Illustrated history of the National Tramway Museum at Crich
Part 1 1959 to 1969
|The National Tramway Museum seen from the Matlock road on 5th January 2010.|
1959 - 1960
The Tramway Museum Society was founded in 1955 to try to save and operate some of the UK’s rapidly disappearing tramcars. By the end of 1958 the situation was dire. The Society owned about half a dozen trams, all in temporary storage, and some under notice eviction. Two Liverpool trams which had been stored in the open had already been destroyed by vandals.
The then disused quarry at Crich had come to the attention of some members living Sheffield and the decision to rent some land and one tram sized building for £50 per annum was confirmed at an EGM in Matlock in April 1959. The lease was quickly signed and the first tram, Cardiff 131, arrived on Friday 8th May. Pictures 1 to 3 are recent views of three of the original quarry buildings that still exist.
|1: The blacksmiths forge (left) and the stone workshop. The forge has become the bookshop and the stone workshop will be redeveloped as an education centre over the next few years.|
|2: MET 331 passing a former weighbridge which became the Craft Cottage but is now out of use.|
|3. Another former weighbridge which has become the Eagle Press with Leeds 180 in the background.|
It is difficult now to imagine how primitive the site was. The quarry had closed unexpectedly in 1957 and simply been abandoned. There was no electricity or gas supply or mains drainage. The water supply was one tap. During the summer of 1959 most of the work had simply been clearing up the site. The Society bought a few simple tools such as picks, shovels and mattocks and these were stored in what is now the Craft Cottage. As winter approached the fire grate was cleared and a fire was lit each weekend. The Tallylyn Railway had bought and removed the rails from the former mineral railway to Ambergate but there was still a network of narrow gauge tracks in the quarry and some of these rails were used to lay the first standard gauge tracks to stand the trams on. They were in short lengths and could easily be carried by a small group of volunteers.
Leeds 399 was the second tram to arrive on 15th August followed by the Sheffield horse tram on 21st November. This was the first tram to be stored under cover in the stone workshop. Leeds 345 arrived on 19th December. No fewer than 16 trams, mostly from Leeds and Sheffield arrived in 1960. Leeds tramways had closed in November 1959 and Sheffield in October 1960. The first Crich winter emphasised the need for the trams to be stored under cover. The plan was to enlarge the entrance to the stone workshop for double deckers and squeeze four trams in. In practice only two were housed; Hull 132 and Leicester 76. The first new depot which also housed four trams was based on a hay barn with contractors erecting concrete pillars and a roof and volunteer members adding the corrugated iron side cladding and later wooden doors. This was known as Depot I at the time but later renamed Depot A before it was eventually sold in the 1970s.
Early in 1961 work commenced on a second depot for six trams, which is still known as Depot II. This was wider and clad with asbestos panels which were installed by the contractors. The trams were manhandled into this depot using temporary bits of rickety track assembled from the old quarry rails. Pictures 4 to 6 show the progress between early January and late March and 7 to 9 show how the trams were moved around the site. This depot formed the basis of the present depot complex as over the years it has been extended both sideways and forwards. Picture 10 shows that even in the pioneering day’s people were interested in the project and, as the site was completely unfenced, they could have a look round. Money in short supply and collecting boxes mushroomed. The summer of 1961 saw the first sales outlet for ‘Tramway Books & Photographs’ in the small building by the then entrance (on the left of the title picture).
|4. The beginnings of Depot II in January 1961.|
|5: Depot II looking in the opposite direction perhaps a week later.|
|6: The completed Depot II on 26th March 1961. The trams are Southampton 45 and Sheffield 510|
|7: Sheffield 510 being towed towards Depot II by a tractor. Note the people crouching down to be able to watch the wheels on the temporary track.|
|8: The tractor was a luxury - usually the trams were pushed by hand. This is Sheffield 349 which became generator car 01.|
|9: Derailments were common – the trams were simply jacked up and either the track or the tram nudged sideways. Glasgow 1068 (left) which became Paisley 68 and Glasgow 812.|
|10: The site was not fenced and on Sunday afternoons curious visitors turned up to see what was happening.|
The Sheffield horse tram 15 returned to Sheffield in October 1961 where it was repainted by the Transport Department in the correct livery and placed on display in the High Street as part of the Christmas lights. Even more remarkably, it was operated on the Moor on the morning of Sunday 3rd December.
Trams continued to arrive at Crich during 1961 and pictures 11 to 16 show Liverpool 869 being unloaded on 26th November. As can be seen there were no health and safety risk assessments in those days. A start was made on laying track for what would become the operating line using concrete sleepers and second hand tram rail. This was much harder work than light weight quarry rail on wooden sleepers.
Similar progress continued in 1962 with Depot II being extended sideways to accommodate another six trams. The new part being known as Depot III. Later in the year Depot II was extended forward by one tram length so that it could now hold nine cars. Work continued on the main line with the construction of a crossover at Town End using track from Beauchief in Sheffield. Following this work started on a permanent track fan in front of Depot II using lightweight rail from the Isle of Man (picture 17), which was completed early in 1963. A flat wagon mounted on a tramcar truck from Leeds and a rail mounted crane from Sheffield were absolutely invaluable for this work and for many, many years to come. They are shown in pictures 18 and 19. A start was made on the first major restoration project on Leicester 76 and lots of smaller jobs were done on individual trams (pictures 20 and 21).
The major event of 1962 was the closure of Glasgow tramways – the last British city to operate trams. Following this several Glasgow trams arrived at Crich. It is worth mentioning that Crich track is standard gauge but Glasgow tracks were slightly narrower so all their trams had to be re-gauged. The other event that had a major impact on the Museum was the decision by Blackpool Transport Committee to dispose of all their surplus trams including open top number 1, toastrack 2, single deck ‘box’ 40, double deck open balcony 40 and Dreadnought 59. The Society responded by issuing an emergency appeal for funds to transport these cars to Crich and to erect more depots. The appeal was successful and all of these trams came to Crich over the next few years.
1963Early in 1963 the Tramway Museum Society was incorporated as a company limited by guarantee and the new company held its first AGM on 23rd March. To this day members guarantee the sum of £1 in the event of the Society becoming insolvent. The Society was also registered as a charity that year.
The most exciting development in 1963 was the start of regular tramcar operation on Sunday afternoons using Sheffield 15 and Bonny, a horse hired from a local farmer. It was only a short ride from the present terminus at Town End to the now Craft Cottage and the fares were 6d return with half-fare for children. Track work had continued each weekend with a track fan for Depot II fabricated entirely from heavy duty tram rail. By the end of 1963, 22 trams were stored under cover and a further 10 were standing outside. Amongst the trams arriving in 1963 was Glasgow 1297 on 13th July (picture 28).
The initial objective of the Society had been to save and operate a few trams. Once an affordable home had been found preservation schemes mushroomed, leading to the famous quotation ‘once we have put a length of track down, someone comes and puts a tram on it’. A sub-committee was formed to look into this and their report known as the Trams Report was presented to an EGM on 30th November. This far sighted report developed a collections policy for tramcars and assessed each tram at Crich against this policy resulting in some seemingly unwanted trams. A compromise was reached and these trams were retained as operational duplicates but future acquisitions must comply with the policy. It was also agreed that no tramcar would be permanently disposed of without the approval of an AGM or EGM.
|30. A recent picture looking up the line from Town End. In 1964 the track was a single line which extended from Town End to approximately the Bowes-Lyon bridge in the background.|
The major project for the first few months of 1964 was the erection of steel traction poles and overhead wire for the main line which stretched from the entrance at Town End to the present Bowes-Lyon bridge. The Museum had acquired a number of digging tools designed to dig holes about six feet deep in the soft sandy soil often found in towns and cities near rivers. They were not designed for the very heavy sticky clay and rocks found at the top of a Derbyshire hill. Digging holes had started late in 1963 but progress was very slow. When some second hand Sheffield poles were delivered in December of that year, the first one was planted by the delivery crane in a hole that had been prepared earlier.
By mid-March, about ten poles complete with finials were standing in their appointed places. The process of planting the poles without modern equipment was not easy. The crane, the small diesel loco ‘Rupert’ and the flat truck loaded with stones and lots of people with long ropes were all needed. First the crane’s hook was attached to the pole just above the middle shoulder, with timber packing to prevent it slipping. Three ropes were attached to the top of the pole and fed out in different directions. Rupert then towed the crane until the base of the pole came against a length of angle iron placed in the hole as a guide. As the crane lifted the pole it was guided by people on the end of the ropes to prevent it tearing out the sides of the holes. When the pole reached the bottom of the hole it was held at the correct backward rake by the ropes. Then stones were tipped into the hole and rammed down by crow bars until the pole was secure. Concrete was then poured into the hole. This method has stood the test of time as many of the original poles are still in place 45 years later.
Pole planting continued throughout April with the record for one weekend being four. The last pole went up on 10th May. In parallel with this steel span wires had been strung between the poles. The single copper conductor wire was installed over the Whitsuntide weekend (May 16th – 18th) using the flat wagon to hold a cable drum on ‘A’ frames and a primitive tower wagon that had been obtained from the Grimsby and Immingham tramway.
|31. This picture of Grimsby and Immingham 20 (now Gateshead 5) must have been taken in March or April 1964. It was painted in the green BR livery of the time. Some poles and span wires are in place.|
|32. Putting up the new and very shiny copper wire. The diesel engine ‘Rupert’ was originally narrow gauge and had been converted to standard gauge in 1963.|
Work was also in hand to install a suitable power supply. Trams run on DC electricity at about 550 volts with a peak load in the region of 100 amps. This is serious electricity as the owners of new hybrid buses will find out. Tentative discussions with the East Midlands Electricity Board started in 1961 when a domestic supply was installed. Needless to say the Museum was at the end of a power line for three phase current at 415 volts AC and the cost of installing a more robust supply was prohibitive. Consideration was then given to a diesel generator and it was decided convert the Sheffield illuminated tram 349 into a generator car numbered 01. Work commenced in 1962 when a Northern General bus GUP 105 was purchased for its Gardner 5LW engine which was to power a Doncaster trolleybus motor as a dynamo to generate DC. This project took much longer than anticipated and was not completed until 1965.
In January 1964 an alternative power source arrived. This generator had been donated by then Vice-President, Mr C G Potter, who supervised its building up from various components. It was carefully unloaded and installed in the engine shed. In effect, this generator converted three phase AC current from the public supply to 400 volts DC sufficient for driving one tram. The AC supply drove a Lancashire Dynamo motor which in turn rotated a Rees Rototurbo Manufacturing Co generator. It had been assembled and tested prior to delivery. The next few months were taken up with the associated wiring and switchgear and the installation of feeder cables to the adjacent traction pole. It was also necessary to check that all the rails on the proposed running line were bonded together to form the return circuit and that the wiring of the trams to be used was in good order. This was done using batteries.
|33. A recent picture showing the small building left that was the first shop and where the domestic electricity supply was installed in 1961. There were no gates to the Museum in the 60s.|
|34. The engine shed is the brick building on the left of this picture which was taken several years later. The engine shed was demolished in the 1990s to make way for the library.|
|35. Blackpool ‘box’ 40 running under battery power in the winter of 1963/64.|
|36. Generator car 01 being used to test rail bonds in June 1964.|
Saturday, June 6th 1964 was the most momentous in the history of the Museum when the traction electricity supply was connected. Members had worked well into the night on Friday to install a 100 amp earth trip required by the Electricity Board inspector. Blackpool & Fleetwood 2 was the first tram to operate under its own power. Blackpool 49 and Glasgow 22 were also used later in the day with many excited members having a ride. The next day Sheffield 510 and Blackpool ‘box’ 40 made appearances. The remainder of June was taken with tidying up, checking and testing the electrical installations. On Saturday, 4th July, Mr R Edgley-Cox General Manager of Walsall Corporation Transport inspected the site on behalf of the insurance company and pronounced himself satisfied. Public passenger carrying services on electric trams started at 2:00 pm the next day. Two trams were used: Blackpool & Fleetwood 2 and Blackpool 49. One of them loaded and unloaded whilst the other made a return trip up the single line. Each tram had a driver and a guard and the one conductor remained at Town End collecting fares. The fares remained 6d and 3d for 1964 but were doubled the following year when the line was extended.
The first tram to be repainted at Crich was Blackpool 49. It had arrived in December 1962 in operational condition but rather down at heel. It was painted in the then prevailing green livery. A local member, Dennis Waters, paid for it to be repainted in the pre-war red and white livery. This was done in the stone workshop by Derby based contractors, Ford and Weston and 40 emerged in May looking immaculate. A Scottish member spent two weeks working on Glasgow 1115 which was transformed from a ‘filthy and derelict state to one of our best exhibits’.
|37. Blackpool 49 in May 1964 immediately after its repaint.|
|38. Blackpool 49 in June 1964 on a test run.|
By 1964 the Museum had grown and nearly all of the original parcel of land was in use. This had been purchased from the landlord for £1,000 in 1960. Car parking had become a problem and with the increasing numbers of visitors something had to be done. The top road area to the east was purchased for £3,000 in 1964 which provided an alternative entrance and much need parking spaces. Over the coming years more land was purchased as it became available so that now the Tramway Museum Society owns the freehold of the entire Museum. November 1964 saw another in extension to the depots with Depot IV being added to the side of Depot III. This was to provide accommodation for another five trams.
|39. The original boundary was approximately the trees and the bottom of the grass bank in this picture.|
|40. The 1964 land purchase included the land behind the kerb in this picture (and to the left) up to and including the road to the car park. The Red Lion, Tea Rooms, Sweetshop and Ice Cream Parlour and the staff car park now occupy this land.|
|41. The new Depot IV under construction in November 1964. The trams are Blackpool balcony 40, Sheffield 264 and Leeds 180.|
|42. Visitors admire Sheffield 264 in November 1964.|
Once regular electric tramcar operation had been established the next priority was to extend the running line in time for the 1965 season. For the record the trams that were used in 1964 were: Blackpool & Fleetwood 2, Blackpool ‘balcony’ 40, ‘box’40, Blackpool 49, Glasgow 22, Grimsby & Immingham 5, Sheffield 46, 510 and Southampton 45. Horse tram Sheffield 15 was used on Sundays until the end of June. Trams continued to arrive at the Museum during 1964, the most notable being Johannesburg 60 in December. It had been shipped from South Africa in three parts: top deck, bottom deck and truck. It was British built and had been acquired as one of the last surviving examples of the open balcony design.
During the winter of 1964/65 the main line was extended to Cliffside which was about where end of the double line points are now. The track laying went well and was complete before the end of the year but the pole holes were a different story. Solid rock was encountered at a depth of four feet and the holes needed to be six feet deep. After much deliberation a firm of explosive experts were contacted in March and the poles were erected during April and on Saturday 8th May the wire was strung. Blackpool ‘balcony’ 40 performed the first test run the same day. The other winter project was for a short length of double track at the southern end of the line. Both the new stretches of line looked very neat being filled to rail head with stone ballast. Passenger service on the new line began on 23rd May with Blackpool 59 being the first car. The new fares came into operation on the same day.
|43. Southampton 45 on the newly extended track to Cliffside.|
|44. Southampton 45 on new double track. The tram body on the right was Leicester 99 which acquired for spare parts for 76 but was used as a mess room for several years.|
|45. Blackpool 59 ‘the Dreadnought’ returning from Cliffside. This tram had only arrived from Blackpool in March.|
|46. Town End terminus in 1965.|
Returning to the power supply, the Gardner 5LW engine and the trolleybus motor had been connected together on a metal frame by a contractor. They returned to Crich and were placed in 01 in December 1964. Work was in hand to connect everything up when the Potter generator suffered a catastrophic failure on May 11th. With the help of the Midland General bus company with such matters as exhausts and radiators 01 was brought into use on 15th May. It was more powerful than its predecessor generating 450 volts with a maximum load of 120 amps. However if two trams set off together the engine would slow down so the trams ran with their lights on and drivers were instructed to reduce power demands if the lights dimmed.
|47. Generator car 01 in use with a healthy exhaust smoke caused by Blackpool 59’s starting load. Current was fed to the overhead line from 01’s trolley pole.|
|48. The interior of Blackpool 59 showing the rather dim lights.|
The failure of the Potter generator coincided with the first television filming at the Museum. Johannesburg 60 had been disguised using water colour paint to resemble a Notts & Tram and starred in an adaptation of a D H Lawrence short story ‘Tickets Please’. The power failure meant that 60 had to be pushed by the diesel engine which was off camera. Blackpool 49 suffered a motor failure during the summer but was quickly restored to service by ‘borrowing’ a bogie from Blackpool 167.
|49. Notts & Derby 14 showing the local adverts and destination RIPLEY.|
|50. Two of the characters in the film: a tram conductress and an inspector.|
|51. Notts & Derby 14 at the entrance to Depot IV after the filming. The track for Depot IV was far from complete.|
Enhancements were made to the overhead wire by stringing single wires to serve each of Depots II, III and IV. The sales outlet was moved to larger premises – former Glasgow works tram W21. A new wooden mess hut with bunk beds and cooking facilities was built. This was called the Crich Hilton because it was warmer and dryer than anything that had gone before. Plans were being developed for a fully equipped workshop because the only inspection pit was out in the open; similarly for a more powerful generator and a building to house it.
Throughout the year work continued on individual trams usually by sponsor groups of three or four members. A group of Scottish members completed the previous year’s work on Glasgow 1115 and during a two-week holiday in August, they repainted Glasgow 812 as a yellow car. Sheffield 189 was repainted by Sheffield members and work continued most weekends and some weekday evenings on the Leicester 76 project. Another small team were working on the steam tram. Glasgow 1100 was professionally repainted by contractors working in the stone workshop during June 1965. The early overhead line was not suitable for bow collectors so to be able to run, it was fitted with a trolley and was satisfactorily tested in September. The following trams were used in service in 1965; Blackpool 2, balcony 40, box 40, 49, 59, Glasgow 22, Sheffield 46, 510 and Southampton 45.
|52. Leeds 180 on Bacon’s Curve and Blackpool ‘box’ 40 and Leeds 600 in Depot II.|
53. Glasgow 1100 and Sheffield 510 at Town End in September 1965.
|Sheffield 46 was a regular passenger tram in the early days, running every year except 1969 between 1964 and 1973. It is seen here in 1967.|
The original Crich limestone quarry had closed in 1957 and the plan was to extend the tramway through the base of the quarry. However late in 1965 Mr H Camm negotiated with the landowners to reopen the quarry and install a stone crusher right on the line of the proposed tramway. Mr Camm offered to bulldoze an alternative route to the west and work started in January 1966. The last few yards of the existing track also had to be slewed sideways. At the same time work started on a new power house at the back of Depot II and another major extension to the depot complex which would eventually become the Workshop. A reconditioned Paxman/Brush diesel generator set was delivered in March and brought into use in late August. This was far more powerful than any of the previous traction power sources and still exists as a standby generator.
|54. The framework for the workshop looking south. The track connection to the stone workshop had been severed. The stone workshop and Leicester 76 can be seen in the background.|
|55. The framework for the workshop looking north with Depot II on the left and Depot A on the right.|
|56. A recent view of the Paxman generator.|
An open air maintenance pit was constructed using the foundations of the former quarry explosive store which, although primitive, was better than crawling under trams that were standing on uneven ground. In September the foundation stone was laid for a new bookshop and toilet building which became today’s sweet shop.
|57. Ron Heed pushing a bogie over the outdoor inspection pit.|
|58. Glasgow works tram W21 in use as the bookshop. The new permanent building would be immediately behind it.|
|59. Another view of W21 looking south. The steam tram is in the background.|
A lot of work was done on the trams during 1966 with several operating in service for the first time. The steam tram engine pulling horse tram Oporto 9 was in service on Members’ Day in May. It also pulled Blackpool & Fleetwood 2 one weekend when a power failure prevented electric operation. Glasgow 812 which had been repainted the previous year entered service in July following problems with a defective motor. Sheffield 189 followed in September after a major refurbishment. During August two members had repainted Grimsby & Immingham 20 into its original colours as Gateshead 5. There was a ceremonial first run in September although a lot of detailed work remained to be done. The Scottish project for August 1966 was to repaint Glasgow 1297 into its original 1948 livery. Sponsor groups worked on many other trams and in particular the restoration of Leicester 76. The following trams were used in service in 1966; Blackpool 2, 49, Glasgow 22, 812, 1100, Oporto 9 (with steam tram), Sheffield 46, 189, 510 and Southampton 45.
|60. Glasgow 812 fitted with a trolley pole.|
|62. Southampton 45 was the most used tram in 1966.|
|61. A resplendent Sheffield 189 at Town End.|
|63. Work on trams was often carried out in the open air. Here the Blackpool electric loco’s trolley receives attention outside the stone workshop.|
|64. Leeds 602 near the open air inspection pit. Note the jumper cable from the bow collector to the overhead wire. This was used to get trams in and out of the depots for many years.|
Building work for the new bookshop continued at weekends throughout the winter but the major construction project was a trench from the bookshop to the public road for mains drainage. This had to be six feet deep and have a continuous gradient. For the first four feet volunteers dug away with hand tools at the weekend and during the week the rain came down and washed the dirt back into the trench. Wooden shuttering boards eventually solved this problem but then there was solid rock in the bottom. An ingenious scheme for breaking the obstinate rock comprised pouring fuel oil into a pit beneath it, lighting the oil and then pouring cold water on to the rock. All this was to no avail and contractors had to be called in. Work continued throughout the winter on extending the track and overhead line to another intermediate terminus at Cabin Crossing which opened in April 1967 but work continued throughout the year with Wakebridge as the next goal.
|65. Blackpool & Fleetwood 2 leaving three passengers at the new Cabin Crossing terminus.|
|66. Glasgow 812 at Cabin Crossing followed by Glasgow 22.|
|67. Turning trolleys was not easy as there were rocky banks on both sides.|
The major tram restoration project in 1966-67 was Paisley 68. This had arrived at Crich as fully enclosed top covered car very similar to Glasgow 812. The entire Glasgow top cover was removed and the double-skin floor was re-canvassed. Other modern features which were taken out included the compressor and air piping, the controller interlocks and the platform vestibules. Most of the brass castings had ‘L.C.C.T’ stamped on them, as 68 was built by Hurst Nelson who had built very similar cars for London. Over the winter new top deck seats were made in Glasgow and many other fixtures and fittings were refurbished. In the summer of 1967, the Scottish group reassembled and repainted 68 and tested it on the main line. 68 took part in a Members’ Day procession in October but didn’t enter regular service. Following the precedent set by Manchester 765, Liverpool 869 left Crich during 1967 to return to Green Lane Depot in Liverpool for restoration work by local members.
|68. Glasgow 1068 as it was delivered to Crich in 1960.|
|69. Paisley 68 above the open air inspection pit in the summer of 1967.|
|70. Paisley 68 on the main line but still in undercoat.|
In January 1966 a sub-committee had been set up to consider the creation of an authentic British tramway atmosphere at Crich and their report was published in April 1967 and was adopted at an EGM in the autumn. The Tramway Museum Society’s original objective of saving some trams and operating them for the public had been achieved. This report considered visitor circulation and amenities and proposed the development of a vintage street at the southern end of the running line separated from the quarry by a bridge over the tracks. As recommended several new buildings have been built and others brought to Crich and reconstructed. Street furniture such as tram shelters and authentic granite setts and kerb stones and vastly improved visitor amenities were all part of the plan. The proposals for a short broad and narrow gauge tramway and a separate horse and steam tramway have not materialised although the main line is longer than envisaged.
On the commercial side a charge of one shilling for car parking was introduced in 1967. This was because a survey had revealed that the Museum had more visitors than fare paying tram passengers. To a considerable extent 1967 was a year of consolidation and work continued on the new bookshop which was being fitted out by the end of the year and converting the newly extended depot into a workshop.
|71. Most maintenance work etc was still done in the open air.|
|72. A winter scene early in 1968. Blackpool 158 was a former illuminated standard car which had been bought for spares and was ultimately broken up.|
The new bookshop which also housed the first ‘proper’ toilets opened for the 1968 season. This had largely been the work of one skilled member with other members acting as labourers. The track extension to a new ‘Y’ shaped terminus at Wakebridge opened in May. The major volunteer project which took several years became the construction of inspection pits for the new workshop. Another sideways extension was added to the depot complex known as Depot V and this was filled with six non-running trams with the aid of greased rails, fishplates, temporary track and a great deal of elbow-grease exerted by a team of volunteers. The first trams in Depot V were Hull 132, Gateshead 52, Cheltenham 21, Leeds 345, Blackpool 167 and Glasgow cable car 1. Gateshead 5 and Leeds 180 entered passenger service during 1968.
|73. A recent view of the 1968 bookshop which is now used as a sweet shop. The wooden facia boards and the bay windows were added later.|
|74. Glasgow 812, now fitted with a bow collector, at the new Wakebridge terminus in 1968.|
|76. Glasgow cable car 1 and Blackpool works car 02.|
The word ‘Extravaganza’ entered the Museum’s vocabulary in 1968 with a two day event on August Bank Holiday weekend. The main attractions were a traditional fairground, balloon ascents and vintage vehicles including steam traction engines. This event was promoted jointly with Old Motor Magazine. It was a huge success despite heavy rain and over 16,000 passengers were carried on the trams over a period of three days. It was estimated that 150 volunteers had contributed to the event.
Immediately prior to the Extravaganza, Prague 180 arrived at Crich. It is difficult now to remember what a remarkable story this was. The iron curtain and the cold war were prominent in people’s minds and the perceived threats were more credible than today’s WMDs. The overland journey from Prague to Crich was intended to promote Czech exports to Western Europe but the Russians invaded Czechoslovakia the day after 180 had crossed into Germany and had arrived in Nuremburg for an overnight stop. The Czech delivery team decided to carry on with their planned journey and 180 became headline news in Germany, Holland and then the UK when it reached Felixstowe. It arrived at Crich on the Friday afternoon and very soon it had been winched off the low loader and then the Czech team checked it out and drove it up the line. Prague 180 was formerly handed over on Bank Holiday Sunday by the Czech Commercial Attaché and received by the local MP the Right Honourable George Brown, deputy leader of the Labour Party.
|77. Glasgow 812 and Blackpool & Fleetwood 2 passing the Extravaganza fairground.|
|78. The Czech low loader which had brought Prague 180 at Town End.|
|79. Prague 180 as delivered standing at Town End.|
|80. George Brown at the microphone with TMS President, Chaceley Humpidge on his left.|
1969The winter of 1968-69 can be summed up by the expression ‘pits and drains’. The heavy clay soil at Crich is impervious to water and as the site had developed, a lack of drains had become more and more of a problem. The one main drain was extended northwards and a number of drainage pits and soakaways constructed in other areas. Work on the inspection pits continued throughout 1969 installing steel work which would support the rails and form the sides of the pits.
|81. Easter 1969. Over the five day weekend 13,698 passengers were carried.|
|82. Prague 180 and Blackpool 49 early in 1969.|
|83. Gateshead 5 in the summer of 1969.|
Restoration work continued on several trams including Leeds 602 and Sheffield 264 both of which operated test runs under their own power. During 1969, Glasgow 1297 and Leeds 600 were the first four motor bogie cars to enter passenger service. Their power requirements would have made this impossible without the Paxman generator. Work had continued in the stone workshop on Leicester 76 during 1968 and in the early summer of 1969 it was manhandled on temporary tracks onto the main line. It was magnificent and entered passenger service at the Extravaganza.
|84. Leeds 602 on a test run.|
|85. Wakebridge with Sheffield 264 on a test run and two Glasgow trams (1100 and 1297) in passenger service. Passengers were not allowed to alight at Wakebridge at that time.|
|86. Glasgow 1297 in service.|
|87. Glasgow 812 was converted to wartime condition for the 1969 Extravaganza. Visiting Derby trolleybus 215 is parked on the left and Sheffield 189 is in the centre. Note that the Museum is still open to the road with no gates or fencing.|
|88. Blackpool works car 02 was transformed into an illuminated car for the Extravaganza using several decorative panels and 400 coloured lamps.|
|89. Leicester 76 in October 1969 about to take part in a members’ day procession.|
90. Unfortunately 76 derailed but it was back on the track within 30 minutes.
|91. Leeds 180 and Glasgow 812 at Wakebridge in October 1969.|
From Whit Sunday, tram fares on Sundays were raised from one to two shillings return for adults with half fares for children. 117,150 passengers were carried during 1969 by a total of 12 trams (Blackpool 2, 49, 59, Gateshead 5, Glasgow 22, 812, 1297, Leeds 180, 600, Prague 180, Sheffield 189, 510). This was a tremendous achievement for an all volunteer Society with no paid staff. Incidentally the Museum’s first telephone line was installed in 1969. It was a pay phone in the members’ hut with an extension to the resident security officer’s caravan.
In the eleven years from 1959 to 1969, the Crich site had been developed from a derelict quarry into a successful museum and tourist attraction – all by the efforts of volunteers. The next decade would bring more successes and national recognition to the Museum.