| The Crich Tramway Village Tramathon 2003 by Gareth Prior
This page last updated 15 June 2003
On 8 June 2003 it was the annual Tramathon at the Crich Tramway Village in Derbyshire. This year was the first time I had been to Crich for 2 years and was also the first special event I had attended and what follows now is my account of the days events.|
The publicity produced by the museum promises ‘a rare opportunity to see all our working trams running’, and that is exactly what happens, with the notices at the entrance telling us that ‘up to 16’ trams would be running during the day. This year there were several of the normal operational trams which were not available for use due to various faults with Southampton 45 and Sheffield 510 in the Workshop and Blackpool & Fleetwood 2 and Glasgow 812 in the depot. However to make up for this Leeds 602, out of service for a number of years following the discovery of a leaky roof, was reintroduced into service the week before at the Coronation celebrations (it being in regal purple livery.) In total during the day 16 passenger trams were used in service whilst some of the engineering trams undertook runs on the running line (a full list of trams in use is at the end of this report).
The museum was open for a full 8 and a half hours meaning that there was plenty of time for all the trams to get ample use. I arrived at the museum just after 10am having stayed the previous night at a B&B in the village and at this time they were getting the trams out of the depot ready for service, with the first tram due to run at 10.30. The weather was looking quite dodgy from the outset of the day and heavy showers were forecast for the majority of the day. Luckily during the main part of the day it just remained cloudy with only 1 or 2 major showers and even luckier still the one big shower occurred whilst I was on MET 331, nice and enclosed! The trams ran out of the depot gates to the crossover before running down towards the Town End terminus with Blackpool Standard 40 the first tram in use. There were so many trams in use were so many that a large queue developed whilst they waited their turn for usage, at times this stretched to nearly the depot entrance.
The operation of the Tramathon saw the trams mainly travel in pairs with 3 points where they met (close to the entrance by the interlaced track, Wakebridge and the Glory Mine terminus). It defiantly is very complex operating 16 trams at a time on such a short stretch of track. Most of the trams performed excellently throughout the day although Leeds 180 spent a period during the middle of the day at the front of the workshop but was back in service by early afternoon.
In the afternoon Glasgow 1297 saw some daylight when it was moved from the back of the depot to the wash bay in the workshop. The diesel locomotive G.M.J first had to drag the out of service Johannesburg 60 onto the depot fan before 1297 could be extracted outside for the first time since last September. After several false starts it was possible to haul the tram out of the depot, using a rubber tyred vehicle, and dozens of people took photos of this rare event, with the tram not having seen service since 1989. After an afternoon in the wash bay the tram was put back into its same position at the back of depot at around 5pm with 60 going back in front of it. Later in the afternoon Sheffield 330, the Blackpool electric locomotive and G.M.J all made runs amongst the service trams, with 330 for a time stabled on the siding at Wakebridge Mine.
Since my last visit several changes have taken place at Crich, the most notable being the opening of the Workshop extension. This has seen a viewing platform and exhibition installed above the main workshop area so it is now possible to see the current restoration project, Leeds 345, as well as any other trams undergoing attention. In this instance Sheffield 510 and Southampton 45 were in the workshop having both developed recent faults meaning their use was not possible at the Tramathon. On the Leeds 345 front the bottom deck is now dismantled at the back of the workshop looking nothing like a tram whilst the major part of the restoration takes place. Meanwhile the top deck is looking splendid in the blue and white livery stored in the Exhibition Hall on an accommodation truck and if the complete restoration looks as good Crich will have an excellent addition to the fleet. The viewing platform is excellent and is a marvellous new attraction for the Museum.
The most recent addition to the street scene at the Town End is the extension to the John Price Memorial Library. The original façade of the Derby Assembly Rooms has now been joined by the Nelson Tramway Offices and the Yorkshire Penny Bank, and they certainly add to the scene looking excellent. Also on the other side of the street is the Red Lion Pub, from Stoke-on-Trent, which has been completed since my last visit and not only looks superb but also gives another source of income for the Museum.
There can be no doubt that the star of the days events was Leeds 602. It must have been the most popular tram to get a ride on and was getting photographed at every turn. The tram is currently the only tram operating in Britain with the Vambac equipment with Coronation 304 currently still under restoration in Blackpool and not ready for use.
All in all the Tramathon was an excellent day out and can be recommended to anyone who has never been to it with trams a plenty. Just think, it only costs £7 to get in for up to 8 and a half hours and you can ride on 16 trams, not bad value is it? The only disappointment was the weather, especially as I am writing this article in the blistering sun of just a week later!
Trams in Passenger Service:
Gateshead & District 5
London County Council 106
London Transport 1622
Works Cars out on main line:
Blackpool Electric Locomotive 717
Diesel Locomotive G.M.J.
Trams extracted from depot:
Related Links on British Trams Online
Crich Tramway Village Fleet List
Gallery 6: Crich Tramway Village
News Archive: January-April 2003
News Archive: September-December 2002
Hall of Fame: Southampton 45
Diary of Events
Related Internet Links
Official Website Only basic info at the moment as it is undergoing a re-design...for the last 6 months