Crich 1978 - 1979

Illustrated history of the National Tramway Museum at Crich
Part 3  1978 to 1979 

Spring of 1978 and Blackpool 166 on a test run or perhaps a joy ride to Glory Mine before the extension of the line was complete.

1978 witnessed fantastic progress at the Museum with the opening of the new line from Wakebridge to Glory Mine, a new reliable power supply and ambitious tramcar restoration projects.

Improvements were made to the then bookshop during the winter of 1977-78. The entrance was moved from the side of the building to face the track. A wooden canopy and display windows and a weathervane from Bridge Road Tramway Sheds in Stockton on Tees were added. Although now used as a sweet shop the building has not been substantially altered since 1978. Over a number of years, the retaining wall at the back of the stone workshop had bulged and finally collapsed. A new wall was built by volunteers and was completed in 1978. The wooden steps up to the Traffic Office were replaced at the same time.

247. Kyle Hulme and Richard Robson building the new retaining wall at the back of the stone workshop.

248. The new concrete steps up to the Traffic Office. What became of the former Leeds Cattle Market plaque seen on the left?  It had been attached to the Assembly Rooms support wall in April 1976.
A major project in preparation for the Edwardian Street was to replace the southbound track between the staff post and the bookshop during the winter of 1977-78. Concrete sleepers replaced wooden ones and ex-Manchester rail was welded into 60 foot lengths. The former forge, now the bookshop but then used for stores, was renovated and made safe. On the opposite side of the track new steps and new retaining walls were built at the entrance to the cafe. These are still in use. New steps were also laid for the then main entrance. These have long since disappeared under the Red Lion. Most of this work was carried out by Job Creation staff as bad weather had delayed work on the track extension to Glory Mine. Later in the year a start was made on the wall and railings between the main line and the depot yard.

249. A winter view of the main line late in 1977. The then entrance path can be seen on the right and the wash bay on the left.

250. Sleepers and ballast for the track reconstruction. The bookshop is still in its original condition with the entrance on the side of the building and the rickety old steps to the cafe can be seen in the background.

251. Spring 1978 with the new track in use. The first part of the depot yard wall and railings can also be seen on the left.
In the workshop volunteers restarted work on Leeds 180 after an interval of 12 months. At the north end, the platform was removed and replaced, the staircase dismantled and extensive rot was found in the end structure of the upper saloon. The interior varnish was stripped and the ceilings repainted. Two new steel dash panels were fitted before work was suspended. With 1282 nearly complete the Job Creation staff concentrated on Paisley 68 which was stripped to a bare framework and new steel panels were fitted to the under frame. New staircases were fabricated. Most of the top deck was renewed with new railings and decency panels and a complete set of wooden seats. The coat of arms on the lower deck side was hand painted by a job creation staff member. The cost of materials for 68 was in excess of £5,000. Both 68 and 1282 entered service on 21st October although 1282 had been used on special occasions beforehand. Southampton 45’s paintwork was completed during the winter and it re-entered service on Easter Monday. Its return to service was formally commemorated on 29th August when guests from Southampton were entertained.

252. Glasgow 1282 in the spring of 1978 with Manchester 765 in the background.

253. A partially complete Paisley 68 in the summer of 1978. Progress on the depot yard wall and railings can be seen in the background.

254. Paisley 68 and Southampton 45 at Glory Mine on 15th October 1978.
Repainting Leeds 301 into its former red London Transport livery was another Job Creation project which was completed in March. Glasgow 812 entered the workshop in the spring. The top deck was removed from the bottom deck which in turn was lifted from the truck. All the windows were removed and the lower saloon body was supported on scaffolding poles to enable the hard wood under frame to be lowered from the body and removed. A brand new under frame was made and the old one was displayed in the Assembly Rooms. New body side panels were fitted, the roof re-canvassed and new staircases were made. Other wooden components were replaced as necessary. On 19th December 812 was reassembled using a hired crane and work continued until early 1979 when it was suspended.
255. London Transport number 1 following its repaint.

256. The bottom deck of Glasgow 812 supported on scaffolding with the old under frame lowered for removal.

257. An end view of 812’s bottom deck on the right with Leeds 180, the steam tram and Vienna 4225 on the left.

258. In the autumn of 1978, 812 is coming back together with the top deck and 1297 in the background. On the left 4225 is being repainted as New York 674 and Prague 180 is in the background.

Work continued on the interior of MET 331. Blackpool 166 was withdrawn following accident damage. Following an electrical fault, Prague 180 had both its canopy switches replaced with British Metropolitan Vickers type. Some of the top deck seats on Sheffield 510 were recovered and repairs were carried out on the roof to prevent leaks. Blackpool 166, Johannesburg 60 and Southampton 45 suffered flashovers after the new substation opened and they all had their controllers modified.

At the beginning of 1978 all the components of the steam tram engine had been returned from storage for re-assembly. Job Creation staff concentrated on the plate work with volunteers on tackling complex jobs such as setting up the timing. During the summer the boiler had been hydraulically tested and the engine was tested in steam on three occasions late in 1978.

259. Steam tram trials – looking south at the wash bay with the stone workshop in the background.

260. Steam tram trials – looking north at the wash bay with the workshop and depot fan in the background.

261. Steam tram trials – passing through Wakebridge.
Progress on the construction of the track extension to Glory Mine was hampered by bad weather and work was temporarily abandoned for three months. One part of the project that made good progress was the substation which was structurally complete by the end of February. However the weather delayed the installation of the 11kv supply by the East Midlands Electricity Board until April. The EMEB dismantled the 11kv overhead cables immediately north of Wakebridge and replaced them with a cable underneath the track and installed their high voltage switch gear in the north end of the substation. The Job Creation electricians installed the rest of the cabling and equipment. Basically a high voltage ac cable from the substation to the ex-Walsall transformer rectifiers which had been installed at the top end of the bank above the sub and a 600 volt dc cable back to the switchgear in the south end. From this a 600 volt dc cable leads to a section box which in turn is connected to the overhead line. All of this equipment is still in use.
262. Wakebridge in the spring of 1978. The red roof of the newly completed substation can be seen on the left. On the right is the shanty town used by the construction workers and the Octagon is nearing completion. Three of the four trams (60, 49 and 5) were newly restored under the Job Creation project.

263. A recent view of the ex-Walsall transformer rectifier units.

264.  A sorry-looking Blackpool 167 and the remains of ‘Skytrain’. This was the body of a lorry mounted on former Blackpool bogies and towed by the diesel engine GMJ. It was used to carry ballast from the quarry at Cabin to wherever it was needed on the new line.
When track work recommenced the site of a massive hole dug by mineral prospectors had given subsidence problems. It was noted that this part of the line would require regular packing until settlement was complete. It is now known as Smith’s Hole and still gives problems. At Glory Mine concrete bases had been laid for the top and bottom sets of points but the siding points and the rest of the track was laid on a combination of wooden and concrete sleepers. All of the traction poles were raked backwards in the traditional manner and finials and ornament scroll work were added.
265. A test run to Glory Mine in the spring of 1978 most likely on a Wednesday evening. Only one overhead wire has been strung at this time. Bob Hall is at the controls with Richard Robson, A N Other, Kyle Hulme, John Shawcross, Geoff Quarmby and Mike Davis.

266. Glory Mine later in the summer with Manchester 765 on the left and the steam tram in the distance. Although the line was in use there was still a lot of work to do.
The extension to Glory Mine was opened twice! On Friday 7th July the Right Honourable Albert Booth MP, Secretary of State for Employment, formally opened the line. He drove Southampton 45 from Town End to the depot fan for a buffet lunch and travelled with the guests to Wakebridge on Glasgow 1282. At Wakebrige he turned on the new power supply before cutting a ribbon and travelling to Glory Mine on 1282. The guests were then given a demonstration of rail bending before Mr Booth drove Johannesburg 60 back down the line. Sadly Mr Booth did not go on to be Prime Minister, but lost his seat in the 1979 general election. The second opening ceremony for TMS members was on Saturday evening when Merlyn Bacon driving Southampton 45 led a procession of trams from Town End to Glory Mine, calling at Wakebridge to cut a second ribbon. Sheffield 510 was the first service tram to Glory Mine on Sunday 9th July.

267. Mr Booth was persuaded to wear a tram driver’s hat by press photographers.

268. Southampton 45 arriving on the depot fan for a buffet lunch which was served in Depot III. Mr Booth is still at the controls supervised by Denis (motorman) Higgins.

269. The new Wakebridge substation with gleaming red roof tiles.

270. The Rt. Hon. Albert Booth MP, Secretary of State for Employment, cutting the ribbon at Wakebridge for the first time on Friday 7th July.

271. The fact that the guests were allowed to alight at an incomplete Glory Mine without hard hats and yellow clothes shows the much more relaxed attitude towards ‘health & safety’ thirty years ago.

272. Southampton 45 arriving at Wakebridge on 8th July.

273. Merlyn Bacon, Vice-President of the Tramway Museum Society, cutting the ribbon for the second time on Saturday 8th July.

274. Some of the members on 45 when it arrived at Glory Mine.

275. Another early view of Glory Mine terminus in use. Southampton 45, Manchester 765 and the steam tram.
After the extension opened, work continued at Wakebridge where the shanty town was removed, the Bradford shelter was moved to its present position and Glasgow W21 was placed on a former Glasgow crossing. This right angle track crossing came from the junction of Argyle Street and Jamaica and Union Streets in Glasgow. It had been laid as recently as 1957 and had been purchased by TMS member Stanley Swift for £8.00. The visitor circulating area was covered with asphalt. At Glory Mine the track was filled to rail head level with limestone chippings (see pictures 254 and 275).

Mrs Gladys Poplar, a retired school teacher, was the tenant of the cottage adjacent to the Museum until her death in May 1978. For nearly 20 years she had been a good friend to the Tramway Museum Society and its members, particularly in the pioneering days when a cup of tea and a warm fire was very much appreciated. Latterly she had been both a tenant and an honorary member of the Society. After her death he cottage was renamed Poplar House in her memory. Another sad death in June was that of John Appleby at the young age of 48. John hailed from Bristol and was actively involved in the restoration of Cheltenham 21 and had served on the Board for two years from 1966.
1978 was a record year for visitors to the Museum. Fourteen trams had been used at the Extravaganza. Total admissions were 208,110 compared with 148,326 in 1977 and far more than in recent years. The maximum passengers on a Sunday were 3,155 on 13th August and on a weekday 2,213 on Wednesday, 16th August. On Easter Monday 6,592 passengers were carried and on August Bank Holiday Monday 7,366. Admission prices for 1979 were set at 80p adults and 40p children.

Further grants of £260,000 were approved by the Manpower Services Commission for 1979 and 1980 as part of STEP (Special Temporary Employment Programme). Part of the money was for workshop projects and the remainder for outdoor work.

17 passenger trams were used in 1978. Blackpool 2, 40, 49, 166, Gateshead 5, Glasgow 22, 1282, 1297, Johannesburg 60, Manchester 765, Paisley 68, Prague 180, Sheffield 189, 264, 510, Southampton 45 and Vienna 4225.