Yesterday we headed off to the National Tramway Museum, situated at Crich (aka Crich Tramway Village). Situated in Derbyshire, it was not too far away, but not really reachable by train from where I was. The trams in Johannesburg were removed from service in August 1961 so I did not grow up with them, and the only experience I have had with trams has been in Hong Kong and Kimberley. This was to be a new experience.
The weather was still gloomy and we had an intermittent drizzle for most of the afternoon and it did not make for good photography. The object on the hill in the photograph above is the Sherwood Forresters Memorial, and sadly we did not get to that one, but maybe another day? There were a number of trams running on that day, the track is quite a long one and has a number of passing loops and points in it. A token is used where trams have to use the single line. At any given time there are probably 3 trams somewhere moving in the system. On the day we were there the following were seen in action:
The Red Lion Pub was particularly impressive, as was this small building which may be associated with the trams, possibly a ticket office or a controller?
There is also a quirky horse trough,
a period urinal,
The Johannesburg vehicle is housed in the tramshed, and I missed seeing her originally. But, given the nature of the space some trams you can only get poor images of. That was equally true at James Hall Museum of Transport where there are other Johannesburg trams on display.
The vehicle is number 60 from 1905. And I believe she is still in a running condition. The one machine that really caught my eye was the steeple cab locomotive, I have been wanting to see one of these for a long time, and this green example just made my day.
Technically she is not a tram, but a works vehicle, and there are quite a few odd overhead line maintenance vehicles housed in the shed. The workshop was not open for visitors, but there is a viewing gallery where you can get a glimpse of the work performed by the volunteers to keep these machines running.
Like so many museums and heritage sites, the tramway is staffed by volunteers who keep the wheels turning and the public returning. It is a thankless task, but without them the trams and trains and planes will stop forever. I traveled on two of the trams and they were comfortable rides too, not as bad as the bone jarring Brill tram I had been on in Kimberley. Tram technology kept apace with the times, but at the end of the day the diesel bus was the winner. That is not to say that trams have died off completely, they are still used in a number of places, although they are more like “light rail” nowadays. One of the real gems at the village is the Bowes-Lyon Bridge. It is a very pretty structure, and while it does look old is surprisingly not that old. It is a good place to do some overhead photography from, but by the time I got to it the day was winding down, and my camera had died on me too.
I thoroughly enjoyed the outing, and of course any opportunity to dabble in this sort of history really has me standing right up front in the queue. The sad part is that when many cities decided to drop trams in favour of buses, large fleets were broken up, or ended up rotting away in some backwater. Occasionally the backwaters would yield a gem and these would be lovingly restored. Many of them are here at the Tramway Museum.
There are just so many images that I can use here, but these are really a small selection.
And a great day was had by all.
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