Earlier this year, the working tramway at Beamish Museum celebrated its 40th anniversary with a special event, ‘Our Friends Electric’, which included a tramcar parade and two visiting cars from other museums. This is therefore a fitting time for the release of the first ever official DVD solely devoted to the museum’s tramway.
The 80-minute film starts with a brief history of the museum and the tramway’s origins, before taking a close look at the regular service cars in the Beamish fleet. This includes Gateshead 10 in both its familiar maroon and cream livery and the plain green paint applied last year to portray its later guise as Grimsby & Immingham 26. There is also a chance to see Beamish 196 in Gateshead colours before the stunning blue and yellow livery worn currently is featured. Naturally, the British Trams Online supported Blackpool ‘Boat’ 233 also appears as does Sheffield 513, although this tram is shown at Blackpool rather than its current home at Carlton Colville.
Perhaps the most interesting segment of the production deals with the various trams that have visited Beamish on short-term loan in recent years. This features Leeds 6 and Manchester 765 from the Heaton Park Tramway, Blackpool VAMBAC car 11 from East Anglia, the Lancastrian Transport trust’s Blackpool Coronation car 304, Lisbon 730 from Birkenhead and Glasgow 1068 from the National Tramway Museum. Regrettably this is not a definitive review of the visiting cars and Manchester L53, the only horse tram to have operated at Beamish to date, is a notable exception. However, the footage of the trams that are featured is of superb quality with some fantastic night shots, filmed outside the museum’s normal opening hours, of Blackpool cars 11 and 304 being a major highlight.
After an all too brief look at the impressive eight-car cavalcade arranged for the 40th anniversary event in April 2013, the programme concludes with a top deck ride around the entire tramway circuit aboard Sunderland 101/Blackpool 703. I found this segment rather boring as to me, such footage is no substitute for actually being there and riding on the trams, but anyone who has never visited Beamish Museum will probably enjoy this feature as it offers a taste of the tram riding experience offered there.
There is some room for improvement here, but overall this DVD comes highly recommended and as is normally the case with the company behind it, the quality of all footage is outstanding. If you want great film of vintage trams in a superb period setting, including some scenes that will probably never be repeated again, this is a must have item!
‘The Trams of Beamish Museum’ is produced by Train Crazy and is available now from Beamish Museum, the Blackpool Tram Shop, or online at www.tramsmagazine.co.uk – RRP £12.95