As usual British Trams Online webmaster Gareth Prior was in attendance at the annual Tramathon at the Crich Tramway Village – home of the National Tramway Museum. The publicity for the event says “a rare opportunity to see all our working trams running”, and that is more or less what you get for eight hours during the day – which was held on Sunday 10 June in 2007. Read on for a full report on the days events…
It was another different Tramathon at the Crich Tramway Village – home of the National Tramway Museum – in 2007 with several of the operational trams not being seen in service and no strange tram movements, or even tram line ups in the Depot Yard. However, having said that if you want to see lots of trams in service, and get rides on up to 15 trams in a day, Tramathon day is the best day to go to Crich – and that is exactly the way the publicity is aimed.
Following last years strange “split day” the event was back to the more traditional way of trams spending the whole day in service, although with a twist at the start of the day. Upon arrival just after 1000 there was only one tram in sight – Berlin 3006 at the Town End Terminus – with all the Depot Doors shut. The tram crews for the day were standing around at Town End before they made a move to the Depot for the dramatic sight of the trams entering service. This, however, didn’t start until around 1030 meaning there was half an hour after the opening of the Museum with only one tram in service. I did hear more than one person complaining: “You would have thought they would have had trams in service when they opened”.
When the Depot doors did fling open and the trams started to move forward there is no doubt it was spectacular for the many photographers and those with video cameras waiting, however, for those non-enthusiasts who just wanted to ride on trams this was a disappointing start to the day. But full marks to the organising committee in trying a different start to the day – and lets be honest there isn’t much different you can do on an all trams out day – but maybe in future if they wish a spectacular start to the day why not let photographers in earlier (for an extra fee of course) when the trams come out, as they have done at some railway open days in the past?
The trams coming out at this time into service (in absolutely no particular order, except the order I wrote them down in!) Glasgow 1297, Leeds 180, Blackpool Pantograph 167, Leeds 345, Johannesburg 60, London County Council 106, Metropolitan Electric Tramways 331, Sheffield 74, Liverpool 869, Gateshead 5, Glasgow 22, Blackpool & Fleetwood Rack 2 and Paisley 68. At this time the weather was cloudy, although still warm, with views from the trams across the Derwent Valley from the Wakebridge-Glory Mine section of tramway just a little murky – fortunately this did change mid afternoon when the sun finally broke through.
Liverpool 869 did not last long out on the mainline (it has been mentioned that the tram was only out on test following recent attention) with Chesterfield 7 entering service from mid-morning and then Glasgow 812 joining in from the afternoon.
One of the usual features of the Tramathon is that, during the afternoon, trams in the workshop will undergo test runs and engineering trams will be seen on the mainline. However, for 2007 this did not happen with the only engineering trams making a move being Blackpool Electric Locomotive 717 and the Modern Tower Wagon TW3 from the Depot to the side of the yard by the Exhibition Hall for an inspection of the overhead. Apart from this an engineering tram did not move a wheel and with the exception of a few shunting moves (Oporto 273 had to moved at the start of the day and London Transport 1622 moved from the Depot to the Workshop to name a couple) none of the out of service trams were let out for a run.
Also, just like 2006, there were no tram line ups in the depot yard as trams broke for lunch and the Exhibition Hall doors were not opened to allow for better shots of those trams at the front (this did of course happen last year). However, for a change, lunch breaks were taken by trams at the Wakebridge siding. Firstly, Glasgow 22 and Johannesburg 60 were seen here and then after they returned to service Leeds cars 180 and 345 had a short break. In addition Sheffield 74 was stabled at the Town End Terminus whilst its crew took a well earned lunch break.
This years event probably saw the largest number of trams in the “operational” fleet not being available because of defects for many years with Blackpool trams Standard 40 and Toastrack 166, Leeds 399, London Transport 1622 (for a second year in a row), Oporto 273, Sheffield 510 and Southampton 45 all not in service.
During the day it was possible, as always, to look over the Workshop from the viewing gallery to see the latest progress on London United Tramways 159 and also to see other trams undergoing attention – including Southampton 45. A walk round the Depots (where Halle 902 is looking quite sorry for itself all alone in Depot V with pantograph tied down) and the Exhibition Hall (although this hasn’t changed in appearance for many years – maybe time for a bit of a change here?) is always a must as well.
With the trams starting to return to depot late afternoon, the last few journeys were made and the final one of all left Town End just after 1800 with Paisley 68 doing the honours.
So, all in all the 2007 Tramathon did exactly what it said on the tin and there were up to 15 trams in service at any one time – enough for anyone who wanted to ride trams all day. However, as mentioned above there were a few disappointments with the day but they did not detract from what is always a good day out at the UK’s National Tramway Museum.
As always the Crich Tramway Village is well worth a visit if you have an interest in trams, or even if you don’t (but then if you don’t you aren’t likely to be reading this!), with many special events out on throughout the year – highlights still to come in 2007 include the Enthusiasts Day in September – with full details of those events available on the Diary of Events page. Don’t forget that museums like Crich rely on people going through the gates to raise money for the future.
Trams in Service:
Blackpool & Fleetwood Rack 2
Blackpool Pantograph 167
London County Council 106
Metropolitan Electric Tramways 331