The NTM organised an impressive turnout of trams on Saturday 10 September which despite the miserable weather in the morning attracted a crowd of visitors with a distinctive mix of determined tram followers and visitors with families. I arrived in the afternoon from Oxford heading back to Blackpool. . Fortunately the incessant rain had just moved on leaving overcast skies. The scene greeting me on reaching Crich and Town End was a constant stream of trams of varied shapes and sizes; whilst the shunting of cars was underway as preliminary to the formal handover of the Oporto Works Car to the Beamish Museum.
Line up of Oporto cars on the depot track fan with the works car positioned for a formal handover ceremony.
Time constraints allowed me just one full ride along the familiar line so I opted to catch the resplendent 1622 London Transport (Rehab) car which I had not previously seen in service. The interior was immaculate and I was struck by the wonderful moquette trim on the seats (on both decks) which must have been a massive change to Londoners from the worn darkened versions and wooden variety on the top deck (Outside) of most of the capital's tram fleet in the 1930s. Of course this was mostly a recreation job with a new top deck and end platforms added to a worn lower deck 'saloon' found in a rural setting after withdrawal. I had previously ridden on HR2 1858 at Lowestoft at a time when it still retained its original moquette seating (now renewed) so the chance to sample a counterpart was distinctly welcome - and I was much impressed. Below : a gleaming LT 1622 awaits its turn to collect passengers at Town End. The upper deck of 1622 showing off the remarkable 1930s moquette finish on the seating and bright ceiling finish complete with light varnished woodwork.
So varied was the turnout it was difficult where to focus one's attention for more than a minute. Blackpool trams were very much in evidence with 762 seemingly out of place in its sponsor advertising and definitely non-heritage appearance. Standard 40, the boat car and toastrack provided more traditional rides - all being very popular with the crowds. London's 331 and 159 together with LCC 106 driven by Derek Redmond ensured London visitors were amply satisfied with a varied offer. A very nice touch was the provision of cab rides (in cramped conditions) in the Blackpool Works locomotive, whilst Cardiff 131 and the Berlin 'Reko' tram also were given outings along a very busy line. Glasgow, Paisley, Leeds trams intermingled on the schedule, and I am sure I must have missed a good many more of the Museum's collection earlier in the day.
Negotiating the half and half 'Robinson' staircase on LUT 159 with its immaculate lining out in the corner pillars.
The rain has stopped to allow Blackpool open cars to be placed in the busy schedule - together with Standard 40 - that Blackpool open balcony classic built at Rigby Road.
A rarity taken from 1622 - the Blackpool 'locomotive' in passenger carrying mode - standing room only - en route back to Town End.
My usual intermittent visits to Crich are normally on regular days with no more than a handful of trams providing rides. So to witness this particular 'Extravaganza' was a wonderful experience, if only a brief one. The Oporto Coal Car ceremony was duly held with a large audience for the presentation and the car itself sandwiched between the diminutive horse car and the classic Brill bogie car from that city. I am sure much use will be applied to the Oporto coal car on its arrival at Beamish. It will of course join a sister two axle tram from that system, albeit in a different livery. My visit to Oxford included a detour in Birmingham to see Centenary 643 in the enormous Washwood Heath railway assembly plant alongside varied diesel locos owned by the Colas company. The tram is in the final stages of its makeover (see earlier blog) and should be resplendent in an updated version of its cream and green appearance which improved its looks considerably at the Broadwater caravan park. The new version has a couple of added touches together with BTS logos kindly approved by Rigby Road management (and hand delivered by the author) to the paintshop at Washwood Heath. Peter Watts will be pleased to know that 643 retains its destination blinds from its final years in service - no change there.....
Derek Redmond in tram driver mode and in the correct stance at the controls of LCC 106.