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Last Updated Saturday 30th March 2013

Event Preview: Our Friends Electric
Written by Gareth Prior

Event: Our Friends Electric
Where: Beamish - the Living Museum of the North
When: Thursday 4th to Sunday 7th April (1000 to 1700 each day - last admission 1500)

2013 marks the 40th anniversary of the operation of trams at Beamish and to celebrate this milestone “Our Friends Electric” will be held at the Museum for four days at the start of April. Forming the start of Beamish’s Great North Festival of Transport (a 12 day celebration of vintage celebration which will carry on over the following two weekends as well) this event should see two visiting trams joining the resident fleet in operating an intensive four tram service on each day of the event and making a change from recent special events there this will run both clockwise and anti clockwise opening up extra photo opportunities. It is also planned that there will be changes in trams during each day so a large selection of trams can be sampled for rides or photography.

The two trams which are due to visit Beamish for this event are Lisbon 730 from the Birkenhead Heritage Tramway and Glasgow 1068 from the Crich Tramway Village but at the time of writing these both remained at their home bases because of transport difficulties over the past couple of weeks but it is hoped they will both make their way up to Beamish and be cleared for service in time for the start of the event on Thursday 4th April. Trams from the resident fleet which are expected to star during the four days include Grimsby & Immingham 26, Blackpool 31, Sunderland 101, Newcastle 114 and hopefully British Trams Online sponsored repaint Blackpool 233.

In addition to the main focus of the operating tram service there will be a number of other activities around the Museum site over the four days:
* Thursday 4th April: At 1530 in the Collections Study Room, Paul Jarman (Beamish’s Head of Transport and Industry) and Les Brunton (Beamish Tramway Group) will be giving a talk on the tramway.
* Saturday 6th & Sunday 7th April: After a success last year the Model Tramway Exhibition will be returning.
* Saturday 6th April: Evening tram parade and photography session starting at 1800 and running through until 2100. As well as the trams in the town this session will also feature scenes at Rowley Railway Station. Lisbon 730 and Glasgow 1068 are confirmed to feature on the tramway side and there will also be a selection of trams from the home fleet. Tickets cost £15 for the photography session and are limited to 75 – you can either purchase in advance by contacting the Museum or purchase one of a small number on the door on the evening. More details here.
* Daily at 1100, 1200, 1300 and 1400 will see tours of the new Regional Heritage Engineering Centre. Limited to 20-25 per tour these will start from the front of the tram depot.
* There will be family activities including printing, storytelling and spot the tram.
* The railways at Rowley Station, the Waggonway and the Colliery will all be in operation and steam, vintage and veteran vehicles will be taking to the roads.

Although there have been disappointments in the lead up to this event it is shaping up to one of the highlights of 2013 with two visiting trams in operation alongside some of the popular home fleet and some surprises are promised over the four days as well! Why not pay a visit to Beamish for one or more of the days?

“Support our Heritage Tramways”

The Lowdown on...Beamish - The Living Museum of the North

Beamish - The Living Museum of the North

Beamish is billed as the North East’s Living Museum and aims to recreate a sense of what life in the region was like in two very different periods in history, with the Pockerley area set in 1825, and the remainder of the site focussing on 1913. This includes a superb period Town complete with cobbled street and many recreated buildings such as a sweet shop, garage, Masonic Hall and a pub. Other attractions on site include the Colliery village, a railway station and Home Farm as well as the aforementioned Pockerley Manor which also has its own steam waggonway. A fleet of vintage trams and replica buses are used to transport visitors around the site, serving all of these attractions and giving a real sense of a transport network from days gone by. In recent years the resident fleet have been supplemented by several visiting trams for special events, with the likes of Manchester 765 and Blackpool VAMBAC 11 having proven extremely popular at past events. The tramway here is the longest of any museum line in the country at one-and-a-half miles, with trams normally running around the circular route in both directions. Four trams are expected to be in service daily during this event.

The Trams

Beamish has an ever expanding home tram fleet and this is due to be supplemented by Lisbon 730 (from Birkenhead) and Glasgow 1068 (from Crich) for this event. It is expected that these two trams will see extensive use over the four days and they will be joined by a selection of vehicles from the home fleet, including Grimsby & Immingham 26, Blackpool 31, Sunderland 101, Newcastle 114 and Blackpool 233.

How to find the Museum

Probably the easiest way to get to Beamish is by car with the museum being well signposted from the A1M, Junction 63. For anyone using Sat-nav the postcode is DH9 0RG.

For public transport users the nearest main-line station is Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Chester-le-Street is closer but suffers from an irregular train service). Service buses run regularly from Newcastle City Centre to the Museum Entrance Gates. The Waggonway service 28/28A runs from Newcastle to Chester-le-Street via Gateshead, Low Fell, Birtley and Ouston with buses every 30 minutes during Monday to Saturday daytimes and hourly on Sundays and evenings. On Saturdays throughout the Summer it is also possible to travel on the 128 from Durham City Centre (buses run every hour). Lime service 8 also runs every 30 minutes Monday to Saturday from Sunderland Interchange via Washington, Chester-le-Street and Stanley. For full details of the buses and timetables visit the GO North East website here.

Full details on how to get to the Museum can be found on their website here.

How Much Does it Cost?

Admission prices cost £17.50 for adults, £10 for children (aged 5-16), £13 for 60s and over, £13 for students and two family tickets are available - £46 for 2 adults and 2 children and £32 for 1 adult and 2 children. The admission price actually allows visitors to revisit as often as they wish for up to one year, so potentially you can visit all four days of the event, and only pay once! Please note that some extra activities may incur a small additional charge.

You are strongly encouraged to pre-book a ticket on the Beamish Museum website before visiting as this enables you to join a ‘fast-track’ queue, so that you can bypass the general admission queue which is traditionally very big on busy event days and will potentially save you a considerable amount of time. With so much to see and do at this Museum, every minute you have will count - so be sure to make the best of your time! Click here for more information on pre-booking your tickets.

Want to Know More?

The official Beamish website can be found here with plenty of information on the Museum and how to buy admission tickets in advance.

For any updates on Our Friends Electric please visit the Transport and Industry News at Beamish Museum Blog here which is regularly updated by Paul Jarman, Head of Transport and Industry. This will include up-to-date information regarding the arrival of trams.


Without even looking at the weather forecast I think we can safely say it is likely to be cold as the never ending winter continues even as we hit British Summer Time! The BBC Weather forecast for nearby Chester-le-Street can be found here.

Online Coverage

British Trams Online will be providing live coverage from the first day and two thirds (!) of Our Friends Electric on Facebook (as long as it not too cold!).

After the event has taken place we will be providing the level of coverage you would expect from us with a large photo gallery and an article detailing just what went on. This is likely to be added to the website on the weekend of 13th/14th April.

All information in this preview is provided in good faith and is, to the best of our knowledge, correct at the time of going to press, although all planned events are subject to change or cancellation if unforeseen circumstances dictate. Please note that this event is not organised by British Trams Online and that we cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies contained in this article. If you plan to visit for any specific attraction, we would advise you to check the websites mentioned in this feature before travelling. We will of course endeavour to keep our news page updated with any new developments involving any of the trams that are due to appear at this event.

Additional Reporting by Andrew Waddington

British Trams Online is an enthusiast run website for enthusiasts. It should be able to be viewed at all screen resolutions but I do advise you that it is probably best at 1024x768. The site is owned, maintained (and in the main written) by Gareth Prior. Any comments or suggestions please email.