Crich mark 50 years of electric trams

Saturday 5th July 1964 was an extremely significant day in the history of British tramcar preservation, as this was the day when public services commenced at what would become the National Tramway Museum at Crich using electric trams. At 2:00pm, Blackpool & Fleetwood 2 earned its place in history by operating the very first public journey, not only at Crich, but in any British museum – and this milestone was remembered exactly fifty years afterwards, when remarkably, the very same tram was in service.

‘Rack’ 2 – which has recently been temporarily returned to use in view of this year’s milestone achievement – was purposely scheduled to perform the 2:00pm run from Town End on Saturday 5th July 2014, and shortly before departure, various members of the Board of Management posed with the tram, along with other members on site who had been actively involved with the museum in 1964. These guests then re-enacted that first historic public service, with a private run the to the Depot gates, this being the full length of the line fifty years ago. Car 2 then remained in public service for the rest of the day along with Chesterfield 7 and Blackpool ‘Boat’ 236 – neither of which were at Crich, or even in the national collection, all those years ago when the electric tram service commenced.

Ordinary visitors to the museum on this date were not forgotten with a special commemorative ticket issued to all visitors in recognition of this momentous occasion. However, the main celebrations will have to wait a little longer: the ‘Electric 50’ event in September being the main opportunity to mark this preservation milestone and enjoy the largest number of trams to have been operated at the museum together for many years.

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12 Responses to Crich mark 50 years of electric trams

  1. Gordon Burch says:

    Just a slight clarification; that commerotive journey was only ‘private’ in that it made a non-scheduled stop to alight the Board Members at the Depot Gate. Apart from that it was a normal working run and there were more visitors on the car than TMS members. In fact the first two commemorative tickets issued were to the two young visitors who rode the full return trip on the driver’s platform (which is permitted on Rack 2) as reported on the Crich blog.

  2. John Henderson says:

    Last Saturday’s low key celebration is such a shame, when there are several TMS members (current and lapsed) who could have been the focus of this important milestone. Sadly also it is a time to remember the many people who toiled to make that day occur at Crich who are no longer with us. It is not dissimilar to wartime commemorations; remembering those who are no longer with us and acknowledging the survivors.
    Rack 2 could have from 2pm just operated over the original distance and carried on for the rest of the day; covering the journey to the depot gates crossover and back. Crewed only by those who were there in 1964 , I believe this would have been a much more respective event to marque 50 years of electric operation.
    Lastly, can you imagine Remembrance Day not taking place at the eleventh hour, on the eleventh day in the eleventh month? It is such an insult for the Crich true celebration this year, to take place not on the 5th July from 2pm onwards. In 2014, the event occurring in September no doubt will have some justification, but it totally misses the point of timing nostalgia.
    1964 in July captivated many to join the TMS and to take an active part in the work force to take the museum further. By September 1964, myself along with many others were taking part in the next steps of progress.

    • BigG says:

      Do you really believe that there is a comparison between marking the 50th anniversary of the first electric tram service at Crich and an act of remembrance for the millions who died, mostly in appalling conditons, in the First World War? There is a huge difference in significance.
      To put you right on facts, however, whilst the 2 minutes silence is always at the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, the main Service of Remembrance takes place on Remembrance Sunday.

  3. Christopher Callan says:

    Considering they were incredibly lucky that the actual day fell on a Saturday July perplexing to say the least that the milestone is going to be celebrated months later tagged on to merged into enthusiasts event in September. How many people decide not to have Birthday party on the day and push it back a few months!.

    The place should and quite easily could have been packed to rafters. With Schools, Locals. Past Members, Current Members & Anyone with a interest in the history of trams. As well as anyone who just fancied a nice day out.

    Schools/Colleges could have had various different groups catering for different age groups. Art & Photography students recording monumental occasion. History looking at the history. Engineering students talking to depot staff. Music students providing the entertainment. Be fabulous day out for them to bring down the curtain on the academic year as a educational but fun relaxing trip.

    • Jack says:

      That’s all good and well, but what would the outcry be like if the event was earlier but Box 40’s overhaul was not completed – or other vehicles for that matter.

      Put the event in July and 167 would also no longer be in Blackpool and Box 40 – if it was completed – would not be able to be at Blackpool for Tram Sunday.

      Some people are never happy!

      • Christopher Callan says:

        Its not like the date just materialised out of thin air. Had 50 years to plan for it… Simply moving the start dates forward of said projects. Change the loan times round. All perfectly workable realistic solutions.

        Once in generation chance missed… But as usual the “cant do” attitude emerges. With minor tweaks the loans (or even do them next year) the vast majority would have applauded the move to July.

        Simply swapping the “premier” events around. So no additional costs entailed. Practical Simple Solution.

        • John Henderson says:

          I fully endorse Chris Callan’s comments. As 1964 evolved, various trams either moved under electric power, and some entered passenger service. Between July and September, a series of re-enactments could have been created and advertised. Trams such as Box 40, Blackpool 49, Sheffield 510 and Sheffield 46 I believe all moved over these months. The September 2014 event could have been the ain 50 years event if other considerations required accounting for. There are several key members or ex members still around who could be a focus for this memorable time; not today’s everyday crews.

          • BigG says:

            Without today’s “everyday crews” there would not even have been a tram service on the 7th or, for that matter any day this year!

        • Tim says:

          Chris, I see what you’re saying and perhaps something more prominent should have been done, however, realistically local people were going to see other events last weekend, principally the Tour De France. I don’t see Jack’s post as can’t do. He is pointing out some if the other can do things that are being done!

          I do wonder having read your views previously how ‘immovable’ the date would have been if it clashed with a Blackpool Heritage Running Day?

  4. Douglas says:

    The same weekend saw the Tour de France traveling through Yorkshire and was by all accounts a massive draw for millions of visitors.

    Any large event scheduled to take place at Crich at the same time would have been lost in the noise and would not have captured the non enthusiast visitors. That would have been a wasted opportunity to show off the museum and the collection to as many people, enthusiast or otherwise.

    The Underground made their 150th events last most of the year so why can’t Crich build up to a big celebration late in the season giving time for reflection and restoration.

  5. Paul D says:

    While there are perfectly valid reasons for the main celebration to be at the enthusiasts’ event in September, it does feel like they missed a trick by not publicising this commemoration in advance – I’m sure there would have been a number of additional members and enthusiasts turn out had they known, who would not otherwise have attended a non-event day.

    It was obviously planned in advance for the various guests to attend and the special tickets to be printed, so how hard would it have been to post on their own website and others such as BTO that “Rack 2 would be in service on the day and do a commemorative trip at 2pm”?
    Oh… hang on… we’ve just done that on other thread haven’t we… 

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