I’ve been meaning to visit Crich Tramway museum for about twenty years now, but finally got around to it last month. Patience. Virtue. Etc. Crich is a small village at the top of a very steep hill, with spectacular views of Derbyshire. You know you’re getting closer because of the looming memorial tower dedicated to the Sherwood Foresters regiment who were decimated during WWI.
The Tramway Museum is situated inside a derelict limestone quarry which has been converted to create an authentic 20th century streetscape that includes a pub selling its own Tramway mild, a café offering cream teas in proper china cups, a Penfold pillar box, a sweet shop full of nostalgic goodies, a police box (aka Doctor Who), an old forge converted into a shop, and a museum and tram depot. You’ll also find street entertainers playing wind-up instruments, and staff (and visitors) dressed up when the museum has a themed weekend to tie in with a particular decade of history.
A tramline runs through the street, enabling the museum to rotate its 60 or so trams on a daily basis, one of which is a horse drawn tram for those who really want to experience a slower pace of life. To access the trams you’re given an old penny when you enter the site, to get you in the spirit of things. This is presented to the conductor who issues an old style ticket that can be used for as many rides as you like. But choose your tram carefully. These are often hijacked by re-enactors, such as a Suffragette Rally who espoused their political views at anyone within proximity.
During my visit the theme was Edwardian Britain. Men were kitted out in striped jackets and straw boater hats while the women wore decorative flowing dresses that accentuated sinuous curves. For those who wanted to sit and be entertained there was a brass band at the band stand. For those who fancied a bit of audience participation, there was a tent reciting classics from the Music Hall followed by Oscar Wilde in conversation, courtesy of Don’t Go Into the Cellar! Theatre Company. And if music isn’t your thing, there were various talks put on that addressed issues relevant to Edwardian Britain as well as a gorgeous park with walks out into the surrounding countryside.
The entrance fee is £16.50 for adults and £6.50 for a child, with various discounts such as a family pack (2 adults, 3 children £39.50). This might seem a bit steep at first, but its real value for money as you’ll spend the entire day here. To ensure you don’t miss anything you’re issued with a tick list when you buy your ticket so that you experience everything.
My reason for visiting was my reason for visiting most places, DH Lawrence. The opening to Women in Love was filmed here and there are plans to put on a production of Lawrence’s short story Tickets Please! - Which is basically On the Buses but on trams. I also wanted to see the Arms to Armistice exhibition which explores how WWI affected the tramways of Britain.
In 1914 the Nottingham Corporation Tramways had a fleet of 155. This extended to 200 by 1926 with new routes to Beeston, Chilwell and Hucknall helping to join up the city (déjà vu anyone?). During the 1920s Nottingham trams were struggling to meet the growing demands for public transport, thereby ushering in the age of the motor buses. By 1929, the year the Goose Fair was exiled to the Forest Rec and the Council House was completed, Nottingham began to convert the existing tramway routes to a trolleybus operation. You’ll have to visit if you want to know more.
When I mentioned we were going to Crich my GF sighed. She mocked me in the car journey over, suggesting I was boring. *Tut* But once inside, I couldn’t keep her off the trams. In fact, we had so much fun we nearly got locked in the carpark because we were the last to leave.