Crich Tramway Village, officially titled the as the National Tramway Museum, can be found in the village of Crich, Derbyshire, and transports visitors back to a time when trams dominated as the main mode of public transport. Visitors can ride on the museum’s vast collection of British trams, built mainly between the years 1873 and 1982, with each originating from a different part of the country.
The experience is made to feel more authentic with the aid of the Victorian village recreation that the trams drive by; the village exudes the atmosphere of a real turn-of-the-century community, and like the trams, the buildings, too, come from all over Britain: the façade of the Derby Assembly Rooms is on display, and the Red Lion Pub was brought down from Stoke-on-Trent. Visitors can take the Victorian experience further by exploring these old buildings, having a pint in the Red Lion, enjoying light refreshments at Rita’s Tea Rooms, or by purchasing unique souvenirs at the Village Shop.
‘The Century of Trams’ indoor exhibition provides visitors with further knowledge over the history of trams in Britain, while displaying more antique models. Interactive displays and information boards convey the ingenuity it took to engineer the trams, and the important role they played in the development of industry in Britain.
A quick ride of the vintage trams will also take you to the nearby Woodland Walk and Sculpture Trail, which encompasses former lead mining sites, sculptures, and a 19th century cabman’s shelter.
History of Crich Tramway Village
“Father of Railways” in Britain, George Stephenson, once owned the former quarry in which Crich Tramway Village is now built upon. During the 1830s, Stephenson stumbled upon many coal and limestone deposits while constructing the North Midland Railway between Derby and Rotherham, including one in the nearby Clay Cross area. Stephenson purchased the lands of Crich and built a 1,000 mm metre-gauge railway line – the first in the world of its size – between Clay Cross and Ambergate, where he had constructed limekilns. The Chrich Tramway that is in use today follows this same rail route laid out by Stephenson in the 18th century. Stephenson resided in Chesterfield during his retirement, and he was noted to often invite visitors along to see his small railway line through Crich – suggesting the Crich Tramway area has always been somewhat of a tourist destination.
As the age of tramways drew to a close during the interwar years, a band of enthusiasts each chipped in and bought one of the Southampton Tramway trams – Number 45, which is still on display in the Tramway Museum– for a total £10 in August of 1948. This Tram obsession grew into the forming of the group, the Tramway Museum Society, in 1955, who would go on to lease the area surrounding the Crich limestone quarry, as a place to keep their collections and also base their operations.
The group was registered as an educational society in 1963, and over the following years procured an extensive selection of trams and started the construction of the streetscape in 1967 which stands today as the Crich Tramway Village.
Things to see and Do at Crich Tramway Village
Ride the Trams – Take a ride on one of the many working vintage trams and visit a bygone era of transport while soaking up the atmosphere of the period street. Sure to delight and fascinate visitors of all ages, the tram makes five stops in total, and visitors are free to hop on-and-off wherever they please. The stops include Terminus Town End, where most board the tram; Stephenson Place, where you’ll find the village sweet shop; Victoria Park, where you’ll find the band stand, main entrance, and the play park; the Wakebridge, where you’ll find the entrance to the woodland walk and Electrical Sub-station; and finally, the Glory Mine, which is a great spot for picnics and is where you can access the footpath that leads you to Crich Stand.
The Century of Trams Exhibiton – There are several exhibitions found throughout Crich’s indoor museum, the first of which being the ‘The Century of Trams’, which details the development of trams, from horse trams to electric trams, through audio and archive film, interactive displays, and information boards.
The Stephenson Discovery Centre – George Stephenson’s original workshop – built in the early 19th century– stands today in the middle of Crich’s indoor museum. No longer used as a smithy, the building is now an award-winning learning space, which details the history of both Stephenson and the Tramway Village.
Workshop Viewing Gallery – Connected to the Stephenson Discovery Centre by a glass bridge, the Viewing Gallery allows visitors to spectate the meticulous restoration of trams.
The Red Lion – Fitting inconspicuously into the Victorian street recreation, the Red Lion originally stood in, and served the people of, Stoke-on-Trent; the pub was dismantled, moved, and rebuilt in its entirety, and stands today as a popular destination for real ale enthusiasts – some people even visit Crich Village just to sample some of the pub’s locally sourced tipples.
Woodland Walk and Sculpture Trail – Alighting the tram at the Wakebridge stop, visitors will find a woodland trail that is perfect for a light walk through nearby forestry, decorated with sculptures created by Crich’s resident sculptor. The woodlands also afford terrific views of the Derwent Valley.
How to get there
By car – Crich can be easily accessed via a number of the main roads found in this area of the Peak District, including the A61, A6, A38, and the A52. The Tramway Village is located just 8 miles away from junction 28 on the M1; from this point, brown signs should appear along the road indicating Crich.
Postcode for Satnav – DE4 5DP
Parking – There is an onsite carpark – the price of which is included in the ticket.
Public Transport – Whatstandwell railway station is located a mile away from the Tramway Village. There is also a bus stop located directly in front of the entrance, with bus services running from Matlock (140), Alfreton (140), Ripley (141), and Belper (142).
Good To Know
– Buy tickets online and save 50p.
– Cheaper tickets are available for those who don’t want to ride the trams.
– Picnic areas are available.
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday – 10am -4.30pm (last admission 3pm)
Saturday and Sunday – 10am -5pm (last admission 4pm)
Adult – £18
Senior (Over 60-year olds) – £14.50
Child (4-15-year olds) – £11.00
Family (two adults, 3 children; or 1 adult, 4 children) – £41
(these prices include a tram ticket)