out onto the Traverser and then transferred to the Depot Fan with the aid of the Blackpool Electric Loco. Enthusiasts around the Depot were discussing what could be happening with many agreeing that 189 couldn’t be the surprise as it was out at Enthusiasts Day 2007.
The tug then returned to Exhibition Hall and stopped in front of the only other tram at the front which had not been moved during the day – Sheffield 264, another tram which had been out on Enthusiasts Day 2007. Surely the surprise wasn’t going to be 189 and 264 as they had also been out just 12 months previously? But sure enough the tug moved 264 onto the Traverser and then the tram was moved to the stub line on the Fan which had been vacated a little earlier by Edinburgh 35.
The shunting was not over yet though as Gateshead 5 was moved under its own power from Depot V to track 5 of the main depot via the Traverser. The Electric Locomotive was in action again next, going into the main Depot and attaching itself to Sheffield 510 (by this time the penny had dropped with most people that the “surprise” photo opportunity was to be a line-up of Sheffield trams on the Depot Fan. 510 was dragged out and stabled on the Fan next to fellow white liveried Sheffield car 264. In all there were five Sheffield trams on the Depot Fan – 74, 189, 264, 330 and 510, although they were not all together to enable a complete group shot to be taken (I do believe as I was leaving that 189 was moved forward to be neared to the “white cars”.
Throughout the day a fairly extensive tram service was in place with trams advertised to be every 5/6 minutes. Included in the trams being used were Oporto 273 and London Transport 1622 which are very rarely used as they can currently not go any further north than Wakebridge. Both trams were used in the morning and then also the late afternoon with a long break in between. Other trams used throughout the day in service included Paisley 68 (a popular tram with the sunny weather during the day), Leeds 345, Liverpool 869 and Leeds 180. Some trams also saw service in the morning with a swap over later in the day when several of the Blackpool trams were put into service – Toastrack 166 being a particularly popular one with passengers.
Other highlights during the day included tours of the Workshop with a member of the Workshop team explaining what was going on with the trams currently in there (for record Berlin 3006, Chesterfield 7, MET 331, Cardiff 131 and LUT 159) and there were also tours of the Library and Archive.
The Verdict – Gareth’s Opinion
All in all Enthusiasts Day 2008 was a thoroughly enjoyable day with seven different withdrawn trams being displayed on the Depot Fan. On a personal note two of these were a major highlight (35 and 180 as I had never seen these out in the open before and so it allowed me a great opportunity to get some half decent photos of these trams) and another highlight was the brief appearance of Sheffield 15 in the open, another tram I had never seen outside before. The star of the day was, undoubtedly, the aforementioned Edinburgh 35 which has of course only recently moved into TMS ownership.
The Blackpool Cavalcade was good to see, although a very slight (and it was only slight) disappointment was that none of the withdrawn trams could join in out on the main line. This was the only tram Cavalcade of the day (a Rolls Royce car cavalcade was also seen, although this didn’t seem to be much of an event although I have to admit I wasn’t concentrating too much on it) and to be honest I think this worked better than having two Cavalcades like last year as the amount of organisation required can lead to chaos with other exciting things.
Probably the biggest disappointment of the day was the “Surprise” Photo Opportunity in the afternoon – as it wasn’t a huge surprise with the trams involved. Both 189 and 264 were out just 12 months earlier at the 2007 Enthusiasts Day so it would have been nice to see rarer trams out (and there were rumours flying around that a very rare tram might have made it out). On the positive side of things it was good to see the Sheffield trams almost side by side on the Depot Fan but it was not really the sort of “surprise” we were all expecting.
One final thought, credit must be given to the Workshop staff who were in charge of moving the trams around the Depot Fan. Timings may not have been strictly adhered to but it was a great effort to get so many non-operational trams out in the open. Credit should also be given to the organisers of the event in having a good varied event, even if the “surprise” photo opportunity wasn’t much of a surprise – a lot of effort went into it and it definitely showed.
And now I’m sure it is what you’ve waiting for – the official British Trams Online score out of 5 for the event is:
Trams in Service:
Berlin 3006 (late afternoon)
Blackpool Toastrack 166 (afternoon)
Blackpool Pantograph 167 (briefly in afternoon)
Blackpool & Fleetwood Rack 2 (afternoon)
Johannesburg 60 (until early afternoon)
Leeds 180 (all day)
Leeds 345 (all day)
Liverpool 869 (all day)
London Transport 1622 (morning and late afternoon)
Oporto 273 (morning and late afternoon)
Paisley 68 (all day)
Sheffield 74 (until early afternoon)
Blackpool & Fleetwood Rack 2
Trams Displayed on Depot Fan:
Blackpool Standard 49
Glasgow Welding Trailer
Leeds Tower Wagon 2
Sheffield Works 330
Modern Tower Wagon TW3