Crich to scrap London horse tram

A surprise new arrival at Crich Tramway Village during the final days of 2013 was the unrestored body of a North Metropolitan horse tramcar, which has been housed at the Tramway Museum Society’s Clay Cross store for many years. However, this development is not a good one, and actually marks the end of the road for this tram which is destined to be broken up at the museum, rather than restored. A review of the horse tram’s future was deemed appropriate as it was one of two derelict horse tram bodies positioned in front of Gateshead 52, which is shortly to be removed from the building and transferred to a new home at Beamish Museum, where it will eventually be restored to full working order. With this in mind, a rare shunting exercise took place at Clay Cross to move two horse trams in order to clear a path for 52 to make its escape early next year. First to move was the Society’s unrestored Eades reversible car, and this was followed by the North Metropolitan car. This tram is in an extremely delicate condition, with supporting beams used to hold it together! The car was carefully moved outside and onto a waiting low loader provided by Scott’s Heavy Haulage, before making the fairly short journey to Crich. There, it was unloaded in the depot yard where it was briefly posed to be photographed by staff and volunteers on site, before being moved into track 1 of the workshop. There, the tram will be dismantled although some parts are expected to be retained for potential re-use in connection with other horse tramcars in the distant future. The decision has been made to dispose of the horse tram as its extremely poor condition would make any restoration of the vehicle effectively a replication, and with other similar cars in existence it was decided by the Society’s Tramcar Conservation Committee that it was not worth retaining in its current form. It was also felt that the tram was in too poor a state to be transferred to another organisation – despite at least one preservation group having shown some interest in acquiring it! This is clearly a very sad end for a vehicle that has clung to life for more than a century, although as stated above some components will survive. It is also believed that this is the tram which had one side cut away and used to create a display cabinet which can now be seen inside the museum’s Exhibition Hall, so at least some of it will remain on display as a reminder of its existence.

The disposal of such an old tramcar is never likely to be a popular decision, although the official Crich Tramway Village website describes the operation as ‘deconstructing’ it, presumably in an attempt to make its destruction seem less brutal. Hopefully if the TMS decide to get rid of any other unrestored trams, it is to be sincerely hoped that other museums will have an opportunity to re-home them, rather than an assumption being made that the vehicle in question is beyond salvation simply because it is not required in the national collection. 

Probably the only opportunity to see the North Metropolitan horse car in its current condition outside at Crich, shortly before it was moved into the workshop to be broken up. (Photo courtesy of Crich Tramway Village)


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43 Responses to Crich to scrap London horse tram

  1. Ralph Oakes-Garnett says:

    Moves like this only help to fuel the anti Crich feeling. Having just looked at the photograph supplied I am very disappointed. The tram could have been given to whatever group wanted to restore it. Let’s face it many trams and indeed bus resorations amount to a total rebuild to the same pattern. Very difficult these days to say that something is beyond restoration. Look at the Eades tram in Manchester for one.

  2. Phill says:

    First, this one had both its sides present, so unlikely to be the one in the exhibition hall.
    Second, it will be carefully dismantled to record it, and provide spare parts/patterns for future projects.

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      Thanks for this, very interesting. Does this indicate that the display case is made out of another London horse car, and if so, does the rest of it still exist?

      • Phill says:

        Yes, Number 39 (The display case) was another horse car, I think North Met too. It has a different number of windows to this one. There are various odd sides and body bits about, I don’t know if any of those are part of it.
        Which gives the decision a bit more context. On the one hand, it would be a huge project, every last bit of wood is scrap. We could only dispose of it to someone with a proper, costed plan to do it, and no one is that daft! On the other hand, it is a valuable source of spare parts and patterns for future projects.

  3. Tommy Carr says:

    Didn’t the NEETT have interest in this one at one point?

  4. Deckerman says:

    Whilst I can certainly see both sides of the argument regarding the potential and effective demise of such a long lived and still fairly rare car, I would think the gut feeling of most enthusiasts will be that it will be seen as a loss.
    Furthermore, with recent “decisions” at Crich not exactly seeming to being in line with most sensible thinking, this sadly will do nothing to help restore Crich’s less and less tenable position as the leading “restorer” in the UK. And it does seem even more of a shame that it apparently must go, especially when it apparently had a saviour that had offered to enable it to take it on.

    So why “deconstruct” it, especially if it’s not apparently of any significance to them? What horse car is it going to help save in the future, or are the salvaged parts in reality just going to rot somewhere else on site until they end up helping celebrate November the 5th one year?

    Also, it does appear that the far side of the car from the photo at least in part is missing, so it may indeed be the display case donor car mentioned, but I could be corrected.

    Finally, and to a point perhaps mostly, (but not totally), jokingly, perhaps this is one of the ways Crich hope to boost their sadly but frankly deservedly diminishing visitor numbers, by them pre publicising a forthcoming “death” in the hope that people will flock through the turnstiles ( “Kerr..ching!!”) to see it, before it finally meets it’s maker. Even perhaps then selling the useless bits of it off as souvenirs like the Berlin Wall when it was torn apart.

    If they are that desperate for funds and visitors, God help us and the current fleet, especially those at Clay Cross! Happy New Year, Dreadnought 59?

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      I doubt that any extra visitors will be encouraged to go and see the remains of this poor tram, as the museum is currently closed for winter. By the time it re-opens in late March I would suspect that the process of ‘de-constructing’ it will be complete.

      • Deckerman says:

        I of course agree Andrew. but as I said in my original response, I wasn’t being particularly serious. However, as there didn’t seem to be a specific date stated for the deconstruction/ cannibalism/vandalism (dependent upon your personal viewpoint), then it was just possible that Crich might have reopened by the time of the “event”, so whilst admittedly my comments were a little tongue in cheek….that said… it may just have been thought by the TMS, to have brought in a few more bums on seats. Who knows how, or even whether, Crich thinks anymore? So as they say…stranger things!!

    • Appalled of Derby says:

      Possibly the funniest thing I’ve read so far! I’m sure that it would be far better to leave it under a tarpaulin outside in the north east, then rebuild it with some B&Q decking pine. Also, how dare Crich inform people what they are doing? They’re supposed to be on a level with Pyongyang for secrecy. And thrice damn them for producing such over restored showpieces as 159. They ought to do like the LTT-coat of Wickes gloss, put the windows back in then sell it to America.

      • Andrew Waddington says:

        Your comments are rather offensive to north east preservationists, by suggesting that they are incapable of looking after a tram like this. Who says it would be stood outside under a tarp? As for the B&Q decking pine, a workshop tour at Crich gave the impression that LUT 159’s ornate ceiling is made up of some pretty cheap and ordinary materials, but hey, it looks the part so does it matter? For the record I love Crich but when people criticise others’ efforts to defend the museum all it does is create feelings of resentment, and quite understandably so.

  5. Christoph Heuer says:

    Come on folks, calm down! If you read the original entry on the TMS website, the car in question seems to be well gone. So what really seems to happen is the first part of a typical Crich restoration, a full one, not the eight-year overhaul: Take the tram to bits, measure anything that is there, keep the things that can be kept, dump everything that is too far gone. Only the next steps will not follow immediately: Make new parts to replace those which were missing or not salvageable and put them together again. Just look at the work that has gone into, say, Sheffield 74, Chesterfield 7, LT 1622, Leeds 345, Porto 273 or LUT 159. They all were just some parts in the workshop at some stage so doing the same with that horse tram is nothing new.

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      However this horse tram does not feature in any future plans and it has been stated that the parts that are kept could be used for other restoration projects. I see this in much the same way as Blackpool 677 being chopped up a few years so that one saloon frame and the trucks could be used to rebuild the illuminated Train, with the remaining bits of 677 ending up in a skip.

  6. Daniel says:

    Putting 2 and 2 together, is Crich expecting a widened balloon?

  7. Andy says:

    Dear all,
    Regards the deconstruction of the horse car, this is not scrapping but careful deconstruction with every part recorded, measured,catalogued and condition recorded as required with Crich being a designated museum. The parts will be flat packed and stored back at Clay Cross. This does not stop it being restored/reconstructed in the future as the parts will be saved for further use or a pattern. This is to make more room for reasons which will become apparent as 2014 progresses. LCC1 will be going through a similar programme except in LCC1 case it will be rebuilt/restored to working condition straight away.
    As to donating vehicles to other museums/bodies, this can be complicated depending on whether the museum is a designated one or not.
    As to the anti-Crich feeling, yes there are enthusiasts out there who are so anti Crich that they will not even talk to me or other officers of the society. If only they would talk to us they will find that most of us are quite amicable and happy to talk on a friendly basis.

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      Can we resolve this once and for all: when this horse tram is dismantled, will the bits be kept so that it can be reassembled at a later date, OR so the parts can be re-used in other trams? If the first is the case, then I think the use of the word ‘deconstruction’ is fair, if the second is correct then I would consider the tram to have ceased to exist and be used as a spare parts donor car. The problem here is that different people to do with the TMS are posting comments in various places that seem to contradict each other!

      • BigG says:

        No, Andrew, if you re-read the original article on the Crich website and the subsequent posts from those who have obviously been involved in the process they do not contradict each other. The work that is being undertaken obviously leaves both options (restoring on not restoring) open at a later date. Whichever of these fates eventually awaits this tram the current work should ensure the maximum success.

        For those of your contributors who seem to demand an instant commitment to restore the vehicle perhaps they might suggest from which project the time and funding should be transferred?

        As for the preservation group that expressed an interest in acquiring the car perhaps you might enlighten us as to who they were, whether they had a realistic plan and whether it went beyond a mere expression of interest.

  8. Andy says:

    Andrew, From what I’ve been told, all parts saved are to be used in any future restoration, which will most likely some other horse car, but it does not mean that this one would not be restored. So for the time being it will still exist but in a dismantled state. Hope this clarifies it a bit. I agree with your comment about different TMS people posting different comments but I was there helping to extract the vehicle.

  9. David Holt says:

    The Blackpool “Lifeboat” illuminated tram was dismantled at Crich in 1962 (I think) to provide a truck for Cheltenham 21. Glasgow 101 met the same fate, and Blackpool Standard was dismantled at around the same time. Its bogies were kept. So the conversion of the North Met horse car into a space-saving flatpack isn’t anything particularly new or necessarily sinister – as long as the flatpack doesn’t get chucked out from Clay Cross one day like the conduit track components did so disgracefully about 20 years ago. I took part in all three “slot-snatches” (point, change pit and plain line) and I will never willingly let the loss of that priceless material be forgotten. Think on!

  10. Bill Thomspon says:

    Whilst that tram is clearly beyond saving, my objection is to Crich hoarding trams at Clay Cross!! What condition was that tram in, say 20yrs ago! Could it have been restored then! What about the other restored trams at Crich, most notibly the Dreadnaught. What condition is that in! Why not give it to Blackpool where it may actually be appreciated!

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      Whilst I am not particularly happy with trams being left at Clay Cross, it is surely a much better situation than them being stored out in the open with little or no prospect of that ever changing? The place is far from perfect – indeed the same is true of the running sheds at Crich – but at least everything is undercover. As for Dreadnought 59, I would LOVE it to return to Blackpool (as I suspect would just about every tram enthusiast!), but it needs a huge amount of work to get it running again and Blackpool Transport have many of their own projects to deal with, on a very limited budget. Hopefully one day though….

  11. Paul D says:

    Come on Folks, this seems to be an argument mostly over semantics…

    The fact is a tramcar that is beyond restoration is being dismantled in such a way that some reusable parts can be retained for possible future use either in constructing a replica of this car or on other tramcars. That tram is not being indiscriminately discarded but will cease to exist as an entity…

    For what it’s worth for me this is an entirely reasonable course of action so credit to Crich for that. The reality is that if in the future a replica were to be constructed incorporating those parts, it would be little different to LUT 159, Cardiff 131 and several other trams that contain very little original material…

    What does cause the negative publicity for Crich is the way a small number of their own members/supporters have again over-reacted and taken a very defensive position, making such a fuss over the precise wording used to describe this course of action. At times they bring trouble on themselves not for the decisions made but the way they are communicated and attempts to justify them in subsequent discussions…

    I can however understand why TMS members do sometimes get defensive when faced with stupid and ridiculous comments delivered from behind faceless pseudonyms such as those from ‘Deckerman’ and ‘Appalled of Derby’ in this thread. It saddens me that these people think they are so clever but are too cowardly to give their real name…


    • Andy says:

      Paul D,
      When you work hard at maintaining and restoring trams as I have since 1979, you can understand the frustration that not only myself but other hard working members of the society feel when there are what I suspect armchair enthusiasts attack us from a keyboard about what we do. Even when there are attempts to correct information put on websites we get slagged off again. Those same ‘enthusiasts’ also will not speak to us face to face. Most of us have taken the stance to not bother replying on the various web forums as it seems they aren’t bothered about what we say especially if it contradicts their words. But at least there are some sites which welcome written contributions [this site being one] and have happily spoken to both Andrew and Gareth over the years.

  12. Nigel Pennick says:

    Ipswich needs a truck for the Bradford/Cambridge horse car.

    • Jamie Guest says:

      The Ipswich truck is sorted a modified version of 107’s running gear is under construction by the LTHS for Ipswich, using the pattersn and drawings created for 107.


    • Stephen Cobb says:

      The Bath/Bradford/Cambridge car at Ipswich is having a new set of running gear constructed for it from (I believe) the same source as the recent Leeds horse car restoration.

      • Nigel Pennick says:

        That’s good news – a new truck – all we need now is some 4 foot gauge track (longer than the genuine section at the Tram Depot pub in Cambridge,but there is a fake section laid the wrong way round there, too)

  13. Nathan H says:

    I find it interesting that they want to make more room at Clay X, does this imply that a tram (trams?) will be moving there from the museum site? And what for….
    If anyone reads Trams Today you’ll note a section of their article about events at Crich in 2014 which reads:
    “Plans to add to the national collection with a very surprising and potentially controversial acquisition are already well in hand and, early in the season, this new arrival should be part of the operational fleet in its new home.”
    T68 or Centenary, perhaps?

    • Tommy Carr says:

      Sorry, but a T68 wouldn’t be operational. But with the north met tram and Gateshead 52 leaving, a T68 for clay cross?

      • BigG says:

        Speculation is always fun (and there are some interesting and appealing ideas being floated in these posts) but, if anything IS happening, I guess we should all wait until it becomes fact. At which point information will probably appear on the Crich website.

        • Andrew Waddington says:

          Nothing wrong with a bit of harmless speculation though. In fact, its nice to see some genuine interest and excitement in Crich – certainly much better than a lot of the negative comments that so often appear on this website and others. As for the information appearing on the Crich website, I’m sure it will when everything is confirmed and the TMS feel ready to announce their news, but the trouble is that everyone will probably already have found out or worked it out by then!

    • Daniel says:

      Blackpool Modified Balloon I predict. Trams Today said something unusual was happening to a Balloon tram this year so I guess it is off to Crich.
      It’ll be interesting to see if anything moves to Clay Cross with the space being made. I hope it is Halle 902 personally.

      • Lee says:

        Rumour I heard was a Millennium flat ended Balloon is going on loan for a year.


        • Daniel says:

          Ah, where to?
          Wouldn’t a modified balloon be good for Crich, it would provide an additional vehicle for wheelchair users?

        • Nathan H says:

          “On loan”? The article states that the new acquisition “added to the collection”, implying it will be permanent. I hope it is not a flat ended one as it wouldn’t really add anything to the collection. If I was to choose a fat-door balloon for Crich, I would have chosen 700. Still think it’ll be 642 though. As for the fat door Balloon, perhaps it may be visiting one of the modern tramway’s i.e Stagecoach Supertram. Now that would be a sight worth seeing!

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      In my opinion both a T68 and a Centenary car (especially the former) would add greatly to the national collection, as they represent the beginning and end of their respective periods of British tramway history. So that means it won’t be either of them then!!! 😉

      • BigG says:

        Interesting propositions in these last couple of comments. Crich acquire a T68? And send 902 off site?
        More room would be required to accomodate a T68 than that would free up, so what else should go?
        Then there would be the decision as where best to exhibit the T68. On the non-operational tracks or, more logically in the Exhibition Hall?
        What is the length of a T68? More than the length of the Crich traverser so it would be neccessary to deconstruct the tram.
        No,no, no, no…! I don’t mean scrap it!

        • Tommy Carr says:

          If a T68 would go to crich, it could possibly be moved Into the old soft play area. However, I don’t think the tram in question is a T68 because it says that the car will be operational. It may well be a modified balloon, but would it fit in a depot? I’m looking forward to see what will be coming!

          • Nathan H says:

            You might have a point there…TT might just have given the game away. However, I doubt BTS would give away a tram they have only just spend thousands of ££££ on modifying. My guess is Centenary 642, being a duplicate in BTS’s heritage collection it isn’t really needed anymore. The chances of it being a non-Blackpool vehicle are minimal.

  14. NotchArrestor273 says:

    Principally in response to Bill Thompson it should be noted that the horse car in question was rescued over thirty years ago from a railway embankment in Stoke Newington where it had lain for an unknown period of time. It was fitted with the same bracing that you see now in the pictures, craned onto a truck, driven to Clay Cross and unloaded into covered storage by a small dedicated group of true enthusiasts. If it hadn’t been “hoarded” at Clay Cross it wouldn’t even exist now.
    It just so happens that those cars being “hoarded” at Clay Cross in fairly constant atmospheric conditions in comparison with the depots at Crich, Blackpool, NEET, Beamish, Heaton Park, et al are actually deteriorating more slowly and might just survive until work on them can commence.

    Christoph, if you review the list of trams in your response you might realise that they are all the product of support from either the LCCTT or the TSO, so maybe there is a message for all the whinging “enthusiasts” (on all of the social networking sites) that your great long list of demands will only stand a chance if you either get your hands dirty or if you stick them in your pockets and help those few people who are paying for tramcar restoration to take place.

    If all the enthusiasts on the Fylde coast care so much, why is the Graffitti Special enduring another winter at the mercy of the storms? Physicians heal yourselves!

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      Fair comments about Clay Cross, but I don’t think bringing the ‘Graffiti Special’ as you call it has any relevance here. Individual enthusiasts HAVE supported the preservation of Brush cars – see 630 at Crich, 623 at Heaton Park and 634 at Rushden, not to mention 631 at Blackpool. 290/627 is probably suffering from a lack of support partly due to these four trams surviving in good condition, and partly because its owner seems reluctant to work with tram enthusiasts.

    • Bill Thomspon says:

      So, the tram in question has lain in a depot for a generation, where exactly nothing has happened to it. Now it finds itself being ‘deconstructed’. Now if that’s not hoarding, I don’t know what is!!

    • David Holt says:

      It gives me the creeps to see someone being unfairly criticised and “spoken to” personally from behind a veil of anonymity. Ban the burqabloggers!

  15. Gareth Prior says:

    I think we have “done” this subject to death now thank you! People will just have to be patient to see what does and doesn’t happen and as soon as it is announced we will report it here.

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