National Tramway Museum

Coordinates: 53°05′21″N 1°29′11″W / 53.08930°N 1.48632°W / 53.08930; -1.48632
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Crich features working trams in a traditional street setting. This 1931 Leeds tram is about to pass under the historic Bowes-Lyon Bridge
A line up of trams at Town End terminus at National Tramway Museum, Crich, Derbyshire

The National Tramway Museum (trading as Crich Tramway Village) is a tram museum located at Crich (listen), Derbyshire, England. The museum contains over 60 (mainly British) trams built between 1873 and 1982[1] and is set within a recreated period village containing a working pub, cafe, old-style sweetshop and tram depots.[2] The museum's collection of trams runs through the village-setting with visitors transported out into the local countryside and back[3] and is operated by the Tramway Museum Society, a registered charity.[4]

The Crich Tramway Village remains an independent charity, which receives no funding from the state or local government and relies on the voluntary contribution made by members of the Tramway Museum Society and its visitors.[5]

History of the museum[edit]

A 1925 Leeds tram at Victoria Park, at the entrance to the Village

History of the site[edit]

A 1936 Liverpool streamlined tram outside the reconstructed Derby Assembly Rooms at Crich Town End

George Stephenson, the great railway pioneer, had a close connection with Crich and the present (2008) tramway follows part of the mineral railway he built to link the quarry with Ambergate.[6]

While building the North Midland Railway from Derby to Rotherham and Leeds, Stephenson had found rich coal seams in the Clay Cross area and he saw a new business opportunity. Crich was already well known for the quality of the limestone and Stephenson recognised that he could use the local coal and limestone to produce burnt lime for agricultural purposes, and then utilise the new railway to distribute it. Cliff Quarry, where Crich Tramway Village is now located, was acquired by Stephenson's company and to link the quarry with the limekilns he had built alongside the new North Midland Railway at Ambergate, Stephenson constructed a 1,000 mm (3 ft 3+38 in) gauge line - apparently the first metre gauge railway in the world. Stephenson was born in Wylam in Northumberland in 1781, but he lived the last 10 years of his life in Chesterfield, often bringing visitors to Crich to see the mineral railway and take refreshment in one of the village inns. He died in 1848 and is buried in Holy Trinity Church, Chesterfield. Stephenson's railway soldiered on for many years.[6][7]

Tramway Museum Society[edit]

In the period after the Second World War, when most of the remaining British tramways were in decline or actually closing, the first event in the history of the National Tramway Museum took place. A group of enthusiasts on a farewell tour of Southampton Tramways in August 1948 decided to purchase one of the open top trams on which they had ridden. For the sum of £10 they purchased number 45 – now included in collection at the museum. From this purchase grew the idea of a working museum devoted to operating tramcars. From the original group developed the Tramway Museum Society, established in 1955, incorporated as a company limited by guarantee in 1962, and recognised as an educational charity in 1963.

Acquisition of the site[edit]

Crich Tramway Village Running Line
End of Laid Track
End of Running Line
public footpath crossing
Glory Mine Stub
Glory Mine Terminus
End of Single Line Working
Token Pole
Single Line Working
Token Pole
Start of Single Line Working
End of Single Line Working
Token Pole
Cabin Crossing
Token Pole
Start of Single Line Working
Victoria Park
Level Crossing to Bandstand
Bowes-Lyon Bridge
horse-tram track
interlaced section
Depot Yard Stub
Depot Yard Entrance
Depot Yard
Stephenson Place
Crich Town End Terminus

Approximate distance in kilometres from Town End.

After a sustained search across the country, in 1959 the society's attention was drawn to the then derelict limestone quarry at Crich in Derbyshire, from which members of the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society were recovering track from Stephenson's mineral railway for their pioneering preservation project in Wales. After a tour of the quarry, members of the society agreed to lease – and later purchase – part of the site and buildings. Over the years, by the efforts of the society members, a representative collection of tramcars was brought together and restored, tramway equipment was acquired, a working tramway was constructed and depots and workshops were built. Recognising that tramcars did not operate in limestone quarries, the society agreed in 1967 to create around the tramway the kind of streetscape through which the trams had run and thus the concept of the Crich Tramway Village was born. Members then turned their attention to collecting items of street furniture and even complete buildings, which were then adapted to house the Museum's collections of books, photographs and archives.


  • 1963 - First horse tram service[8]
  • 1964 - First electric tram service
  • 1968 - First Grand Transport Extravaganza held, in what was to become an annual event[9]
  • 1969 - Opening of purpose built workshops
  • 1975 - The Duke of Gloucester become Patron of the Society
  • 1978 - Opening of scenic tramway to Wakebridge by Secretary of State for Employment
  • 1982 - First phase of museum library opened
  • 1985 - Museum loans trams to Blackpool for Electric Tram Centenary
  • 1988 - Museum loans trams for Glasgow Garden Festival
  • 1990 - Museum loans trams for Gateshead Garden Festival
  • 1991 - Exhibition Hall inaugurated
  • 1992 - Bowes-Lyon Bridge opened by Minister of State for Transport
  • 1995 - The Secretary of State for National Heritage announces that the Museum has been included in the first 26 museums to be designated due to the outstanding nature of their collections
  • 1997 - First AccessTram for visitors with disabilities
  • 2002 - Opening of Workshop Viewing Gallery
  • 2003 - Library Reading Room and Archives Store opened by the Duke of Gloucester
  • 2004 - Woodland Walk and Sculpture Trail inaugurated by the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire
  • 2007 - Leeds 345 wins the Best Self-Propelled Vehicle in the Heritage Railway Association Carriage & Wagon Awards, after its three-year restoration and return to service in 2004
  • 2010 - Opening of new "Century of Trams" exhibition in main Exhibition Hall
  • 2011 - Opening of refurbished George Stephenson Workshop, which now contains an education suite on the ground floor and a brand new exhibition on the upper floor which connects over a bridge to the Workshop Gallery
  • 2014 - Passengers able to alight at Glory Mine for the first time

Tramcar fleet[edit]

East Berlin Tram during Red October Day 2007, one of the many themed events at Crich

The museum has over 60 tramcars from locations such as Berlin, Blackpool, Chesterfield, The Hague, Derby, Douglas, Dundee, Edinburgh, Gateshead, Glasgow, Grimsby, Halle, Howth, Johannesburg, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, London, New York, Newcastle, Oporto, Paisley, Prague, Sheffield, Southampton and Sydney. The majority of the trams at Crich are double-decker trams built between 1900 and 1930,[10] and several have open tops. There are a few trams in the collection that were built after the Second World War, and these give an idea of how the British tram industry might have developed if services had not declined.

Every operating day, the museum selects between two and four trams and operates them over its line to Glory Mine, via Wakebridge. In addition, there is a 1969 Berlin tram which has been converted into an "Access Tram", complete with wheelchair lift, which allows visitors with disabilities to travel the line.

  • Southampton 45 was the very first tramcar to be preserved by the Tramway Museum Society, purchased for just £10 in 1949, after the closing ceremony of the Southampton Corporation.[11][12]
  • The steam tram engine John Bull is rumoured to have fallen into the sea on its way from New South Wales to Manchester; it disappeared in Sydney; and re-surfaced in 1980.[13]
  • Sheffield Tram No. 510, entered service in 1950 and was withdrawn, still almost brand-new, when the city's tram system closed in 1960.[13]
  • When made redundant, Blackpool Tram No. 166 was commandeered by the BBC, along with its sister No. 165, as an outside broadcast unit. Many seats were removed, and cameras and recording gear were mounted, to allow the illuminations to be filmed - the already congested promenade could not take any more traffic, ruling out conventional outside broadcast units.[13]
  • Prague No. 180 was transported to Crich just ahead of the "Iron curtain" of communist occupation. It became a symbol of the plight of the country. It was restored by its original manufacturers, Tatra.[13]
  • The 1904 Chesterfield tramcar No.7 survived a depot fire which destroyed many other trams and was also used as a house after withdrawal. The museum found the tram and restored it.[13]

Southampton 45[edit]

Southampton 45 was built 1903 by Hurst Nelson as an open-top double-decker tram with a 3 windowed lower saloon. At some stage it was rebuilt with canopies and 4 saloon windows by the Southampton Corporation Tramways, however the exact date is unknown.[12]

This tram was the one that started the whole preservation movement, being bought by enthusiasts for just £10 in 1949[11](equivalent to £380 in 2021).[14] As the car needed to pass under the medieval Bargate Arch in Southampton, the tram's proportions were altered. It also has knifeboard seating on the top deck for this reason.[15]

Leeds 399[edit]

Leeds 399 was built at Leeds Kirkstall Works, and entered service in 1925.

Leeds 399 was the second passenger tram to arrive at Crich (being superseded only by Cardiff 131 a works car, and Leeds 345), however it faced a lengthy restoration, returning only to service in 1991.[13] It is fitted with a trolley pole, without a rope, meaning that it can use trolley reversers at the termini. It is currently in the operational pool, after undergoing remedial work to the exterior paintwork.[16]

Leeds 602[edit]

Leeds 602 is one of three experimental tramcars built for Leeds City Tramways, the others being Leeds 600, and Leeds 601. The tramcar is the only vehicle at Crich to use VAMBAC (Variable Automatic Multinotch Braking and Acceleration Control), and one of only four in the country - two of which are at Blackpool, and the other being at the East Anglia Transport Museum.

It entered service on 1 June 1953, and was built by bus manufacturer Charles H Roe, Leeds 602 was withdrawn at the last ever "close of play" in 1957. The design of 602 owes a lot to the Glasgow Cunarders and Coronations, because the General Manager of Leeds at the time was A. B. Findlay, who did at one stage produce drawings of a single-decker Cunarder. Findlay used these ideas to build two identical prototypes (601 and 602), and Leeds 602 was fitted with VAMBAC equipment under the Bow Collector. In addition, all its fittings are electrical, making it a very complicated tram.[17][18]

602's service life was spent working the Hunslet Route around Leeds - the blind for which can be seen in the picture - and it was here until the end of its working life, when it was acquired for preservation at the National Tramway Museum. Leeds 601 was also preserved, but was destroyed soon after in an arson attack.

Once at Crich it was used in service between 1967 and 1972, before its first workshop attention in 1973. It saw further use in 1974–5, and returned to the workshop in 1977. It was back in the fleet for the 1979–80 seasons, before having a third bout of workshop attention in 1986. Following this it had a longer operational life between 1987 and 1995, but it was finally withdrawn due to the discovery of a leaking roof. It was resurrected on a limited-use basis for the Tramathon in 2003,[19] and then it was withdrawn to have attention to its leaky roof. This was finally fixed, and a long-needed repaint was undertaken. It returned for the Tramathon and Enthusiast's Day in 2005, and was used for six days in 2006.[18] One of which was the enthusiast's day, which allowed the opportunity to ride both a bus and tram built by Charles H. Roe.[20] The tram has not been used since, and now stands on display in the Exhibition Hall.

Operation of the Tramway[edit]

Running line[edit]

The running line of the tramway is 1.37 kilometres (0.85 mi) long. The line starts from a stub terminus at Town End where outbound trams board, having first disembarked inbound passengers at Stephenson Place. From Town End the first 280 metres (920 ft) of line takes the form of a double track, laid in a setted street, flanked by the buildings of the recreated period village, and including the inbound-only Stephenson Place tram stop. The street scene is closed off by the Bowes-Lyon Bridge, which the line crosses under on interlaced track. Just before the bridge, a junction gives access to the depot and yard.

On the far side of the bridge the line returns to double track and calls at the Victoria Park tram stop, which serves both the recreated Victorian-era public park of the same name, and the main entrance to the site from the car park. The double track continues for another 240 metres (790 ft) before converging into single track that continues as far as the Wakebridge tram stop and passing loop, which is located 850 metres (2,790 ft) from Town End.

Beyond the passing loop, the track returns to single track as far as the Glory Mine tram stop and terminus, where there is a further passing loop and a headshunt, together with a siding.

Methods of current collection[edit]

The museum's overhead wire system has been built so that trams with any type of current collection can be used. The museum currently houses trams with trolley poles, bow collectors and pantographs.[21] The current is supplied at 600 volts DC.[22]

Other forms used to demonstrate how current can be collected:

  • Conductors set in steel troughs under the roadway, as used in Blackpool, and represented in Crich with Number 4.
  • The stud contact system, as demonstrated with a dummy stud between the rails in the yard. This is the only known example of this form remaining, and is from Wolverhampton.

In the media[edit]

The museum features as one of the key locations in the 2012 film Sightseers.

In the opening of Women in Love.

It also features heavily in the John Shuttleworth song "Dandelion and Burdock".

The museum possesses the only remaining Mk2 police box, which formed the basis for the design of the TARDIS from Doctor Who.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Blog". Crich Tramway Village. Retrieved 5 June 2023.
  2. ^ "Village Scene". Crich Tramway Village. Retrieved 5 June 2023.
  3. ^ "Ride the Trams". Crich Tramway Village. Retrieved 5 June 2023.
  4. ^ "The Tramway Museum Society". Charity Commission. Archived from the original on 10 August 2019. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
  5. ^ "Make a Donation". Crich Tramway Village. Retrieved 5 June 2023.
  6. ^ a b "Crich Heritage Report". Amber Valley Borough Council. pp. 24–25. Archived from the original on 11 August 2019. Retrieved 11 August 2019.
  7. ^ "George Stephenson". Spartacus Educational Publishers Ltd. Archived from the original on 17 August 2016. Retrieved 4 July 2016.
  8. ^ "Derbyshire tram museum at Crich celebrates 50 years". BBC News. 8 July 2013. Archived from the original on 10 August 2019. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
  9. ^ Brooks, Donald (August 2019). "Quarry Railway with a Difference". Narrow Gauge World. Warners Group Publications Plc. pp. 23–25.
  10. ^ "Crich Tramway Village". British Trams Online.
  11. ^ a b "Official Fleetlist". Archived from the original on 1 April 2009.
  12. ^ a b "Southampton 45 Profile". Archived from the original on 12 October 2008. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
  13. ^ a b c d e f Crich Tramway Village Guidebook, 2003-2008 Edition. National Tramway Museum. 2003–2008.
  14. ^ UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017). "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 11 June 2022.
  15. ^ Crich Tramway Village Guidebook, 2003-2008 Edition. National Tramway Museum. 2003–2008.
  16. ^ Bird, Peter; Shawcross, John (April 2008). "The Journal of the Tramway Museum Society". The Tramway Museum Society. p. 60.
  17. ^ "British Trams Online 602 Profile". Archived from the original on 10 February 2012.
  18. ^ a b "TrainSpottingWorld 602 Profile".
  19. ^ "Tramathon 2003".
  20. ^ "Enthusiast's Day 2006 Report".
  21. ^ "Methods of Current Collection". Archived from the original on 29 April 2007.
  22. ^ David Tudor. The tram driver. p. 10.

External links[edit]

53°05′21″N 1°29′11″W / 53.08930°N 1.48632°W / 53.08930; -1.48632