News | Fleet Lists | Gallery | Articles | Tram Profiles | Tram of the Year | Diary of Events | Links | About the Site | Email

Last Updated Sunday 21st August 2011

Event Preview: Beamish's Power from the Past 2011 Preview

Event: Power from the Past - Riding for Pleasure
Where: Beamish - The Living Museum of the North
When: Thursday 1st to Sunday 4th September inclusive

This September sees the third annual ‘Power from the Past’ event taking place at the massively popular open-air museum at Beamish. This event has rapidly grown to become one of the most exciting and innovative vintage transport events in the UK, and for 2011 a theme of ‘Riding for Pleasure: Circular Tour’ has been adopted, following the success of last year’s ‘Corporations & Contractors’ theme which saw various road and rail maintenance vehicles steal the show. Although many of the confirmed exhibits seem to suggest that the proposed theme has slightly fallen by the wayside, a fantastic variety of historic machines are still expected to feature, many of which will be visiting just for this event. As is usual for Beamish, a whole host of steam engines, road rollers, cars, buses, horse-drawn vehicles and much more are expected to feature... and best of all the majority of these will be in operation around the museum site, with steam locos shunting in the colliery and traction engines amongst the many vehicles operating around the entire site.

The big highlight for tram enthusiasts will be the visit of Blackpool Marton VAMBAC Railcoach 11, courtesy of the East Anglia Transport Museum. This will be the first time this tram has ever been loaned out to another tramway, and the aborted plans to return this iconic tram to Blackpool last year will make this visit even more special. As the tram line at East Anglia is rather short, this will also provide the opportunity for a really good long ride on 11 – something it has missed since the 1960s when it ran at Blackpool for the final time!

* Please note a full list of planned exhibits for the event can be found on a special Flickr page set up. This can be found here.

Andrew Waddington - Contributing Writer

In addition to the main event Beamish are running a special evening for photographers on Saturday 3rd September between 1745 and 2100 at a cost of £10 per person with pre-booking essential.

Unique photo opportunities will be available in both the Edwardian Town and the Colliery Yard. The following star exhibits have been confirmed for the evening:
* Yorktown Peckett 0-4-0ST ‘Teddy’ and from the Middleton Railway in Leeds MSC No.67 in operation at the Colliery Railway.
* Between 1800 and 1900 the Museum will operate a procession of all visiting trams (including Marton Vambac 11) and the Museum's home fleet of trams through the Edwardian town street.
* Between 1900 and 2100 the Museum will pose two trams on the Town street alongside traction engines and various other period transport.

Costumed demonstrators will also be on hand to add to the atmosphere and a period bus service will run regularly to transport photographers between locations.

To reserve a place (limited to 200) you can book online, phone 0191 370 4000 or email.

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

Beamish - 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 Museum has paid ever more attention to its excellent transport collection, and the increasingly extravagant events being held there have seen many vehicles from elsewhere operate around the huge 300-acre site, including several visiting tramcars.

The Trams

As mentioned above, the star of this year’s ‘Power from the Past’ event – at least from a tram perspective – will be Blackpool 11 which is set to make its first ever trip away from the East Anglia Transport Museum. Hopefully there will be opportunities to see this tram alongside Blackpool 31 to give the unique sight of two trams which operated on the Marton route in Blackpool during different time periods running together. As an added bonus 31 is due to carry ‘Circular Tour’ headboards made especially for the event. However, a recent fault with 31 may scupper these plans, but the chance to experience car 11 on the Beamish circuit will nonetheless be something to savour!

Besides visitors the native tram fleet at Beamish are also worthy of our attention. The running fleet consists of Newcastle 114, which was recently repainted in a more authentic rendition of its brown, yellow and cream livery, along with Gateshead 10, Sunderland 16, Blackpool 31 and Beamish (ex-Oporto) 196. There are also two trams on long-term loan currently on site; Leeds 6 from the Heaton Park Tramway which was actually one of the stars of last year’s event, and Sunderland 101 alias Blackpool ‘Balloon’ 703 from the Lancastrian Transport Trust collection. It is hoped that this latter car may be able to play some role in the event due to its seaside origins following a recent successful test run and a passenger debut is looking increasingly possible.

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). Full detailed information on bus times can be found on Traveline North East here.

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

How Much Will it Cost?

Admission to Beamish Museum is priced at £16, which may seem rather expensive on the surface, but considering the sheer amount of things to see and do is actually very good value for money – especially seeing as this cost allows you to visit again as many times as you like for the remainder of the year! The admission price includes unlimited free tram rides and remains the same for events such as ‘Power from the Past’, although some of the extra activities on offer may involve a small additional charge.

Readers of this website are strongly advised to pre-book a ticket on the beamish website before visiting as this enables you to join a ‘fast-track’ queue, and this allows you to bypass the general admission queue which is traditionally very big on busy event days. At the ‘Great North Steam Fair’ in April 2011 some visitors reportedly had to queue for around an hour just to get in, and with so much on offer once you get inside, you really don’t want to waste so much time!

Want to Know More?

The official Beamish website can be found here with plenty of information on the Museum.

For any updates on Power from the Past visit Paul Jarman’s – Transport Curator – excellent blog here.


To find out what the weather might be doing click here for the BBC 5 day weather forecast for Chester-le-Street, only 3 miles away (please note Beamish is not an option on the BBC Weather website!)

Online Coverage

Keep any eye on Yahoo! Groups: Tramgen during all four days of the event to see if there are any updates. Also a new feature on our Facebook group may be in operation on some of the days of event - Live From....

There will be extensive coverage on British Trams Online sometime during September but there are no guarantees quite when this will be due to staff holidays!

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 (Sunday 21st August 2011).

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.