The annual Tramathon at the Crich Tramway Village always attracts the trams fans, with the only chance to see all of the operational trams running on the same time. This years event was held on Sunday 11 June and BRITISH TRAMS ONLINE webmaster Gareth Prior reports on the events of 2006…
Tramathon 2006 was different to those of the last few years. No not because Crich was bathed in hot sunshine all day, but because instead of all the operational trams being put out to work at the start of the day, half were left at the front of the depot. Then mid way through the day the crew’s swapped trams with only Blackpool Standard 40 and the access tram Berlin 3006 remaining out all day.
Of the current operational fleet only London Transport 1622 was unable to take any part in. This tram was sat in the workshops still undergoing attention following the problems it has been having with its motors. All other trams in the serviceable pool at least made a brief appearance on the mainline. Blackpool & Fleetwood Rack 2 was one of the morning trams but this did not have a very long stint before being pulled in for a scheduled examination and maintenance. It was later seen undergoing a workshop test run around lunchtime, but did not return to passenger operation during the day. In addition both Liverpool 869 and Sheffield 510 ended up at the front of the workshop, however it is not known whether this was just for storage or whether they were suffering with any problems.
Mornings at Tramathon are normally quite sedate affairs (relatively anyway) with no really special trams out and about, and those that are out in service running in pairs or threes. 2006 wasn’t really any exception with the 13 trams out in the morning running standard journeys from Town End through to Glory Mine. As usual on Tramathon day each journey took a long time with trams having to wait at the start of single line sections for the next pair to come. One special journey was undertaken by the two diesel locos, GMJ and Rupert who went coupled together as far as Wakebridge, where they were stabled in the siding. This was presumably just to get them out of the way whilst shunting moves were undertaken in the depot yard.
From lunchtime onwards 11 of the trams out in the morning, made their way to depot, and after their crews had their breaks, 11 new trams entered service for the rest of the day. This included three trams seeing use at their first major event since returning to service. These were Leeds 345 (major restoration), Johannesburg 60 (overhaul) and Glasgow 1297 (overhaul). Another tram out in the afternoon was Halle 902, which is still awaiting conversion to the second access tram, making some rare passenger journeys.
The afternoon often sees special tram movements on the mainline, with workshop tests and engineering trams making appearances. This year was no exception with GMJ and Rupert making a second appearance on the mainline, this time going all the way up to Glory Mine. Then the Blackpool Electric Loco was seen towing Southampton 45. This was done as a towing demonstration and the pair also went all the way to Glory Mine. Upon arrival at the terminus both the locos and the towing demonstration returned back towards the main museum site.
As already mentioned above, this years Tramathon was different and because trams had to be changed over halfway through the day there was nothing stabled within the yard, and also the chance was not taken to have themed displays of trams whilst crews took their lunches.
Late in the day the main doors to the Exhibition Hall were opened, allowing good views to be had of those trams situated at the front. This included the fairly new arrival of Blackpool Brush 298, which will eventually be worked on to bring it back to operational standard. 298 is currently a long way from returning to service and is held together in part by sticky tape! Also at the front were Blackpool Standard 49, Sheffield 189 and Prague 180.
Because of the glorious (and may I say unlike Crich!) weather the day seemed to attract a larger than usual crowd of people and all the open trams were very popular for rides. Very few journeys undertaken by Southampton 45, Paisley 68, LCC 106 or Blackpool Toastrack 166 were empty with all of the open seats taken at times. These were of course the sensible trams to ride on a day such as this. It is, however, not advisable to ride on certain trams with high temperatures such as these. One such tram is Glasgow 1297 which must be one of the hottest trams ever! We really are spoilt in this day and age with air conditioned public transport vehicles!
If you’ve never been to the Crich Tramway Village, or even if you have, why not give it another visit this year. The place normally has something to surprise you and all monies you spend there could mean that your favourite tram is closer to returning to operational condition. Check out the Diary of Events to see the remaining special events at the Museum this year, and it is open every day until the end of October. Places like Crich (and other tram places nationwide) rely on the money you spend on going there to keep going, and your support is always welcome.
Trams in Service in the morning:
Blackpool & Fleetwood Rack 2
Blackpool Standard 40
London County Council 106
Trams in Service in the afternoon:
Blackpool Standard 40
Blackpool Toastrack 166
Blackpool Pantograph 167
Engineering Trams on the Mainline:
Blackpool Electric Loco (towing Southampton 45)