Sunday, 20 July 2008

Buses 1,2,3,4,5.

Still moored at Great Northern basin.

Yes, we have been gallivanting all around the county today starting off at 9am just outside the basin. The first leg of our journey was to Ripley market place where we had to change buses to the Crich Tramway Village, latterly called the National Tramway Museum. Now this place is something extra special with trams from all over the country including Scotland, as well as from Hungary or what was, Belgium, South Africa, and the USA.

There is a 12 lane tram shed bulging at the seams with beautifully restored trams, single deck, double deck, open top or completely open. These have come from Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield, Southampton, London and of course the most famous city still running trams, Blackpool. Now I know there are cities like London, Manchester and Nottingham with the new Light Rail systems but these are not quite the same.

The tramway started life as a tramway carrying coal and limestone for George Stephenson, the railway pioneer. It ran to Ambergate where it connected with Stephenson's North Midland railway. As the railways grew the tramway was abandoned until 1959 when word got out that the tramway was available even though a lot of track had been removed to restore the Talyllyn Narrow Gauge railway in Wales. What started out as the Tramway Museum Society had already started acquiring trams for restoration and needed somewhere to store, repair and run them. Problem solved, since then it has grown to this magnificent living museum. The old mining buildings having been lovingly restored and put to use and many buildings that were due for demolition had there facades dismantled brick by brick and moved to Crich and rebuilt. It's like going back through a time warp.

All the drivers, conductors, inspectors and maintenance crew are all volunteers and dress in period uniforms and just to add reality they issue true to period tickets and use period ticket punches. I have to stop here as I won't be able to write about the rest of the day but I will say this is a MUST place to visit if you are in the Nottingham, Derby area.

After spending 4 hours at the Tramway Museum we caught another bus to Heage near Belper to visit one of the few working windmills in Britain. This again is a magnificent building which has been lovingly restored by volunteers. It is only open at the week-ends but they do take guided tours through with all the history, how it operates and the end products which you can buy straight of the millers wheel. There used to be about 80 windmills in this part of the country but this is the only one left.

Buses 4 and 5 were just to get us back to the boat where we were in need of some liquid refreshment. It has been a fantastic day out.

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