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Tramway Treasury

Fifty years ago, virtually every tramway in Britain had been ripped up. Barry McLoughlin visits a world-leading museum that is keeping tramway heritage alive

Sitting on the top deck of a gently-swaying tramcar, trundling along a cobbled street next to a grand, balustraded red-brick pub, you could be travelling through an industrial town in the Fifties. This, however, is the 21st century – and at the foot of a sheer rock face in a former quarry on the edge of the Peak District.

Crich Tramway Village not only celebrates this most sedate and civilised form of transport; it also provides an evocative microcosm of urban life in the first half of the 20th century.

A trip on a vintage tram climbing to the Glory Mine terminus about a mile away takes you on a journey through Britain’s industrial and social heritage… in the heart of Derbyshire’s glorious Derwent Valley.

The village is the home of the National Tramway Museum – an Accredited Museum with an internationally acclaimed vintage tram fleet, as well as vast collections of photographs and archive materials.

Members of the Tramway Museum Society have built the entire museum – one of the finest of its kind in the world – from scratch by converting the derelict quarry. An independent educational charity, the society was founded 61 years ago to collect preserve and demonstrate Britain’s tramway heritage.

Despite being only six miles from Matlock and eight from the M1, it’s not the most accessible of national museums, but well worth the effort – and it’s an effort that more than 70,000 people make every year. From the main Town End terminus, the tram travels to stops at the bandstand and Victoria Park, Wakebridge for the three-acre Woodland Walk, Sculpture Trail and lead mines display, and finally Glory Mine with a walk to the Crich Memorial Stand

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