Event Review: Crich Tramway Village 1940s Weekend 2008

The first major special event of 2008 was held at the Crich Tramway Village over the Easter weekend – 23rd and 24th March 2008. Jack Gordon reports from the second day of the event – Monday 24th March,

On Monday, 24th March I ventured over to Crich for their Easter 1940’s Weekend. On arrival at 9:30, the trams were already lined up in the village, with Glasgow 812 and Glasgow 22 on the terminus, and then the trams lined up (from south to north) Leeds 345, Leeds 399, Southampton 45 and Blackpool 167. Already there were re-enactors about preparing for the day.

At 10:30, the first tram (Glasgow 812), rolled away from the terminus with approximately 4 passengers on board, doing the usual checks on the way up, and taking the newly christened “Dog-Chews” (the yellow and blue single line staffs) up the line.

A 6 minute tram service was kept throughout the day, operated by Glasgow 812, Glasgow 22, Leeds 345, Southampton 45, Leeds 399 and Blackpool 167 in that order.

At 12 o’clock the first event of the day began with a Children’s Entertainer present at the ARP Post. Hot on their heels was the first of Miss Lola Lamour’s singing serenades, on the depot fan. At 12.45 massive chaos was caused at Stephenson Place, holding up the tram service, when the notorious Spiv Charlie Watson was arrested for selling Black Market goods. Unfortunately this year trams could not be turned at the depot crossover to keep the tram service running due to a minor problem of the points.

Over lunch there were various goings on in and around the depot, including a Home Guard Display, the Andrews Sisters and a visit from Mr. Winston Churchill himself, as well as Field-Marshall Montgomery and General Patton. Mr. Churchill and his Navy assistant were later spotted inspecting Bruy (Wakebridge’s French Guise) and also sampling the tram service.

The first parade of the day was the Military Troop March and Veteran’s Parade at 2. This again caused slight problems to the tram service, but everything recovered!

Miss Lola Lamour returned to the stage (an Army curtain-sided lorry) on the depot fan at 2:15, before being rudely interrupted by an air raid, which caused chaos to the village. Trams were halted and people scattered. Luckily, everything managed to escape unscathed.

Up until 4:30 the program was much the same in the morning, although an increased amount of MPs were seen inspecting various I.D. Cards, with several German Spies being removed from trams, and many members of the public being told to fill their cards in or risk being thrown off the top of Southampton 45 at high-speed…

4:30 signalled the start of the closing parade, with small amounts of tram bunching. Leeds 345 (suitably decorated with black-out masks on its headlights) and Southampton 45 (with blast-netting in the windows) joined Glasgow 22 at Glory Mine, to return together as a three – otherwise trams would have been stranded. They were joined at Bruy (Wakebridge) by Leeds 399, which, still on the northbound line, had turned its trolley using the bamboo pole, and then the four returned to Stephenson Place, only to find themselves at the end of what turned out to be a long tram jam, with visitors disembarking in the street. Blackpool 167 had already begun to head northbound again, and so was on that side of the street. The line-up on the other side was the same as the order the trams had been running. Blackpool 167 then completed another round trip once the ceremony was complete, as did Glasgow 812 and Glasgow 22, Leeds 345 and Southampton 45 went straight to the depot, as there were very few visitors left, and Leeds 399 hung around a bit before doing the same. Blackpool 167 then followed suit, as did Glasgow 22. The last tram of the day was Glasgow 812, with the very small amount of 2 passengers.

All in all the event was highly successful, with every tram loading running full (Blackpool 167 proved to be a bad choice due to the low capacity, but there were no other trams available) and visitors thoroughly enjoying themselves. Although it was snowing at some points, Southampton 45 was always a popular choice, and offered visitors an opportunity to get a taste of tram-travel in the old times, when open-tops where the only trams available.

Thanks must go to everyone who helped organised the event, the tram crews and of course the re-enactors, who which without the event would have been only half as good as it was!

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