COMING UP IN THE SEPTEMBER 2018 ISSUE: Trams are coming back – in more ways than one!

Whether you’re considering adding trams to your model railway layout or simply fancy a trip back in time on that other type of railed transport, a visit to the Tramway Village at Crich, Derbyshire, will make a great day out, reports Craig Amess.

A growing area of interest in railway modelling is the inclusion of trams, which can bring a new dimension to period and modern townscapes alike.

Electric tramways, which evolved from horse trams and some developments with steam, became prevalent during the early 20th century when systems became widespread throughout the country, bringing a rapid improvement in public transport.

Reproducing old-time tramways, with their intricate webs of overhead wiring, is a very interesting area of ‘rail’ modelling, and the trams can complement the trains to perfection on large town or city model railway layouts.

As towns and cities expanded beyond their original boundaries, some tramway systems developed into trolleybus routes, and others were replaced by buses even before the Second World War, but as cars became affordable to more and more people, the 1950s and 60s saw the closure of most tramways.

The notable exception was Blackpool, the birthplace of the electric tramcar in this country, which, although now modernised, still runs heritage trams at certain periods and draws thousands of tourists a year to the seaside town.

One of the models on show at the Model Tram and Railway Exhibition at the Crich Tramway Village over the weekend of August 18-19 was this one of Nottingham City Transport’s Parliament Street Garage on which all the buildings and 50% of the vehicles are scratch-built.

As with many things, though, trams have come full circle to re-emerge as light rail systems providing mass environmentally friendly transport in crowded cities such as Nottingham, Sheffield and Manchester.

However those early tramcars were never forgotten, and in August 1948 a group of enthusiasts on a farewell tour of Southampton Tramways purchased one of the open-top trams they had once ridden, Southampton No. 45, for just £10 (the 2016 equivalent being £320) – and so started the tramcar preservation movement.

A promenade ‘toast rack’ tram stands next to an early double-decker as it prepares for its next outing during the recent very hot weather.

This significant purchase became the catalyst for the foundation, in 1955, of the Tramway Museum Society (TMS), whose purpose was to save and preserve an important part of our transport history and ensure that future generations would be able to see and experience these historic vehicles.

After the formation of this society, more tramcars and associated artefacts were saved as, one by one, the remaining tramways finished operating.

For the full article and to view more images, see the September edition of Modelling – available now!

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