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National Tramway Museum (Crich, Matlock)

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3 Reviews

Crich, Matlock, Derbyshire DE4 5DP. Tel: +44 (0)1773 852 565
Fax: +44 (0)1773 852 326.

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      13.08.2009 19:47
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      Back to the Future, a history lesson and fun rolled into one great day out!

      Crich Tramway Museum is currently listed on the Walker's crisps "Gary's Great Trips" as a 2 for 1 offer, for I think it was 10points per voucher. For those not in the know, the above website is where you bank codes from Walkers crisp packets and then use the points gained to download a voucher to visit places of interest for free or reduced prices, such as 2 for 1, kids go free, etc.

      As I live in Derbyshire, I used the website to search for places in my home county. This search only brought back 4 matches - one of which I want to discuss now. It may be on the site that there are other Derbyshire places of interest but they do not contain Derbyshire in their entry details.

      I saw on a leaflet my friend had got that the price for 2009 was £10.80 per person or £12.50 on Premier Events days. The weekend coming up happened to be a Premier Event one - 1940's weekend (Aug 8/9). Whilst this sounded like something my friends and I would be interested in seeing, I didn't expect to be able to use these vouchers on a Premier Event day.

      Imagine my surprise when I checked the above website and you could! There were no restrictions on use and it was available for use up until 1 November. Naturally I printed the vouchers off for my friend and myself. (You can set up an account for each person who wants one or if they don't have an account nominate them to use some of your points). Note the vouchers have the name of person who requested them or the nominee and you may be asked for ID at the place you visit. I was not asked for ID at Crich but my friend was! Her partner queried why they wanted ID and they stated that he could have picked up a voucher dropped by someone else, which he accepted.

      Any way back to the Tramway museum at Crich. So as it was a 1940's weekend there were plenty of visitors dressed up in attire from this era, and the staff issued us all with blue ID cards and a ration book per couple. Even the children were given blue ID cards, which you could fill in and get stamped at the Home Guard area of Town End village!

      The main attraction here of course is the trams, but on the day we visited there were vintage cars, tanks, jeeps, plane engines, ARP and Home Guard huts as well.

      We walked down the hill under the Bowes-Lyon bridge and into the tram depot first. If you want to catch a tram, you need to find the nearest tram stop and keep hold of your Old Penny or Half Penny as you need to give it to the conductor on your first ride. He (or she) will then issue you with an all day ticket (white on the day we went) which you then have to show on subsequent rides. Check the stop is actually a proper stop as some are just there to allow people to disembark and not there to use for embarking purposes, i.e you can get off there but not on! We made this mistake at least once.

      Be aware if you have children in push chairs that there is very little room for them and you may have to leave it at the stop you get on at, which we did the first time as we intended to do the full 20 minute round trip. This is ambiguous as the trip is not a circuitous route but actually a straight line up and down a steep incline. You can get off at a number of stops en route (but if you have children and left the buggy behind this may not be much of an option). You can take the buggies on board but they need to be folded up and are put at the front or back of the tram. You then need to retrieve it when getting off. There is an orange access tram for those with disabilities which was running the day we went but we weren't sure if those with children could use it for transporting buggies and it wasn't available at the times we needed it. I'd have asked though!!

      Anyway, there are some open top trams, some with one storey and some with 2 storeys, and of course we had to go upstairs in the open top part to please the three lads we'd got with us (2 adults and a 2 year old). Please be aware that these tend to have spiral staircases and metal railings so be careful when going up and down them. I struggled at times as I had to carry some of the picnic food bags we'd taken off the buggy as well as my handbag. You are able to go back to your vehicles whilst here (provided you show your entrance ticket on return) but we were parked in an over spill field some distance from the entrance so had decided to carry our stuff into the museum.

      At one end the tram stops and waits until another one arrives to pass the point device needed to go back down. Whilst you are waiting the conductor (or driver) gives a talk about the museum, its history, how much it costs to run a tram or restore one, and what attractions you can see on the day.

      The first time this happened the men were too busy chattering my friend Michelle and I barely heard this informative chat and even telling them to shut up didn't work. However, on the next tram ride we were aware and told them in advance they might want to hear some of what he'd got to say. As it happened the lads got quite a lot out of this and even asked questions. We saw the troll on the Woodland Walk and some of his friends, too.

      At Town End there is a pub called the Red Lion (which was saved from demolition by being transported to the area and being rebuilt brick by brick), a cafe/tearooms, sweet shop, gift shop and ice cream parlour. Some of these according to the literature provided are seasonal so may not be open all year.

      There are toilets in the pub and some more behind the sweet shop. If you have babies or children in nappies or are disabled then the only suitable facilities I found were in the pub. The toilets behind the sweet shop stated that you couldn't use the bin for nappies and had no changing area. My
      friend changed her 2 year old boy in an ordinary toilet stood up, as we didn't know where the baby changing facilities were. She then saw she could not throw the nappy away there and had to find the right place to dispose of it.

      For a place of this size, only one disabled toilet or baby changing area, is not really enough. There are toilets near the entrance and I do not know if one of them is a disabled one, but the ordinary ones had a step to get into them so wouldn't have been suitable for wheelchair users.

      There are lots of different buildings to go into at this location so even if it was a wet day there would be something to do, but you sometimes have to walk a bit to get to them or to the next one. We lost the men for what seemed like ages in some of these, particularly if there were models of boats, trams or other vehicles! My friend and I watched a video twice whilst waiting for the men to come round one place and in the end as her son was getting rather loud I went and told them we'd wait outside for them, and have something to eat.

      You had to time things right on this day out - we were lucky enough to see the cars and men parade through the streets and see them salute Winston Churchill but missed the unexploded bomb scenario, music displays and some other interesting items. We were provided with a newspaper on arrival and one side had times of items of interest, which we tried to use to decide what to do next.

      We also walked down part of the Woodland walk after riding on the tram to the mini mining display area. Near the mining display on the opposite side of the tracks was a display of birds of prey (not sure if this was only there on the 1940's weekend or not) and you could pay extra to hold them. We had a snack at the coffee shop here, but were disappointed that it only sold drinks and Penguin bars or crisps. It would have been more use to us, if it had also got sandwiches or other more substantial snacks.

      We stayed from 12 noon until 6.15pm on this day and could have stayed longer but we were getting hungry! We'd only taken one meal with us. The lads had tried going into the cafe at about 1pm and it was so packed they gave up. The pub was very busy too. Near the end of the day, we went on the kids playground area and in the indoor kids play area, which was suitable for 0-10 years apparently. With less people around, we were able to get better views and get into places that previously had been too busy before.

      This was a wonderful day out and we were told that the trams were operational until 9pm but when we left about 6pm the entrance area had shut, so only those who'd already paid could enjoy this. We do not know what time they shut it but I estimate it would be about 4.30 or 5pm as we'd used the toilets near there earlier and it was still open then.

      I would heartily recommend this location to anyone!

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        10.01.2009 21:01
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        A great day out

        Despite living only about an hours drive from Crich, and being interested in things like Trams, my last visit to Crich was probably about 10 years ago, and the visit before that I was so young I can hardly remember it. After all these years, I finally went back over the Bank Holiday for another visit.

        The museum itself houses the largest collection of trams in the country, ranging from 19th century horse trams to some fairly modern ones, from Britain, Europe and the US. It is on a large site in Derbyshire, which contains a period street scene, workshops and exibitions, and about a mile of track out into the hills above the site. There is also a woodland walk and sculpture trail, and a small mining exibition at the halfway point.

        On arrival visitors are given an old penny, which they use to buy a ticket on their first tram ride. These tickets are valid all day for as many rides as you want. The number of trams in service varies, on the two days I visited, a event over the August Bank Holiday, about 6 trams were in service. This was a little bit of a downside, because both afternoons the crowds built up to the point where people were queing for fairly long periods to get a ride. The weather was nice, so the open toppers and the "toast-racks (open sided single deckers)" were most popular. A full round trip takes around half an hour, 2 intermediate stops. The first is for the car park, the next being at the passing loop half way. After that, the trams travel up a steep gradient along the side of a valley, giving spectacular views, to the terminus at the top. It is possible to alight at the halfway point, where the mining display is situated, and from there it is possible to walk back to the main site. You cannot alight at the terminus though, due to the many old mine workings in the area, some of which have been found and made safe, but many which have not. Whilst waiting to return though, passengers have the unusual experiance of moving the seat backs so they can face the correct way for the return, aswell as on some trams watching the conductor turning the trolley pole. There will often be a small wait at the loop just after the terminus for the next tram to clear the single line section, and during this time many drivers will give a small talk about the museum and the tram.

        The trams are restored to very high standards, although retain a working feel to them, they are not static museum pieces afterall. Comfort levels vary widely, from open top or open sides trams with wooden seats, to fully enclosed ones with comfortable upholstory, which rival (or even better) the modern trams. The long, steep track gives the a chance to show what they can do, and some of them really do move. The bogie trams ride nice and smooth, but the 4 wheel ones can be a little rough.

        Aswell as the tram rides, you can also explore the period street. This includes a traditional pub, and a traditional sweet shop, aswell as a cafe and a gift shop. Most of the buildings on site have been saved from various parts of the country. You can also look in the depot where the trams that are not in service are stored, and also the workshops where trams are restored. There is also a large exibition building which shows the history of trams, details of different towns and cities tram systems, and you can learn about things like how power is supplied, and see all sorts of artifacts from bits of track and overhead to tickets and uniforms, aswell as more trams that are restored but not in use, including some which are of different gauge so unusable. The exibitions are such that they are of interest to anyone from the likes of me who knows a lot about trams (having conducted and driven and restored them at another museum) to those with little or no knowledge. For children, there are a couple of play areas.

        The staff are professional but very friendly, and oviously passionate about what they do. Nearly all are volenteers, and there is a fair range of ages, and both sexes were represented aswell. On my visit, we did have some problems, with a tram breaking down, then ironically the one put into service to replace it breaking down aswell. This was delt with fairly well, and a full service was resumed as soon as possible. Staff tried there best to keep the visitors informed of what was going on, although perhaps communication was not best. Then again, I know myself what these situations can be like, having been involved with many myself.

        Entry (2008) is £10 for adults, £5 for children, £9 sceniors and £28 for families. This not only includes access to the site and unlimited tram rides, but also free return admission for 12 months. Opening is daily 9th - 24th February (half term), and weekends in March, from 10:30 to 16:00, and daily 21st March - 2nd November from 10:00 to 17:30. Various events are held throughout the year, including Enthusiasts days, Tramathon (with all working trams running), 1940s weekends, and a Transport Extravaganza. On some events, extra admission charges apply (usually £1 on normal entry).

        Crich is situated 8miles from Junction 28 of the M1, and near the A38, A6, A61 and A52. It is fairly straightforward to find, and well signposted.
        Buses run every day from Matlock, Alfreton, Belper and Ripley. The first three are served by East Midlands Trains at least hourly. Whatstandwell is the nearest station, also with hourly EMT service, but it is a steep uphill walk of around a mile to the museum.

        For those looking for something different, the museum also offers "The Ultimate Driving Experience", the chance to drive one of their trams. For £250, this could be a good gift for the person who has everything.

        Crich Tramway Village provides a great day out with interest for the whole family. It provides nostalgia for those who remember "proper" trams in service, and enlightenment for those who are too young to have seen them. At £10, it's not the cheapest, but worth it IMHO. The only real downside is the possible ques on busy days, and the fact that it is a little out the way.

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          29.01.2002 16:51
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          In just a couple of weeks it will be half term and a time when you may want to think of things to do with your children. When it is not the school holiday you may be looking for things to do with out children about. You may think it is a bit early in the year to think of outings but the destination I have in mind is open most of the year. Settled in the middle of Derbyshire is a small town called Crich. This picturesque setting is where you will find one of our national museums, the national Tramway Museum. In 1959 the site in Crich was acquired for the museum. It used to be a mineral railway transporting minerals from the mine. Various buildings have been erected on the site including the original façade of the Derby Assembly Rooms and a fine Victorian Bridge. This museum is of interest to all ages of people. Did you grow up with trams, did you go by tram to school, doing your homework on the long journeys? If you grew up with trams fifty years ago then a trip to this museum is a trip down memory lane. If you are more familiar with the modern trams, which you find in cities like Sheffield, then you will see quite a difference! When we went to this museum I went with my husband and children, none of us had grown up with trams. As none of us were familiar with trams this was not a nostalgic step back in time but a history lesson. When you come to the Tramway museum you get the opportunity to ride of several different trams. The trams in the museum come from all over Britain and even from other countries. You get the opportunity to feel how comfortable trams could be and how hard the seats could be. The number of styles of trams is numerous, there are some designed for commuting, and others designed for pleasure trips. Some trams are single decked and others double decked, some are closed topped and others open topped. Some of the trams have very round fronts and others are much more like the modern busses. Although most o
          f the trams are run on electricity you may even get to see a horse pulling one. There is a journey you can take, as many times as you like in as many different trams you want to ride. On the tram you find the conductor checking you tickets. You can choose to get off the tram a various stops there are things of interest to see at all these stops. It will not be long before another tram turns up to take you to the next stop! The journey takes you up hill along a wooded track. If you look out you can see across the beautiful Derbyshire countryside. While at this museum you can sometimes here bands playing in the bandstand, if you choose the right day you may see people dressed up in costume. Take a look at the mining display, have a rest in the cabman’s shelter, or go to the viewing platform to stare with wonder across the countryside. There are various displays to look at where you can find out about the history of the trams and the demise in the 20th century. There are shops where you can spend your money of various souvenirs and gifts. The café is very reasonable for a cup of tea or a snack. The Tramway museum is worth a visit for all ages of people you can spend a day travelling up and down the line, if you have children who like transport then this museum is a must as it makes a change from steam trains! The opening times are Daily 9 to 24 February - 10.30am - 4.00pm Sat & Sun in March - 10.30am - 4.00pm Daily 23 March to 3 November - 10.00am - 5.30pm Sat & Sun & Mon until 22 December - 10.30am - 4.00pm Daily 7 ˆ 16 Dec - 10.30am - 4.00pm As for the prices, I think they are quite reasonable for a good day out. For 2002 it costs: Adults £7.00, Child (3-15yrs) £3.50, Senior Citizens £6.00, Family (2 Adults & 3 children) £19.00

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