In Pictures: Beamish Steam Fair 2023

Over the years one of the most popular general transport events in the UK has been the Great North Steam Fair at Beamish. Before the pandemic this used to be a four day event which not only included the best steam traction around but also various other road vehicles. In the current climate this has now become a slightly smaller scale event (although still a significant event nonetheless) lasting for two days with the 2023 event taking place on Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd April.

The clue of the main focus of things during the event is in the title and for 2023 one of the highlights was the loan of steam locomotive Barclay 1219 which was operating on the Colliery Railway (currently before the Rowley railway and Pockerley Waggonway are out of action, the former which will remain closed in 2023). This was joined by various other vehicles operating on the road to provide a spectacle which can’t really be recreated anywhere else in the country.

Now, of course this website is British Trams Online and so our interest is in what was running on the tramway. The Sunday of the event was fine weather wise and saw three trams in service, as is normal at special events these all ran in the same direction with the clockwise circuit being served by the tramcars. The trio used were Sunderland 16, Blackpool 31 and Newcastle 114. With 114 now having been used in service this means that all five of the current operational fleet at Beamish have been used in passenger service this year with the other two being Oporto 196 and Sheffield 264. Gateshead 10 remains under overhaul in the depot.

Alongside the trams, Rotherham Daimler 220 was in service on an anti clockwise circuit with the B-type replica also running anti-clockwise via the pit village with the accessible bus also in use. Darlington Daimler 304 assisted with moving the crowds at the end of the day.

Newcastle 114 waits for the way ahead – with the conductor peering along the track to see when they may be able to get going. The Rotherham Daimler is alongside. Note that 114 now has “Fifty Years of Service” boards between decks, these boards were originally used for the fortieth anniversary of the tramway before it was changed to 50 years when it was loaned to Crich.

Sunderland 16 basks in the sun in the town.

The third tram in service, Blackpool 31, is also seen in the town. How busy the museum was on this day can be ascertained from this photo of people milling around.

Another busy scene in the town as Sunderland 16 arrives with people and other vehicles also in evidence.

Newcastle 114 at Pockerley with a pretty full load of passengers waiting for the driver to return with the single line token.

Staying at Pockerley where Sunderland 16 now waits for right of way. (All Photographs by David Maxwell, 2nd April 2023)

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