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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Brief Encounter (at Crich)

​The National Tramway Museum remains much as it has been for the past twenty odd years with a full Workshop, depot halls and Exhibition Hall. The route has not varied or extended, while the proforma service and display format varies little.

Stripping LCC 1 is the focus of the Workshop with an almost skeletal car showing its wooden framework and detail (Above). Alongside, Glasgow 22 is undergoing attention while the almost new build LUT 159 was having further attention.

Blackpool Standard 40 was one of a trio of trams in service and looked very impressive both inside and out - particularly with passengers on board. The Berlin 'Reko' car with its wheelchair provision has been very carefully repainted to its earlier BVB (East Berlin) condition and looked equally imposing (in its own way) on static display at the Town End terminus - awaiting disabled requirements.

Rotten weather - great tram. Classic Blackpool Standard Car 40 in nearly the same condition as sister car 143 is destined to appear (but not quite) in 2016.

Above : A brave experiment originating in Glasgow and ending up in Leeds. Leeds Vambac Car 602 sidelined twice from its deserved place in the pantheon of UK tram development. First in Leeds where it was demoted to operating a short street track route to the backwater of Hunslet - and now at Crich where a generous financial bequest to fund its overhaul to operational condition (a la LCC 1) has been spurned by the TMS Board. Not much chance of that happening at Rigby Road ! Closeup of the centre entrance but sorry - no entry. The Exhibition Hall had given up some of its space for a seasonal Crafts Fair and Leeds 602 - now the subject of grave Membership disquiet - is almost apologetically sidelined towards the back of the far corner track, ironically overshadowed by Glasgow's Mark II Coronation. Facing out from the storage depots was Blackpool 49 looking tired, and Pantograph 167 in a much more gleaming state. It is very difficult to adequately display or present these (and many other trams in the NTM Collection) in anything close to a fulsome state given the tightness of tracks and finite amount of space available. Apart from trams at the front of the storage depots, and from spaces vacated by those in service - it is almost impossible to view the wonderful collection accumulated at Crich: with others of course stored completely out of sight at somewhere called Clay Cross. These are all lessons for the forthcoming Rigby Road depot development, of which more details will be announced in due course.

Some time ago there were murmerings of a property development scheme taking over the former adjacent quarry site at Crich for housing and some commercial or leisure investment . This might have opened up a whole new dimension for the Society's tramway experience (and external financing); but nothing so far has been heard since the initial approaches. A great pity, as the site is in an abandoned state and could offer an enormous amount of land for the Museum to expand on - particularly if it involved a commercial partner, which would, in any event, be a prerequisite to attract serious capital.

All Images : John Woodman

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