Newest Review: ... 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 ... more
Tramendous Day Out!
National Tramway Museum (Crich, Matlock)
Member Name: werewolf2
National Tramway Museum (Crich, Matlock)
Advantages: great day out, loads to see and do
Disadvantages: can be expensive in shops and cafes, not enough time to do everything in 1 day
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!
Summary: Back to the Future, a history lesson and fun rolled into one great day out!
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