The Tramway Museum Society have recently revealed the new and greatly improved accommodation for volunteers working at the Crich Tramway Village. For many years, volunteers from far afield were able to stay overnight at Field House, but this has now been demolished and replaced by a more comfortable and modern new building.
The new complex has been built on the foundations of the accommodation it replaces, and has been named ‘Sam Harrison House’ as a lasting tribute to the man who purchased the original house sited there so that members could stay in it. Society members who are attending the TMS Annual general Meeting this weekend are being invited to visit the premises to see the finished result, and then the housing should be able for bookings within a few weeks. This will hopefully encourage more volunteers to stay over at Crich for a few days, enabling more volunteers to work on site without them having to travel long distances over multiple days or incur additional costs.
Whilst the efforts being taken to ensure that volunteers who need somewhere to stay when working at the museum are well looked after will be viewed positively by many, not least those who will benefit from the improved accommodation now on offer, such a large investment by the TMS at a time of budget cuts and staff redundancies could be criticised. Indeed, early signs suggest that revenue from visitors will continue to decline this year and the attraction is expected to operate at a loss, boosted only by members’ donations, bequests and grants. With this in mind, the timing of carrying out such a major building project will no doubt be questioned, as such money could surely have funded a number of smaller projects which would be more directly beneficial to visitors. Although this development may help to encourage more members to give their time and work at Crich, a quick look at various tram enthusiast websites and even past TMS Journals soon reveals that there are numerous other issues which are keeping volunteer numbers down, and perhaps these should have been investigated first. Hopefully this hefty investment will prove to be worthwhile over time, and will in fact be the start of a series of improvements made to the experience of volunteering at the museum.