The National Tramway Museum in Crich Tramway Village in Derbyshire
Crich Tramway Village and the National Tramway Museum
The National Tramway Museum is in Crich Tramway Village, which is located in the small town of Crich in Derbyshire in the UK. The Museum and Village celebrate the history of the tram, with restored trams regularly running on track through the village. Trams were once an integral part of the public transport infrastructure of many cities, but with the rise of the internal combustion engine, and corresponding increase in buses and private cars, the tramways declined and were removed. Recently, though, as urban congestion has risen, cities have started building tramways again.
In 2014 the museum was celebrating 50 years since the first electric tram ran there, in 1964, although the origins of the museum date back to 1948, when the first tram was purchased for £10 after a farewell tour of Southampton Tramways. Since that date, the concept has grown, and the derelict limestone quarry in Crich was leased, and later purchased, as a home for the museum in 1959. In 1967 the decision was made to construct a streetscape in which the trams would run.
Once payment has been made to enter Crich Tramway Village, for full price tickets this entitles the purchaser to visit it for an entire year. Those who have pre-1973 cars can get free admission if the car is parked on the Village street for at least 3 hours.
How to Find Crich Tramway Village
The village is on the site of Cliff Quarry, a limestone quarry, in Derbyshire. It follows part of the route of a mineral railway built by railway pioneer George Stephenson, which ran to Ambergate. At the start of the industrial period, limestone was in great demand, and this small railway made moving it to where it was needed in Ambergate much more efficient.
The majority of the buildings have been recovered from all over the country, dismantled, and then reassembled on site. This includes the overhead wires, rails, street furniture (including a TARDIS!) and signs, which have all been used to build a streetscape in which to operate the trams. Some buildings have been purpose built, or adapted from previous uses.
As well as the trams and the streetscape, there is also the Woodland Walk and Sculpture Trail. This has views across the Derwent countryside and there are various sculptures along the path.
A Tram Pulling Out Of Town End
Town End is where the majority of the buildings are located, with shops, eating places, a library and exhibitions as well as the tram depot and workshop.
One of the most imposing structures is the Georgian facade of the old Derby Assembly Rooms, which was rebuilt at Crich and contains exhibitions. Adjoining it are the Yorkshire Penny Bank and the Burnley Tramway Company offices, which now host the souvenir shop Scothern & Williamson and the John Price Memorial Library and Archives of the National Tramway Museum.
Continuing on this side of the tracks, one building remained on the site when the museum moved into it, which was a 19th century smithy and wagon works built by George Stephenson to service his railway. This building, the Stephenson Workshop, was refurbished with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and opened in 2011. It now contains a learning centre and the Stephenson Discovery Centre, which provides details on trams and their history in an environment aimed at children.
The Workshop Gallery allows visitors to watch as trams are restored on site, and the adjoining Tram Depot houses some of the museum's fleet of trams. These ones are those most commonly used for tram rides at the site.
The Great Exhibition Hall is a purpose-built building and contains the Tracks in Time Exhibition, which has as exhibits trams from different decades, starting with the earliest, horse drawn trams of the 1870s, continuing through to the last trams of the 1960s. Also in this building is the Discovery Depot, a children's indoor play area.
Going back to Town End on the other side are Bluebells Ice Cream Parlour, which used to be Fredericks until recently, Barnett's Sweet Shop and The Eagle Press, a printer's. Eating places here are Rita's Tea Rooms and the Red Lion, an English pub rebuilt on the site, which also houses the Poulson Room Restaurant.
Victoria Park is a request stop in both directions on the tram line. Here, there are Victoria Bandstand, access to the Village from the car park, a picnic area, as well as the Woodland Walk and Sculpture Trail, which leads to Wakebridge by foot. The Bowes-Lyon Bridge crosses the tram line just down from here
A Tram at Victoria Park
At the Wakebridge stop is the Peak Mines Display, which is run by the Peak District Mining Association and has equipment from lead mines in Derbyshire.
A Tram Arriving at Wakebridge
The Glory Mine stop is a new one at the far end of the line from Town End. Visitors can now dismount and follow a path to the Sherwood Foresters Memorial, which overlooks the village. From the top of the memorial, it is possible to see the entire museum below.
The museum has a range of trams, many of which have been restored, a process which typically costs several hundred thousand pounds, with some still undergoing restoration. The trams are predominately British in origin, but some are from other countries. Not all are on site, as they are loaned out to other places across the country.
Some of the trams can be ridden when the museum is open, whilst others are displayed in the Tracks in Time exhibition in the Great Exhibition Hall. Once the Village is entered, you can have unlimited rides on the trams. On entering, you are given an old British penny when you enter, which is initially given to a conductor on a tram, who will then give out a ticket in the manner in which they sued to be dispensed using a machine. The ticket is then used on future tram rides on that day.
The trams go from the Town End terminus to the Glory Mine stop and back again, with a couple of request stops along the journey. Once a tram has arrived at the Town End Terminus, it has to be dismounted from. Only one of the trams, the 1969 Berlin tram, has disabled access, as the others are unsuitable for wheelchairs or for pushchairs. The trams are museum pieces and often pre-date the concept of accessible access by many decades. The accessible tram is not in constant use, but will usually do one or two journeys a day when the trams are running.
Riding on a Tram
Crich Memorial Stand
This is not on the site of Crich Tramway Village itself, but the Sherwood Foresters Memorial tower can be seen from most parts of the village, where not obstructed, and the village itself can be seen from the top of the tower. The Stand is a War Memorial which was constructed to honour the members of the Sherwood Foresters Regiment who died during the First World War, and then later those who died in the Second. The stand has parking, picnic benches, the tower, a beacon and a coffee shop, and a public footpath ascends from the Village's new Glory Mine stop to the Stand.
Watching a Tram from the Sherwood Foresters Memorial
A Different Day Out
For those who are too young to remember when these trams were a part of daily life in the UK, prior to their resurrection in recent years, a trip to Crich Tramway Village provides a glimpse as to what they would have been like in their prior glory days. For those who do remember trams from when they were younger, the Village provides a nostalgic glimpse of days gone by. If you have a dog, they are welcome on site, and on the trams, too, at no extra charge.
An extra special day for some visitors would be to book the Ultimate Tram Driving Experience, which is an entire day at the Village, including refreshments, as well as being taught how to drive a tram yourself, with the chance to do so.