Blackpool tram running day announced for Crich

Fresh from the mammoth ‘Electric 50’ celebratory weekend, the Tramway Museum Society have announced details of yet another exciting event for enthusiasts to be held at Crich Tramway Village. On Sunday 12th October, it is planned to have nine Blackpool trams in operation, primarily to mark the 80th birthday of visiting Blackpool Balloon car 711.

711 actually entered service in Blackpool on 8th October 1934, and so this event will be held on the closest weekend to this actual date. Of course the tram has changed almost beyond recognition during this time – having started life as an open-top streamliner, the car was enclosed after a few years and subsequently rebuilt with many modern features in 1994, being further modified more recently with the fitting of widened centre platforms and driver-controlled doors. Despite these changes, to reach 80 years of service is still a very impressive achievement and one that deserves to be celebrated.

To mark this milestone, the nine Blackpool trams currently available for passenger service at Crich are all due to appear in service on Sunday 12th October. This will also be the very last day of service for Blackpool & Fleetwood Rack 2 (before it is withdrawn for its eight year overhaul which will include the replacement of its worn tyres) and Box 40 (before it leaves Crich once again and resumes its loan period with Blackpool Transport). The other Blackpool cars in service should consist of Standard 40, Toastrack 166, Pantograph car 167, Open Boat 236, Brush Railcoach 630 and Jubilee car 762. The event will mainly be promoted as a chance to ride on all of these Blackpool trams, representing a diverse selection of vehicle types from the same system, although some additional photo opportunities may also be staged. The idea of holding a fairly low-key event to appeal to the many fans of Blackpool’s historic trams whilst a record number of cars from the seaside town are available to run at Crich is certainly a good one, and will hopefully attract many extra visitors to the museum on what would otherwise have been a normal open day.

Modified Balloon 711 reverses at the museum's Glory Mine terminus whilst in service on Saturday 13th September during the 'Electric 50' event, just a few weeks ahead of its own 80th birthday. (Photo by Andrew Waddington)


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25 Responses to Blackpool tram running day announced for Crich

  1. A. D. Young says:

    And the Dreadnought, No 59, one of the most iconic British, never mind Blackpool, cars of all time? Out of sight, out of mind it seems.

    Sorry, I hope I’m wrong, but without wanting to minimise the problems with 59 which have sidelined it for so long, I think it’s disgraceful the car won’t participate in this event, not even if it were brought in on a lowloader for a brief display before being banished back to Clay Cross.

    And by the way, when will its turn come for a Crich “makeover?”

    • Colin Smith says:

      I could be, and sincerely hope that I am, completely wrong, but as I see it the major problem with trying to return this tram to public service lies in the fact that its design would have the health and safety boffins in apoplectic state. Access to the tram is extremely problematic, even for physically fit passengers. I’m in no way suggesting that it is to be left sidelined because it is not DDA compliant but just that the height of the step access would challenge many young , physically fit passengers. There is also the point that loading and unloading is directly to and from the tracks. Okay, that should not be a problem at Crich. But will the H & S people see it that way? I doubt it, even though I would love to see 59 back in service.

      • Phill says:

        From what I understand, this isn’t the case. Firstly, DDA doesn’t apply to vintage trams. Leeds 180 has very high steps too, but runs fine. Whilst the end loading isn’t ideal, with suitable safe systems of work, it will be fine. Remember, HSE done properly isn’t there to stop you doing things. It is there to ensure that you don’t get hurt. A good example being hanging off the side of 166 to collect fares-this is clearly dangerous, so fares are done upon boarding. We are also extremely fortunate to have a number of ex railway professionals who are willing to do the paperwork that allows us to see the trams run.

        There are two obstacles to dragging out 59-an OMO car in the way, and buildings that have sprung up since it went in. It can be extracted, but for the effort and cost involved, probably not worth it for a quick event. Still, who knows what the future may hold?

      • Christopher Callan says:

        Blackpool have made it clear quite recently a restored 59 would be very much able to operate at Blackpool with a few restrictions regarding where on the track it would load (pleasure beach loop round tour).

        Whilst for me 59 situation is lamentable thinks its unfair to say it should be brought back for an event like this. The event is an attempt to minimise the huge drop off in visitors usually seen at the end of the season. Very Unfair to criticise them for not doing such mammoth undertakings for what is low key low budget event

        Personally this type of event would have been ideal for the Summer. Ill be supporting Blackpools own Lights Tours operation in October instead (despite it been further and more expensive as result to get their…) Sounds like their will be some surprises for the lights tours in October.

    • tony stevenson says:

      All you good trams fans out there, pay attention please, if you want to see Blackpool 59 restored join the T.M.S and then the T.S.O . this is the fund raising organization that will have to pay for it and it will not be cheap. There are lots of people at Crich who would like this to happen, but its a lot of cash, so stop all the petty criticism and join the above and make it happen. Tony Stevenson

      • Andrew Waddington says:

        Just one question: is it known for a definite fact that the TMS are willing to restore 59? After all someone provided all of the required funding to restore Leeds 602 and look what happened (or rather didn’t happen) there…

        As an aside, whilst I and many others appreciate the good work the TSO do, they wouldn’t necessarily HAVE to pay for 59 to get it done. The Heritage Lottery Fund is another possibility – and dare I say a lot of people would much rather see it restored and running at Blackpool, if the required finance could be raised.

        Anyway this is all going off topic – for the record I think the Blackpool running day at Crich is a great idea and anyone expecting 59 to be part of it is being very unrealistic!

        • Phill says:

          Andrew, much as I share some of your frustrations over 602, to suggest it precludes all other trams from being restored is incorrect. In the case of 59, it isn’t very original, and is in a poor, though stable, condition. A much better comparison is LCC 1, whose poor condition means it is being restored despite being one of the most “as withdrawn” trams in the fleet.
          So I doubt we have anything to worry about on that.

      • Paul D says:

        The tramway preservation world doesn’t end with the TMS and the TSO… There is another Blackpool based organisation of which many members have expressed a keenness to see 59 restored and a willingness to contribute significantly provided it is released to run in Blackpool, and yes BT Heritage Tours would welcome it and operate it.

        • Paul says:

          Haven’t the Blackpool Hertiage Trust enough if their own cars to work on? It would be asking a lot for them to finance work on someone else’s tram. Tony is spot on – if you want it to happen join the TMS/TSO and work to influence their support. The FTS did have an appeal but I doubt this earned much.

          • Andrew Waddington says:

            I agree with Paul D on this one. If the Lottery or similar funding body could be convinced of 59’s value then maybe it would be do-able. Crich also have a very large collection of trams and it could certainly be argued that 59’s value to Blackpool is greater than its value to Crich.

        • BigG says:

          The tramway preservation world doesn’t end with the TMS and the TSO, certainly, but 59 is in the ownership and care of the TMS, and the TSO is their primary source of funding for preservation.

          Are you acting as a spokesperson for either the “other Blackpool based organisation”, or BTS Heritage Tours. If not, on what are you basing your asssertions? And is it documented or hearsay?

          The TMS 5 year strategy document clearly gives as a mid-term key project (p10 of the document) “Dreadnought restoration”. The long term projects include a “Steam tram” and a “Manchester Bogie car”. There are no other tramcar related key projects listed. Under “key activities” (p11) the restoration project commencing 31/3/18 (after completion of LCC1) is “Start tram B”. Whilst there are no firm commitments, the impliications are clear.

          Tony Stevenson is talking sense and, for those who see a Crich restoration as incompatible with 59 ever gracing Blackpool metals again there are two ripostes: “167” and “Box40”

          • Paul D says:

            The FTS/TSO fund actually raised quite a substantial amount – without it, Box 40 may not have made it for Electric 50 and the last FTS AGM, 59 was identified as a priority, some going so far as suggesting that release of funds for 40 be conditional on action on 59…

            If external funding can be sourced, be it FTS, Lottery or private appeal, it may actually suit all parties for BT to do the restoration on a contract basis. TMS get the car restored without tieing up the workshop for 2-3 years; the income helps BT Heritage keep their workshop team employed and the loan of the tram for a period of time; and the enthusiasts finally get to ride one of the most elusive and sought after trams in the UK!

  2. Ken Walker says:

    There will be almost as many Blackpool trams running at Crich as there will be at Blackpool on that day!

  3. Christopher Callan says:

    Having looked at the dates. May well end up doing both. This even then followed a few weeks later October Half Term Visit to Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours Lights Operation for the week and enjoy the enhanced service (details due soon apparently with “watch this space mentioned on the Official Facebook Page)

    A good solid turnout and who knows perhaps they would consider giving it a more prominent place in the calendar with a expanded program in the future.

  4. nigel says:

    As I have said on a facebook group what a shame its a Sunday. Public transport is a nightmare and is going to lead to a loss of visitors who do not have their own transport. But hope it goes well for Crich as it looks a good event.

    • Dan says:

      I think most people who go there go without public transport. It’s already pretty limited during the rest of the week.

      • Gareth Prior says:

        Although there is no doubt most people do go by car you would be surprised by how many people do actually get there by public transport. Nigel has a very good point about the atrocious public transport service on a Sunday – the first train of the day doesn’t get to Whatstandwell until after 10 and if you want to make a connection with that train any further south than Derby/Nottingham – forget it! I was amazed when I saw the times of the first train on a Sunday on the Midland Mainline (for example from Leicester the first train north is some 5 and a half hours later than on any other day of the week!) The bus service is probably worse with about 2 services to Crich all day.

        Crich certainly isn’t alone in its public transport difficulties on a Sunday (Seaton is another one which has very limited access on a Sunday). It just seems that although society has changed and Sundays are no longer a day spent staying at home, going to church etc. the railways are still living in that society (and yes I am well aware there are reasons for the later start although quite why the east Midlands seems to be so bad is beyond me).

        • I did a few checks. I still believe that taking a bus from Alfreton station to Crich is sometimes the better option than going via Whatstandwell or Matlock. There are buses at 10:40 and then every two hours on Sundays with reasonable connections from Manchester, Leeds, York and Birmingham. On the way back, there are buses at 10:08 and then every two hours until 18:08 with good connections from Alfreton. I never tries that, though.

          • Gordon Burch says:

            One suggestion. If you know of other people who might be using public transport it might be worth considering sharing a taxi. In particular Amber Taxis, based in Alfreton, have some 8 seaters and have quoted £16 to hire one to to Crich. their telephone number is: 01773 836100

      • Ken Walker says:

        Extend the tramway down the road to Whatstandwell station then (I’ll go to and take shelter now!)

  5. Ralph Oakes-Garnett says:

    Would need good brakes! Cable tramway would be better bet. lol

  6. Peter G says:

    I wonder if the Daily Mirror would sponsor 59 again like they did when I was a little lad in the mid 60’s?.

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