Derbyshire 12 - We are gonna rock you down to Electric Avenue - a tramway trip

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June 15th 2014
Published: June 17th 2014
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We have been home now for the past two weeks. Where has the time disappeared to? When you are younger a year lasts forever, a month feels like a year, a week like a month, a day like a week . But as you get older it seems to disappear quickly into a black hole and you wonder where it went to. Suzy gets her windscreen makeover tomorrow but that's another day. She still needs cleaning and it is a job that will need to be done sooner rather then later. But then there is today................

Today we take you down Electric Avenue.

There you go - I got the song in. Eddie Grant - go on sing along . We did as we walked down the street. Quietly of course. It is one of those songs that get you tapping your feet to the beat and singing along with Eddie.

Our visit was going to be to the National Tramway Museum at Crich in Derbyshire. Just down the road from our new home but we have never been before. This was to be a first visit for us and apart from reading a little we had little idea what to expect. But as we both love railway museums and steam trains there was every liklihood we would love it.

Weatherwise the weather has been disappointingly cold for June and looks set to continue. So we left home for the short drive to Crich with a nip in the air and the hint of rain. Luckily apart from the odd speck or two it kept off all morning.

We drove the short distance to the small village of Crich pronounced Crych which is home to the Crich Stand.

The Stand is a situated just outside the village on a hill 950 feet above the Derbyshire countryside. Not high by Welsh standards but still a vantage point where can view both Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire and conversely it is seen from both counties. The importance of being seen from both counties comes to the forefront after the First World War ended.

The hill had been used by the Romans and had been mentioned as the Crich Stand by the Normans and was an important place in the hearts of the Crich villagers. After the end of the First World War a site for a memorial to those lost from the Sherwood Foresters Regiment had to be chosen. It had to be acceptable to both counties and Crich Stand was chosen for the erection of the memorial.

Several towers had been built on the site, one in wood which had fallen down , a second built for the commemoration of the coronation of George III. This was the third to be built on the site and some of the stone was used on this tower from the older tower.

It is built like a lighthouse and has a light on top which revolves. At night it can be seen 38 miles away. It was not open today so we did not have the chance to climb to the top sadly. Another day perhaps. It looked a peaceful spot to view the world from and also a poignant reminder that it is now 100 years since the start of the First World War.

We were lucky enough to have a book of vouchers for Days out issued by the Caravan Club. We have never used these before but checked through to see what we could visit locally. We dug out our two for one ticket for the Crich tramway and set out.

The cost of entry is normally £10. 50 for seniors but we got in for £5.25 each. This saving meant a pot of tea for two and a couple of scones perhaps in Ritas café later in the morning . We were issued with our two 1d coins to use to ride the trams all day. These are exchanged for the ticket for the tram ride.

We are both too young to remember trams on the roads of our towns although there were trams in both Wrexham and Chesterfield right up to the late 50's and early 60's. We have used them in Blackpool and on the continent and rather find them nostalgic as they clatter along the streets of Seville, Mulhouse, and other European cities. Even the modern ones have a certain charm.

We walked out of the ticket office along Main Street which is criss crossed with the iron tram lines and lined by old buildings rescued from demolition elsewhere. The Red Lion pub rescued from Stoke on Trent , red brick and beautiful glass windows. Rather antiseptic inside it is currently used as a cafe serving Brampton Ales and Pie and Peas dinners. The Derby Assembly Rooms were moved stone by stone from the city centre after a disastrous fire. .

The electricity lines criss cross the road above our heads. Walking under the Boyes Lyon Bridge we were greeted with the sight of the first tram of the day.

Different trams run each day and the number depends very heavily on how many volunteers turn up. Two were running today plus one other which was not picking up passengers along its route as a learner driver was in control. Some days are special events and these are themed. Within a few minutes of walking down Main Street a cream tram rumbled towards us. This was Sheffields last tram taken out of commission in 1960. Funny how Sheffield got rid of its trams fairly late and was the first city to reinstate them. Walking past old phone boxes we stopped at the tram stop which was painted green and alighted our tram. We chose to go upstairs – well you do don’t you! It is still that childlike curiousity to climb the steep stairs and see what is upstairs. The world looks different from the top of a bus or tram . It is not the same to travel on the lower deck of a bus or a tram. Not as interesting nor as adventurous. Our tram trundled up the track past the open fields and industrial quarry heritage. It is not a long track but nevertheless interesting. It would be lovely if they could buy more land and extend the route but what there is is both small and perfect.

At the halfway point of the journey the tram stopped. The conductor punched our tickets. The driver came to tell us a little about the history of the tram. They then unhooked the electric cable and moved it to the opposite end of the tram ready to start the journey back to Main Street. We all had to swivel our seats round so that we faced direction of travel . Quite a novel experience. You always faced forward and the right way.

After our ride we called into the café for our scone and tea. It did cost a little more than the £5.20 we saved on entry. It was rather nice smothered in butter and thick jam. For a Tuesday there were quite a few people visiting. There is also an old fashioned sweet shop to tempt you, a old fashioned printers shop and an ice cream parlour.

After we had left Main Street we went in to the museum itself. A really interesting building full to the brim with the history of trams from the early horse driven ones of the 1880’s right up to the later 1950 models. The workshop was full of trams in the process of renovation. No 2 Blackpool to Fleetwood next to Headingly 899. Many from Glasgow including the Woodlands Road to Sauchiehall Street which we rode on. Hard seats but I guess this form of transport was better than walking. We wondered how long a journey would have taken on one from Wrexham to Rhosllanerchrugog around 5 miles away.

Our favourites were the Porto number 9 as we had seen similar more modern versions still running in the Portuguese city of Porto during our September holiday. And the Chesterfield to Brampton early model number 8 which was local to Glenn and one his mum would have recognised and possibly travelled on. All were neatly displayed and even included a Cardiff model complete with welsh translation of don’t climb the steps. The potted history of tram transport was here in every detail and beautifully set out with descriptive panels.

It was a shame to leave as it was such a different museum and a lovely one at that. We have been to quite a few railway museums but this was very different . How have we missed it before? A fantastic day out.

Additional photos below
Photos: 10, Displayed: 10


18th June 2014
Glass window at the pub

At the pub
Time for a pint
18th June 2014
Glass window at the pub

time for a pint
Guess we should have sampled the Brampton local ale on sale .

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