The annual Enthusiasts Day at the Crich Tramway Village – home of the National Tramway Museum – always brings up some surprises with rare trams seeing the light of the day. For the first time in 2007 British Trams Online Webmaster Gareth Prior attended the event. Find out what happened this year…
Now, many people I know think I am mad in the first place (oh, you’re a tramspotter they say as they gradually back away and out the door as quick as possible) but when I said I was going to Crich for the day (320 mile round trip) and getting the 0516 train (that 5.16am in the morning, meaning I had to get up at 4am!) they finally realised I had well and truly lost the plot. But thanks to Setanta Sports I had a free Saturday and what else would I want to do than spend nearly 18 hours out of the house (it shouldn’t have been that long but delays were experienced on the way home) whilst seeing lots of trams? It may have been a long day but it was worth it!
The theme of the 2007 Enthusiasts Day was London and the Tramcar Sponsorship Organisation (TSO) with a little bit of Sheffield thrown in for good measure. The first task of the day was to get an unusual tram stabled at the spare track at the Town End terminus as is usual for Enthusiasts Day (Grimsby & Immingham 14 in 2006 and Den Haag 1147 in 2004), the choice for this year was Sheffield 264 – the first time I have personally seen the tram out in the open. The tram had to be extracted from its usual home of the Exhibition Hall (this had been done by the time I arrived at the Museum by the free bus service from Whatstandwell railway station) and 264 was sat on the traverser with the Blackpool Electric Locomotive attached. The loco hauled 264 out of the Depot Yard and onto the Main Line and then it pushed the tram down wrong line to be stabled for the remainder of the day at Town End terminus.
With the main theme of the day being London the next job was to start to prepare the four trams from the English capital for their time in the limelight. Currently of these four only MET 331 is available for service with LCC 1 never having run in passenger service at the Museum. 1 was extracted from the Exhibition Hall and moved to the Workshop for an inspection to check that it was fit to run in the Main Line – unfortunately this inspection showed their was trouble with the cars hand brake and so the Cavalcade was down to three trams (331, London Transport 1622 and LCC 106), all of these being self propelled. Following the Cavalcade 331 entered service, 106 returned to depot and 1622 spent the remainder of the day running up and down on test.
Whilst the Cavalcade was being prepared it was decided to extract Grimsby & Immingham 14 from the back of track 4 in the depot – this was to give the tram a good internal clean. In order to get the tram the Blackpool Electric Loco was used to tow the various works trams in front of 14 out of the way. First up was GMJ, followed by Leeds Tower Wagon 2 and then the Glasgow Welding Trailer and the Modern Tower Wagon. These vehicles were either put onto another track in the depot or stabled on the Depot Fan. 14 was the dragged out by the Blackpool Electric Loco before being stabled in front of the Workshop.
After a lull in big activity it was time for the “Enthusiasts Tour” which ran from the traverser and travelled over practically the whole of the tramway. This lasted for around an hour and Liverpool 869 was the tram that did the honours.
The next job for the Workshop staff was to organise the second Cavalcade of the day – TSO cars. This was described in the Programme of Events as a “mini” cavalcade, however, it ended up with more trams in it than the main cavalcade. Once again a lot of shunting was needed to get the required trams out (Sheffield 74, Johannesburg 60, Chesterfield 7 and Leeds 345) with trams such as the Glasgow cars 22 and 1297 being shunted around to ensure it ran smoothly.
With all this shunting having gone on throughout the day trams were parked all over the place in the depot with Blackpool Pantograph 167 on track 4, the works cars and Sheffield 189 on track 6. So this meant more shunting was needed to get trams back to where they lived. The highlight of this shunting was the movement of 189 onto the stub track in the Depot Yard. At one stage it looked as if they might move 189 to the Town End terminus for photo opportunities with 264 but because 331 was parked there this was decided against.
Throughout the day a 5/6 minute passenger service was maintained with Blackpool & Fleetwood Rack 2, Southampton 45 and Paisley 68 being used all day and Johannesburg 60, Blackpool Pantograph 167, MET 331, Leeds 180, Leeds 399, Liverpool 869 and Berlin 3006 being used for limited periods.
The day also allows for good photo opportunities of the Exhibition Hall with the main doors opened to enable the aforementioned trams to be extracted for their day in the sun. Other features of the day were Workshop tours, visits to the Museum Library and Archive and an Archive Film Show.
All in all Enthusiasts Day 2007 was a good day with the chance to see trams normally locked away either at the back of the depot or the Exhibition Hall out in the open and to get photos. The sun shone for much of the afternoon and credit must go to the organisers for the day. But just what will they think of in 2008?
Trams in Passenger Service:
Blackpool & Fleetwood Rack 2
Blackpool Pantograph 167
London Tram Cavalcade:
London County Council 106
London Transport 1622
TSO Tram Cavalcade:
“Special” Trams Making a Move
London County Council 1 (to Workshop for checks before Cavalcade – failed)
Grimsby & Immingham 14 (Depot Yard)
Sheffield 189 (stub track in Depot Yard)
Sheffield 264 (Town End Terminus)
Various works trams shunted around Depot Yard