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Don's Rail Photos

National Tramway Museum

Crich Tramway Village

The present museum at Crich (Derbyshire) was started in 1959 on the site of a former mineral railway (built by the famous engineer George Stephenson) by the tramway Museum society – a group of enthusiasts who wanted to preserve examples of (British) tramcars before they became extinct. The site has been under constant development since 1959; only recently have the ‘Red Lion" building, and the workshop extension and viewing gallery been completed and opened for use. As this is being written, work continues apace on the library extension. The museum possesses around 60 cars on display at Crich (with others at its store at nearby Clay Cross). The majority of the cars come from the British Isles, with a few from overseas, for example, New York Third Avenue Transit 674, Den Haag PCC car 1147, Porto 273 and Johannesburg 60. Track gauge is ‘Standard’ (1435mm, 4ft 82) and consists of (mostly) traditional grooved tramway rail. The length of the running track is approximately one mile. Current is supplied at 550 volts DC. Trams run from ‘Town End’ terminus, via a passing loop at Wakebridge, to the outer terminus at ‘Glory Mine’. Much of the fabric of the Town End terminus originates from towns and cities around the UK. For example, the area around the bookshop is paved with stone flags from a street in Leeds; the gas lamps are from Oldham and the magnificent bridge, crossing the running tracks close to the main entrance, originates from the Bowes-Lyon estate in Hertfordshire. Restoration and maintenance of the cars is carried out in the well-equipped workshops by a largely volunteer force. Leeds 345 is the current focus of attention. Costs of such restorations are, of course high. Leeds 345 is likely to cost over £200,000.

Blackpool Corporation Tramways 4 is one of the cars that used to run on the conduit system in Blackpool, when the electric tramways first started operating in 1885. It is one of the original ten cars produced for the tramway. Cars 3 & 4 were built by the Lancaster Carriage and Wagon Company. The diminutive car seats 16 passengers only on each deck. After wartime service (1914-1918) ferrying bread to a military camp at Squires Gate, it was converted to an overhead inspection car until superseded in 1934. The car languished, out of use, until 1960 when it was renovated before being donated to the Museum in 1963. The car is now to be found as a static exhibit in the Exhibition Hall.

Blackpool 40 was built by Blackpool Tramways in 1926 as a balcony top covered car (with open balconies and lower vestibules). Trucks were McGuire equal-wheel type. The car was given platform vestibules somewhere between 1929 & 1932, but was never completely enclosed.

Blackpool 49 represents the complete development of the Blackpool Standard tramcar with enclosed balconies.

Blackpool 166, known as a "toastrack",  was once used by the BBC as a mobile outside broadcast unit.

Blackpool 167 was the first of the 'pantograph' cars of 1928.  It is at Crich.

Blackpool Electric Locomotive was built by English Electric in 1927.  It apparently was repainted in 2002.

Blackpool & Fleetwood Tramroad Co was a coastal line opened in 1898.  It was taken over by Blackpool Corporation Tramways in 1920.

2 was built in 1898.

The small town of Chesterfield in Derbyshire operated their own standard gauge electric tramways from 1904 to 1927, when substitution by trolleybuses was completed. Car 7 came from the batch 1-12, built by Brush in 1904 as open top cars on Brush radial trucks. Car 7 was one of seven fitted with top covers in 1920. The restoration of the car was completed at Crich in late 1996, and like so many of the vehicles at Crich is a tribute to the skills of the volunteers and staff at Crich.

Derby Corporation Tramways operated electric cars from 1904 to 1934; the gauge was 4ft. Car 1 was of the batch 1-25, produced by Brush in 1904 as open topped vehicles on Brush AA trucks. Car 1, along with six others (3, 4, 8, 9, 22, & 23) was rebuilt as enclosed top covered cars after 1923.

Douglas Southern was a 3.5-mile standard gauge tramway running from Douglas Head to Port Soderick over a spectacular coastal line with a number of bridges over deep gullies and clefts. The line opened in 1896 and closed at the beginning of World War Two in 1939, never to reopen. Car 1 was of the batch 1-6 built by Brush (Falcon), on Lord Baltimore trucks, in 1896 for the commencement of service. Cars seated 75 people. The car was sent to Clapham Transport Museum and is at Crich on loan from the Science Museum in London.

Edinburgh Corporation 35 was built in the company workshops in 1948 to replace an older car of the same number that had been built in 1923. Tram service ended in 1956.

Glasgow Corporation Transport had trams on a gauge of 4ft 7.25in. This odd gauge was chosen to allow standard gauge railway wagons to run with their flanges in the groove of the tram track. Electric trams ran from 1898 to 1962. 812 was one of 1004 Glasgow Standard Cars. The Corporation built it in their Coplawhill Workshops in 1900. Like the other Phase I cars it was an open top, short balcony single truck car. 812 was rebuilt, first to a Phase II car in 1911 and to its current state, as a fully enclosed Phase IV car, in 1930. The history of the ‘Standard’ cars is complex, for those who wish to find out more about them (and all the other Glasgow cars), I can do no better than to recommend Ian Stewart’s book ‘The Glasgow Tramcar’.

The Hill of Howth tramway, in the Republic of Ireland to the east of Dublin, was owned and managed by The Great Northern Railway (I). The 5’ 3" gauge tramway ran from 1901 to 1959. Car 10 was one of a pair (the other was 9) built by Milnes in 1902 on Peckham 14D-5 bogies. The cars were designed by the tramway for summer use only and were used at times of peak traffic, and only on the Sutton to Summit section, due to their size and weight. (The cars were larger than the initial cars, 1-8, and considerably heavier – this precluded their use on the steeply graded and twisty section from the Summit to the terminus. Originally, being summer cars, 9 and 10 had no glass in their windows.

Johannesburg car 60 car was one of the batch 41-80 produced by UEC in England in 1906. The cars were assembled later in the year by Johannesburg Tramways workshops. The car at Crich is in the 'rebuilt' form (1931) with five sliding windows on the top deck and five windows with fan lights in the lower saloon (the cars were originally fitted with six windows on the upper deck and three on the lower).

Leeds 345 was built in 1921 as an open-balconied tramcar.  It was converted in 1938 by enclosing the balconies and changing the type of stairs. An internal bulkhead was also removed. Because of this the tramcar became known as a "Convert Car".  In 1948 the tramcar was withdrawn from service, and should have been scrapped. However, it lasted until the system closure in 1959, whence upon it was given to the National Tramway Museum who had acquired their site in the same year. It was the first passenger carrying car to arrive at Crich, the first car being Cardiff 131, a water-carrier. The tramcar was not restored immediately however, and went to the Clay Cross store in the 1980s. In 2002 the car was returned and it's 4 year restoration started, before being returned to service on April 1, 2006.  The tramcar is now one of the most use cars in the Crich fleet.

Leeds 600 had been purchased from Sunderland Corporation (where it was numbered 85) in 1944. It is not clear to me whether the car ever entered revenue service. Initially, the car was used for checking clearances on curves etc. for a proposed tram subway in Leeds. The vehicle was fitted with EMB heavyweight bogies in 1946, and at some stage, converted to a centre-exit car by Leeds. The car was numbered 288 between 1947 & 1950. C.H.Roe built Leeds 601 and 602 in 1953, having similar bodies but different equipment and trucks. Car 601 rode on EMB bogies, car 602 on Maley & Taunton ones. Car 602 is the only survivor and is painted in it's original colours of purple with black edging, gold lining on the purple areas, ivory window frames and bow collector tower, and brown bogies. Leeds works car No 2 is described as a 'rail derrick' in the book "The tramways of West Yorkshire" by JC Gillham and RJS Wiseman, but has all the looks of a tower wagon! According to the book, it was converted from car 420, a Chamberlain class car from the series 411-445 (built 1926-1928 by Leeds City Tramways). (Colour details taken from Noel Proudlock's book "Leeds a history of its tramways").

Leicester 76 car is (permanently?) in the Exhibition Hall. The car is one of a batch (60-99) built by ER & TCW in 1904 as an open-topped car. All Leicester open-topped cars were fitted with balcony top-covers between 1912 & 1924, and then fully enclosed between 1924 & 1934. I do not have precise dates for the conversion of car 76. The photos were all taken in the mid 90s.

Newcastle Class F car 102 was part of a batch that consisted of cars 89-110 built by Hurst Nelson in 1901 as single deck, end loading, double truck open-sided cars. Newcastle rebuilt (1903-1905) the majority of the cars as open top, double deck cars as represented by 102 at Crich. The cars were mounted on Brill 27G trucks. Cars 96, 105 & 108 were rebuilt with balcony top covers (with quite a short upper saloon). These were amongst the largest trams to run in the UK.

Sheffield Corporation Tramways 74 is one of a batch (59-88) built by Electric Railway & Tramway Carriage Works in 1903. They were built as open-top, short balcony cars, later top-covered (in the period 1903-1910). Car 74 was sold to Gateshead & District Tramways Company in December 1922.

Southampton 45 was one of the batch 38-49 built by Hurst Nelson in 1902 as open top cars. Car 45 was the first car that appeared at the Museum at Crich. The Light Railway Transport League had purchased it in 1949. After several travels it arrived at Crich as one of the first cars of the National Tramway Museum. Car 45 has 'knifeboard' (or back-to-back) seating on the top deck to allow it to pass under the Bargate arch in the old town walls of Southampton. When cars were top-covered, they had to have a cover profiled to allow them to pass under the arch also - this gave them a very distinctive shape. Eventually the arch was by-passed, the last tram passing through the arch on 4th June 1938. The date of these photos is June 2002.

Serviço de Transportes Colectivos do Porto 273 was built by Companhia Carris de Ferro do Porto in 1928 and went to Crich in the middle 1990s.

 

 

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