In keeping with our many themes, today we visited a tramways museum. This was a great morning. It is run totally by volunteers. Hence quite a conflab to construct a double espresso. Of course we were early and heard the workers chatting about their day and how it all works. Seems they do about 2 days a month. There must be hundreds of these people keeping 80 or so old trams working. They have a couple of miles of track and your ticket gets you unlimited rides on the trams that are running. They use three trams per day and cycle them around so they do all get used.
The highlight for us was when a gang of young people came to sit with us on the upper deck of the tram.
They told us how it works.
Everyone in their families has their birthday at the Crich Tram museum. It has been this way,
There are a few families involved. So there must be a birthday every couple of weeks. These 6 - 12 year olds have been tram riding so often they each have a favourite. None of their favourites were running today.
“This one is not bad. But it does have scratches on the windows. That proves it is really old”
We shared the 15 minute trip with this gang. They laughed and joked as children do and we talked with them… like grandparents. As we climbed off the tram at the end, the mums and dads all apologised for the noisy kids.
We assured them we enjoyed their chatter. Even their questions. They were keen to know who was looking after our pet kangaroos while we were in their country.
No! We did not pretend we had pet kangaroos. They just assumed it.
The inspector on the tram was informative too. He was quite amazed to hear we had grown up in Middlesborough.
“Sure don't sound like it.”
“Well it was 50 years ago.”
“Ahhh…. Still… sure don't sound like it!”
Then on to the woodland walk.
This place opened in 1967. It was a place for enthusiasts to follow their hobby. It is really just a massive train set. But they wanted it to be lots more.
All the buildings were moved piece by piece to this site from places all across the country. Because it is set on the edge of a quarry with a delightful wooded area to one side, they developed a woodland walk. It is complete with lovely woodland carvings all along the mile and a half. After 50 years many are due for repair and replacement. The artist has a workshop on site and is making new carvings all the time.
This is a wonderful family excursion. Everywhere we turned there were grandparents leading their grandkids around the park. Well actually often it was the young ones in the lead.
Grandad: “Where will we go first.”
8 year old: “Woodland walk.”
Grandma: “Don't you want to ride the tram first?”
6 year old: “No the woodland walk.”
Grandad: “Are you sure? The tram ride will be lovely.”
8 year old: “There are no trolls on the trams.”
6 year old: “There are in the woodlands!”
Stories like this are repeated every step of the way. We observed a family wanting a photo by the tram. The first tram mum rode when her dad brought her here as a kid. So mum, her kids and her dad all in front of our tram. The conductor became family photographer. I could tell it was not the first time.
As always there is another hook we did not expect. The Crich museum is built in an old quarry. The quarry was owned by George Stevenson. Yes, Stevenson who invented the steam train. His first train, the Rocket, is still on Darlington railways station. We saw it while waiting for our train to London in 1965. Maybe I am drawing a rather long bow here (Robin Hood reference there BTW - FYI) but the links just keep tumbling out.
And we had one more visit to make.
The place where Mr. Arkwright built his first mills.
The afternoon spent wandering through the Cromford Mills. We saw waterwheels. I can’t resist photographing moving water. We saw the buildings that housed his workings and his workers.
Mr. Arkwright was an amazing capitalist of the late 1700s. According to Tony Robinson’s TV show, he paid his workers with Cromford coin. Which could only be spent in his Cromford stores. So he did build a tidy little self sustaining economy.
Will need my sleep to be ready for that one.