Further details have now been released, concerning plans for Beamish Museum’s ambitious ‘Great North Festival of Transport’ which is being held during April 2013. This includes a four-day event celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Beamish tramway, which will feature a number of special guest trams from other museums. The highlight of this event, named ‘Our Friends Electric’, is likely to be a procession of trams on Saturday 6th April.
The museum previously organised a tram parade as an added attraction for the 2011 ‘Power from the Past’ event, and now a repeat performance is being planned for the 40th anniversary celebrations. Although it has not been confirmed how many trams will participate, this will presumably include all of the visiting trams appearing at the event – Stockport 5 from Heaton Park, Lisbon 730 from Birkenhead, and Glasgow 1068 from Crich. The tram parade will happen on the evening of Saturday 6th April, along with other special photo opportunities for the enthusiasts in attendance.
In a pleasing move, it has been confirmed that trams will operate around the circular tramway in both directions on all four days of the tram event (April 4th to 7th inclusive), presenting many more photographic opportunities than has been possible at recent major events. It is also planned to swap the trams that are operating during the days, to allow visitors to enjoy a wide variety of different vehicles in service. Extra attractions being planned include guided tours of the Regional Heritage Engineering Centre, a model tramway exhibition on the Saturday & Sunday, extra vintage road traffic to add to the scene, and plenty more – with a few extra surprises believed to be in the pipeline! The weekend should hopefully also witness the launch of a brand new book detailing the history of the museum’s working tramway.
The following two weekends will see further events held and the various visiting trams should be in service for these, although all operating in an anti-clockwise direction, as is the standard practice for events of this scale. This will however provide even more opportunities to enjoy the trams in unfamiliar surroundings, and of course there will be many other attractions, particularly involving steam vehicles which will include a visit from the famous replica of George Stephenson’s Rocket engine from the National Railway Museum.
It is now looking increasingly unlikely that any further visiting trams will join the lineup, although the presence of cars from Crich, Birkenhead and Heaton Park, as well as the museum’s own fleet and trams from the Lancastrian Transport Trust on long-term loan to Beamish, will no doubt prove mouthwatering to many enthusiasts. Plans were afoot to add Blackpool Standard car 147 to the lineup but sadly this appears to have fallen through, whilst a request to borrow a tram from Summerlee Industrial Museum has also fallen by the wayside as low bridges around the site have made extracting a tram anything but straightforward. It is still possible that a fourth tram may make the journey to Beamish for this event, but if this does not materialise then having cars 5, 730 and 1068 attend will be a fantastic achievement, and is likely to make ‘Our Friends Electric’ the must-see tram event of 2013.