2014:  March 31


My First Day at Crich

One of things that has been on my to-do list for quite some time has been a visit to the Tram Museum at Crich. An interest in trams started at a very tender age when my parents took me on a tram ride starting in London's Kingsway Subway and finishing on the Embankment. This was shortly before the end of trams in central London, so dates me a tad. I wanted to have another ride, but you know what grown ups are like. Their agendas are moulded by practicalities and so don't always match those of their tender and inexperienced offspring.

To preserve a significant aspect of Britain's urban past, the Tramway Museum Society was established in 1955. The society acquired the site at Crich in 1959, the first trams running in 1962. Things have rarely looked back since then. Volunteers from all walks of life have striven to make Crich a living museum of nationally (and internationally) recognised importance.

Here is the Paisley/Glasgow open topper approaching the Town End terminus at Crich. In the distance, we see the red and white Leeds Horesefield car. The single deck white car in the distance on the right is from East Berlin; it is kept in readiness for disabled passengers.

Trams have, of course, made a resurgence in recent times. Admittedly, they are now thought of more in terms of being a light metro separated, where possible, from other road users. However, new-age trams are still able to use normal roads in city centres to give their passengers ready access to these centres.

Crich and Walking to Crich

The museum site at Crich actually has connections with Robert Stephenson, who originally built his quarry railway here to take the quarried limestone down the valley. Now there is a running line of 1.26 Km (0.78 miles) to allow visitors to savour tram rides. It you are staying in Whatstandwell, as I was, it is a steep, but doable, 1 mile uphill walk to Crich. Most invigorating in the morning, and also good exercise in the evening!

The 0.8 mile long tram line passes through varied scenery, high above the Derwent Valley, affording interesting views of what is a World Heritage site.

An overall height difference of about 18 metres, modest for walkers,
puts the trams through their paces.

This is looking back down on the way up to Crich. Time has taken its toll of an old Baptist chapel of which there are several in these parts.

Before reaching the museum entrance, there is a chance to see the Town End terminus and some of the trams running today. Nearest is a Leeds Horsefield Car from about 1931, followed by an open-topper from Paisley (1919) subsequently absorbed into Glasgow Corporation Tramways in whose livery it appears today. Behind is the historic façade of the Derby Assembly Rooms (Georgian: 1765-1774), acquired when Derby was no longer interested in its Assembly Rooms. It was transported and rebuilt brick-by-brick at Crich. A labour of love and no mean feat!

Tram Rides in the Morning

How about some tram rides to get a feel of what's to see. I enjoyed a pleasant morning of impressions - some I had not experienced for a very long time, and some that were completely new. Well, this is what helps to make one's life rich (not necessarily financially!) and varied!

I hailed this Leeds tram at the Bandstand and took it to the northern terminus at "Glory Mine".

Trams proudly bore the corporation crests of their owners. In Leeds, the dicky birds hold sway on the crest - well, (wise) owls actually. "For king and law" is what I think the inscription says.

I waited a while at the northern terminus for the next tram, another Leeds car dating from the 1920s. A restoration triumph indeed!

I let the second Leeds car go south without me. This is a typical tram view complete with overhead "knitting" - well, power supply wires actually.

The third tram of the day, the Paisley/Glasgow open-topper arrives.

No comfortable seat for the motorman (driver) who was often
- as in this case - exposed to the elements, come rain, come shine, come hail, come fog.

This is the view on the top deck. Don't worry, passengers did not get electrocuted,
although, if you really wanted to touch the overhead wire, you could get a belt of
about 600 volts DC. Not really recommended!

On the way back, we pass one of the Leeds cars.

The stairs to the top deck are steep and narrow. Not for the disabled or for many OAPs.

British trams were usually doubled ended - makes reversing at the terminus much easier! Motorman's controls and the track laid in stone sets - a typical street view from the staircase of an early 20th century tram.

The open-topper has brought me back to the Town End terminus ...

... where the Leeds Horsefield car subsequently arrives. The Crich war memorial, up to which I would walk tomorrow, commands the background, high above the part of the limestone quarry that is still being quarried.

Here is the Leeds car again. In the background is the orange brick Victorian pub, "thrown out" this time by Stoke who wanted to build a road in its place. A little more about the pub later.

Nosing Around the Depot and the Exhibitions

After lunch time necessities, it seemed a good idea to nose around the depot and exhibitions to see other trams - some of which were also in operational condition. These are located near the Town End terminus.

This car, belonging to "London United Tramways" first appeared on the streets of London in 1902 - another splendid restoration which in this case took seven years of skilled, dedicated and mostly volunteer labour. Hammersmith to Hampton Court and Wimbledon was the tram route. The same company operated the same type of tram on its trunk route from Shepherds Bush to Uxbridge; this latter route became tram route 7, then trolleybus route 607, and finally, bus route 207 - there is history, even in bus routes!

This car sports a splendid crest, although the company never actually reached the City of London.

And here is another view of the decoration and scrolled iron work.

This is the type of tram I travelled on oh so many years ago. This type first saw the light of day in Edwardian times, and was subsequently upgraded by the LCC in the 1920s and by London Transport in the 1930s. The E1/1 was the largest class of trams in the UK, boasting about 1050 instantions.

The Metropolitan Electric Tramway company operated in north west London and introduced the comfortable Feltham tram in 1930 in order to stave off the competition from other means of transport. This tram was definitely an improvement for the travelling public as well as for the driver, who was now seated!

This map shows the extent of London's tramways: Waltham Cross in the north, Purley in the south, Uxbridge in the west and Dartford in the east.

Here is an interesting Sheffield four-wheeler - a technical marvel when it was introduced in 1900. Sheffield's hilly rotes favoured the deployment of
four-wheel (as opposed to bogie) trams to the very end.

Tram Rides Post Meridiem

Some further exploration out and about was on the cards for the afternoon. Yet more impressions were committed to pixels by my trusty camera. So here are some more street scenes, mostly at the southern end of the site.

The Bowes-Lyon bridge, whose iron work was cast in 1844, was rescued from Stagnoe Park in Hertfordshire. Here it makes a fitting frame for one of the Leeds cars as it negotiates the interlaced tram track.

The vantage points provided by the Bowes-Lyon bridge can be the source of many photographic opportunities. In this case, our Paisley/Glasgow car, loaded with a reasonable complement of passengers, is just leaving the interlaced track for the Town End terminus.

The way down from the bridge provided this (in summer leafy) shot of the Horsefield car. As you see, it is also heading for the Town End terminus.

This track is part of the depot fan; it shows the skills that were needed to create the numerous tram track layouts up and down the country. Many of these skills were based at Hadfields in Sheffield.

Here are some more views of the Paisley/Glasgow car, firstly near "Rita's Tea Rooms" ...

... and then approaching Town End terminus. The white car in the distance on the right is "Eric", my namesake, from East Berlin; it is kept in readiness for disabled passengers.

Here is a view of one of the two stairs on the Paisley/Glasgow car. The motorman's hand is on the controller, ready for departure to the "Glory Mine".

Here is a view of the façade of the Derby Assembly Rooms from the top of the open-topper.

From a vantage point just above the Wakebridge stop, I also got this view of the two Leeds cars runnning today. To the right you can see part of the display of retired mining equipment.

I also got a further shot of the Horsefield car - looking very sleek!

And at the same spot, I got another shot of the Paisley/Glasgow open-topper.

Coming back to the Town End Terminus, just outside the depot, "Eric", the tram from East Berlin, puts in another appearance.

At Town End: the Leeds Horsefield car ...

... and the 1920s Leeds tram.

The top deck of the Horsefield car.

Townscape and the Leeds car from the 1920s.

The 1920s Leeds car seen from top deck of the open-topper at the Wakebridge stop.

Leeds Horsefield car: lower deck.

Leeds Horsefield car: one of the two sets of controls - solid and robust engineering!

Paisley/Glasgow open-topper: lower deck.

Town End terminus: another view of the Paisley/Glasgow open-topper.
And so ends my first day at Crich.