Crich play area to become a tram depot?

It has been well documented that the Tramway Museum Society, based at Crich Tramway Village, are desperately short of covered accomodation in which to house its growing collection of priceless vintage trams. Both the museum site at Crich, and their off-site store at Clay Cross are full to bursting point following the acquisition of several redundant Blackpool trams, and the failure of an appeal to fund the construction of a new depot in which to house the new arrivals.

Now, the TMS are reportedly considering a more low-cost solution to this problem. The Exhibition Hall annexxe, once earmarked to house a power station display, has been used as an indoor soft play area for young visitors for more than a decade – but now serious consideration is being given to using this building as a store for trams instead. Although only small, it is claimed that this would house an additional four tramcars on site (although it is not stated how large these vehicles would be). It is proposed to create a new soft play area for children next to the Red Lion pub on a modest budget, in order to free up extra space in which to store trams. This would ensure that visitor facilities are not compromised, whilst also prioritising the Museum’s reason for being – its tram fleet.

Unfortunately, a minor setback means that work cannot start on the new play area for another year at least. Planned excavation works next to the Red Lion have been put on hold for the time being as planning permission will be required, and by the time this can be obtained, the site will be preparing to re-open for visitors. However, if this idea is persued then hopefully the current play area could be cleared during winter 2013/14.

The idea of storing trams in the annexxe of the main Exhibition Hall is not new: Leeds 600 spent a short period of time inside it in 1996, long before it was transferred to Clay Cross. It is not yet known whether the possible increase in available depot space would lead to further additions to the fleet, although with both of the Blackpool trams turned down by the TMS – Centenary car 648 and Twin set 672+682 – now being retained in Blackpool Transport’s own heritage collection, it would seem highly unlikely that these trams will ever make the journey to Derbyshire. Nonetheless, it would seem wise to make space in readiness for any future acquisitions, with the disposal of the original Manchester Metrolink LRVs reminding us of the possibility of a second generation tram joining the national collection one day.

Glasgow 1115 is seen sandwiched between two trams which arrived at Crich within the last 12 months - Blackpool 'Boat' 236 and Brush car 630. Behind the trams, the Exhibition Hall anexxe, with its large green doors, can just be seen. (Photo by Andrew Waddington)


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15 Responses to Crich play area to become a tram depot?

  1. John Stewart says:

    If the T68s were to be in use, how would one provide access? A length of high-level platform at each stop would hardly be practical.

    • Ken walker says:

      Static exhibit? They would probably be unable to operate at any museum, but surely at least one should be preserved as they represent the first “second generation” British trams.

      • Jack Esson says:

        Rather than preserving a T68 in a museum like Crich maybe 1 or 2 could stay on the Metrolink to run in service.
        Maybe it could be 1001 (The first T68 delivered to Manchester)
        or 1010 (The first T68 to run in service.)
        Luckily there is a mock up T68 (1000) at the Manchester Transport museum.
        As well as platforms being needed Metrolink’s voltage is higher than any 1st generation tramway.
        Although in Blackpool heritage trams run alongside Flexitys a few have had faults caused by the higher voltage.

  2. Alex says:

    It could be that Crich aim to display a T68 (or half one) as part of the museum, showing the development of the tramcar over time, but it is not used, such as the Den Haag car, or Blackpool 712.

    If Crich want to run a 2nd generation car (as a disabled access vehicle) then it may be wise to investigate the cost of the Midland Metro cars that are to be replaced soon, as these are lower floor and probably more wheelchair compatible than the T68s

    • Pete C says:

      If it’s a static exhibit then it possibly doesn’t need to be wheelchair compatible? As to the Midland Metro cars, it has been reported recently that they may actually retain these for a possible future extension.

  3. WatcherZero says:

    There wouldnt be the juice in the museums overhead to operate them anyway, it would have to be a static display with something like a cleaning platform for access inside on one side.

  4. Geoffrey Ryder says:

    Perhaps the TMS should also consider disposal or long term loan of a few of the vehicles which are taking up depot space but are not on the schedule for restoration. Leeds 600 and the large Grimsby and Immingham tram come to mind as being two candidates, the latter in particular. That would release depot space and perhaps allow the return from Clay Cross of more interesting vehicles in the collection such as Sheffield 46 and Blackpool 59.

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      Each to their own but I think that Grimsby & Immingham 14 is extremely valuable – although I can see your point of view as it takes up so much space in the depot. Lovely tram though!

  5. Ian Robinson says:

    Surely the best place to preserve a T68 would be the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI). They were supposed to have the mock up tram from the Coronation Street crash! A real one would be far better. Don’t forget that the Manchester Transport Museum already has vehicle 1000 built in 1990!

  6. Something of an aside, but reading about the Crich tramway museum and bearing in mind the former railway which used to run from the quarry site down past Crich town, is there any way that the tramway could be extended down the hill (towards Crich), and is there any available land down that way which could be purchased for additional storage? I am aware there is a tunnel further down, of course.

  7. Is it possible for a second trmway museum to be opened at another location where there is a former raiwlay and perhaps available land? Or would that detract from Crich?

  8. In reply to Nathan Darroch I would like to say that an extension of the tramway towards Crich village is very unlikely as this would involve crossing the Crich to Cromford Road and some very awkward gradients as well.

    There are at least two other preservation projects which currently are exclusively devoted to tramcars plus one more which also includes buses and the already established museums at Lowestoft, Beamish, Dudley and Summerlee. So there would be no second tramway museum but rather the sixth growing out of one of the projects which have not yet reached proper museum status in the way that they have a site with regular opening times and a running line. Are you seriously talking about another museum on top of those museums/projects?

  9. Andrew Blood says:

    I think you may have ommitted to mention Heaton Park in your list of tramway museum lines – I’m sure an accidental slip of the mind

  10. @ Andrew Blood: You are right, I accidentally forgot Heaton Park. Actually, Heaton Park would appear to be the closest to the “second tramway museum” Nathan was talking about: Exclusively devoted to trams, up and running and with tramcars from more than one tramway system. All others museums are either tramway plus something else or collections which are not yet accessible as regularly as the others.

  11. Andrew Blood says:

    As fantastic as Heaton Park is I would not suggest that it deserves the accolade of the second tramway museum – not yet anyway. When the next phase of extensions are built, the new depot is constructed and the fleet expands then it is possible. However, there is a museum which, at this moment, fully justifies the title of the second tramway museum – Beamish. Even though the remit of Beamish is so much wider, the progress made on the tramway in recent years has been outstanding. It is not only our second tramway museum but, in many repsects, ecplises Crich and is on track to becoming the primer tramway museum in the country. It has a longer and more scenic route than Crich, has a fleet which is, in the main, all kept serviceable, is leading the way in innovative repaints to its tram fleet and is open to innovative tram loans to ensure diversity. In April it is planning an event which will be wider in scope than anything ever attempted at Crich and, in the near future, will be building a second tram route, something talked about at Crich for a long time but which is no closer to becoming a reality. In additon, extra accomodation, seemingly impossible at Crich, will also be constructed. The attitude at Beamish perfectly sums up what the UKs premier tram museum should be about and, quite often, isnt.

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