Crich Tramway Village Tramathon 2005

One of these days the team behind the scenes at Crich organising the special events are going to run out of new and exciting things to do on these days! On Sunday 12 June it was the annual Crich Tramway Village Tramathon and it was a record breaking day with 29 trams and engineering vehicles out on the main line during the afternoon. Gareth Prior reports from the day’s events…

The Tramathon started as any other would with all operational passenger trams sent out to give the first rides of the day (a complete list of trams used on the day can be found at the end of this report). Whereas at my last Tramathon visit two years ago (see here for the report) there were several trams unavailable due to faults there was almost a complete full house of available trams at the 2005 event. However, Glasgow 1297 (currently undergoing overhaul in the workshop for a return to service), Leeds 345 (the major restoration not yet completed), Halle 902 (work has not yet commenced on conversion of this to the second Access Tram) and Sheffield 510 (parked at the Wakebridge siding – presumably suffering from a minor fault) were not available meaning only eighteen passenger trams were available for the public to ride on.

On my arrival at the Museum the first place to visit has to be the Depot Yard to see what exciting things had been put out for display. This is often one of the best things about the Tramathon as on a normal operating day at the Museum there are still many trams not accessible for photography but on a day like this they are. Perhaps the major highlight for me was the fact that Blackpool Conduit 4 had still not been put back into the Exhibition Hall after its holiday on the main line for the 50th Anniversary Celebrations a couple of weeks previously and was proudly standing there on the Depot fan. It was joined in the yard by Berlin 3006 alongside Halle 902 – the two Access trams together, a host of works vehicles (Sheffield Works 330, Leeds Tower Wagon 2, Blackpool Electric Locomotive 717 and the diesel locomotives GMJ and Rupert) and, yet another highlight, Grimsby and Immingham 14 – making a rare appearance in the open air. This meant that the two main depots were almost completely empty (the only item in there, and that was right on the edge, was the Modern Tower Wagon TW3).

As well as the exciting trams on the Depot Fan there were Leeds 345, Glasgow 1297 and the shell of London United Tramways 159 in the Workshop and the Exhibition Hall’s main shutter doors by the Traverser were open meaning good views could be had of the trams shut away here.

During the late morning there was a lot of shifting of the Engineering Vehicles in the Depot Yard so that the lunchtime run in of trams could be organised. This year it was decided that there would be two themes of run ins – one Glasgow and the other Blackpool. As well as running Glasgow 22, Glasgow 812, Paisley 68 and Liverpool 869 in the Depot Yard, Glasgow 1282 and Glasgow 1100 were dragged out of the Exhibition Hall and stabled alongside. 1282 was the first to be extracted and after the wheels were eventually persuaded to get moving it was placed on the Traverser and then towed in front of this. 1100 was then also moved from the Exhibition Hall and was left on the Traverser in the front of the depot and behind 1282. This then allowed photo opportunities of six Glasgow trams (869 was sold on to Glasgow after the closure of Liverpool’s tramways) in front of the Depot, recreating a Glasgow Depot of days gone by.

After the crews on these trams had their lunch breaks 22, 812, 68 and 869 returned to work passenger journeys on the main line and their place in the Depot Yard was to be taken by the Blackpool trams. Blackpool and Fleetwood Crossbench 2, Blackpool Standard 40, Blackpool Toastrack 166 and Blackpool Pantograph 167 were all brought in to the yard and they were joined by the already stabled Blackpool Conduit 4 (which had moved across the yard) and Blackpool Standard 49 which was extracted from the Depot and stabled on the Traverser. Again a line up of six trams from one town were available for excellent photographic opportunities.

Whilst all of these line ups were being organised and put into practice Berlin 3006 had joined the Tramathon fun, replacing Gateshead 5 in service. 5 presumably picked up a fault as it was kept at the Town End Terminus for the rest of the day.

The main fun, however, was still to come with the attempt at breaking their own record of number of trams out on the main line taking place after lunch. The Engineering Vehicles and Locomotives were the first to leave the Depot confines with Leeds Tower Wagon 2, Sheffield Works 330, Blackpool Electric Locomotive 717, GMJ and Rupert all making appearances. GMJ and Rupert were coupled together to save a driver for other vehicles and trams.

After the Engineering Vehicles came the most exciting movements of the day as Blackpool Conduit 4, Leeds 345 and Halle 902 all joined the queue at Town End at one stage in the afternoon to travel along the tramway. None of these three trams were in passenger service but were undergoing “Workshop Tests” (for 345 and 902) and demonstration runs (4). 902 made at least one appearance as far north as Wakebridge and then turned and went back south. The problem with 902 at the moment appears to be the fact that it consumes an awful lot of power and so pushes the substation to the limit. With these three all out on the main running line it gave Crich a brand new record of 29 trams and engineering vehicles out at one time – even though Gateshead 5 and Sheffield 510 were stationary at this time.

Both the Blackpool Electric Locomotive 717 and GMJ and Rupert were stabled in front of Gateshead 5 at the Town End Terminus after they had made their initial runs on the main line, although many of the other Engineering Vehicles and not in service trams made several journeys along the tramway.

From around 4.30 pm a “tidy up” of trams commenced with those stabled in the Depot Yard being put back into the actual Depot such as Grimsby and Immingham 14 and Halle 902 (after it had returned from its trips on the main line). From the Town End Terminus there was a mini cavalcade of trams as GMJ, Rupert and the Blackpool Electric Locomotive 717 were towing the broken Gateshead 5 back to the Depot. On reaching the Depot Entrance the two diesel locos were removed and 717 pushed 5 towards the Workshop so that it could receive attention to its fault. From then on gradually trams started to return to the Depot Yard and after cleaning they were returned to their respective position in the Depot. Blackpool Conduit 4 was moved back to the Workshop (where it appears to be currently stored), Leeds 345 also returned to the Workshop and Blackpool Standard 49 was also pushed back into its place in the Depot via the Traverser.

All in all the 2005 Tramathon at Crich was another successful event and seemed to be well attended by both enthusiasts and also normal members of the public. If you have never been to the Tramathon I hope that this whets your appetite for the future and will; persuade you to do it next year! In the meantime there are several more Special Events planned at the Crich Tramway Village in 2005 including the only chance to ride on a real horse tram this year – pulled by a horse (Sheffield 15) at the Edwardian Weekend (9/10 July) and the Enthusiasts Day (24 September) where it is planned to launch Leeds 345 into service.

Trams in Passenger Service:

Berlin 3006 (from lunchtime)

Blackpool and Fleetwood Crossbench 2

Blackpool Standard 40

Blackpool Toastrack 166

Blackpool Pantograph 167

Chesterfield 7

Gateshead 5 (until lunchtime)

Glasgow 22

Glasgow 812

Leeds 180

Leeds 399

Leeds 602

Liverpool 869

London County Council 106

London Transport 1622

Metropolitan Feltham 331

Oporto 273

Paisley 68

Sheffield 74

Southampton 45

Trams on Test, Demonstration Runs & Engineering Vehicles on Main Line:

Blackpool Conduit 4

Blackpool Electric Locomotive 717


Halle 902

Leeds Tower Wagon 2

Leeds 345


Sheffield Works 330

Tram stabled at Wakebridge Siding All Day:

Sheffield 510

Trams stabled in Depot Yard (and didn’t make it out onto Main Line!):

Blackpool Standard 49

Glasgow 1100

Glasgow 1282

Grimsby and Immingham 14

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