Andrew Waddington takes a look at the annual Crich Tramway Village Enthusiasts Day held on 25 September which also saw the relaunch of Blackpool Toastrack 166 into service…
What is it with special tram-related events? Just two weeks after the Blackpool depot open day was a bit of a wash-out, came the annual Enthusiast’s Day at Crich Tramway Village – and it was a typically cool, showery autumn day.
I arrived at Crich at about 1:00pm – just in time to see the launch of Blackpool Toastrack 166. This car had been out of service since 1998, but thanks to a joint appeal held by the Fylde Tramway Society and the Tramcar Sponsorship Organisation, funds were raised to repair the car, and this work has now been completed. A cheque was handed over, and after a short speech, specially invited guests including the FTS President were invited to board the car for its inaugural run to Glory Mine and back. At the same time, the museum’s other operating Blackpool cars – Rack 2, Standard 40 and Pantograph 167 – loaded passengers outside the depot, and set off in a procession with 166 (and somehow a London tram ended up joining in as well!). However, this was just setting the scene, as when the cavalcade arrived at Town End, they were joined by withdrawn Standard 49, being pushed by the Blackpool electric loco. The result was an impressive line-up of no less than six Blackpool trams in the street! The four serviceable trams stayed in service for the result of the day, with 166 proving as popular as ever despite some rain.
However, there was much more to see than just Blackpool trams. Oporto mule car 9 was displayed outside, alongside Chesterfield trams 7 and 8, which were posed together in the depot yard. Den Haag PCC car 1147 was parked up on the siding at Town End, and even more unusually, London 1 spent the day on the Wakebridge siding! As this tram has never run at Crich, this was almost certainly the furthest it had ever travelled on the Crich tramway, and this provided some really unusual photo opportunities. Getting all of these unusual trams out meant that other trams which were blocking them in also had to be moved, and there was a huge amount of shuffling around of trams going on throughout the day. The most interesting move involved Edinburgh 35, which did not want to leave the spot it had been put in, but was eventually dragged out onto the traverser. Moving it back into Depot 5 proved to be even more entertaining – a small electric tug was used to push 35, but once again, moving the tram proved difficult. So much so, in fact, that the tug had to reverse at one point to get some speed up before ramming into the back of the tram!!!!! This game of ‘ram the tram’ did the trick, and 35 was finally put back to bed. The opening up of the Exhibition Hall to get various trams out provided a much better view of Dundee 21 than usual, and again this made for a good photo opportunity.
Other attractions included ‘continental running’ in the morning, and a special enthusiasts tour visiting various sections of track which the trams rarely use in passenger service. For the third successive year the museum’s diesels were used to haul Sheffield horse car 15, which operated between Wakebridge and the depot area. As well as all of this, somehow a normal tram service operated as well, with the following cars in action – Blackpool 2, 40, 166 & 167, Glasgow 22, Sheffield 510, MET 331, Oporto 273 and Berlin 3006.
In conclusion, this was possibly the best Enthusiast’s Day yet, with lots of unusual sights to enjoy. Thanks to all the hardworking volunteers who made the day possible – it was a great event, and one which will be very hard to better. I’m sure that doesn’t mean they won’t try though!