Beamish Tramway

Re-creating the experience and atmosphere of tramway operation from an earlier generation.

Beamish Unlimited

UPDATE: Following the announcement of Tier 3 restrictions for the North East, we’ll be reopening our GROUNDS ONLY for festive visits from Saturday, 5th December.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions we are unable to open our exhibits and run our transport (except our wheelchair accessible bus). Click here for our Visitor Information Guide, including map.

Timeslot tickets are available to book online for visits to Beamish from 5th to 18th December (museum open Wed-Sun, 10am to 4pm, closed Mon and Tues). The government is due to review the tier system by mid-December and we’ll keep everyone updated about tickets for later in December.

To book your timeslot please click here.

From lunchtime on Saturday, 29th August, we will be operating a vintage bus service around the museum using examples from our historic fleet of 1950s Daimler buses and also our replica 1913 Daimler D Type bus. These operate a circular service calling at the Entrance–Pockerley (for Pockerley Old Hall and the Georgian Landscape)–1900s Town (Park Stop)–Foulbridge (for colliery area and bus depot)–Entrance only.

The vehicles are crewed by our trained staff, who are there to ensure that you enjoy your journey and are kept safe at all times.  We are implementing social distancing rules on the vehicles and the conductors will manage this as you board.  Please inform them of your group size and please remember to keep 2m distance from other groups when queuing. The conductor will allocate you seats within the vehicles, and create the appropriate distance from other groups on board. Face coverings must be worn in line with government rules. Please note, there will be no capacity for standing passengers.

We are now operating our Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle every day that the museum is open.  This is available on-call (please request it via any member of staff who will radio for it to attend) and is limited to one household per trip.  It is not operating in general service and is solely available for those who require its adaptations, including the wheelchair lift at the rear of the vehicle.  The crew have been inducted and trained to look after you and enable you to enjoy your visit to the museum.  See more here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-CumQm0X0E.  Please note that we are currently unable to run a bus service to the colliery area.

The Tramway remains closed for now, as do the railways operations at the museum.  With regards to transport, we are faced with a twofold challenge – the need to ensure the highest standards of safety for passenger-carrying transport around the museum and the high operating costs of these activities.  Our closure for four months due to the COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on the museum.

For more information about the transport collection and operations at the museum, please see the transport blog at www.beamishtransportonline.co.uk

During your visit to the museum, you’ll be able to go into most of our exhibits and we’ve introduced one-way systems to help the visitor flow and to ensure your safety, please follow the signs. We will be opening up other areas as and when we are able to, with everyone’s safety as our top priority. Wherever possible, we’ll open up doors of exhibits you can’t yet go into, so you can still look inside. For more information about visiting the museum please click here.

Beamish Tramway, opened in 1973, serves to re-create the experience and atmosphere of tramway operation of an earlier generation, whilst providing an essential means of transport for visitors around the site. As well as the electric trams, there are replica Edwardian motor buses and, part of the present development plans, trolley buses and motor buses to increase access around the site and serve the new 1950s developments.

The Tram and Bus Routes

*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic these services are currently unable to operate

The original 1973 route comprised a single track from the Depot at Foulbridge to the boundary of the Town site.  This was extended into the growing Town in 1975, and then extended beyond Foulbridge to the new Visitor Entrance in 1988, bringing the route to a mile in length, with passing loops at all three stops.  Then in 1993 a major extension completed the circle from Town via Pockerley (with a further passing loop), up a steep gradient through Birch Wood, back to the Visitor Entrance, this completing Route 1. Route 2 serves the Colliery (Pit Hill) and is operated by replica buses from the Edwardian period.  The proposed trolleybus route will run largely in parallel with the tramway, except for a divergence into a 1950s bus station and through parts of the 1950s urban developments.  This route will be operated by both motor and trolley buses.

The Overhead Line and Power Supply

The distinctive poles supporting the overhead have all been recovered from former tram and trolleybus systems, in many cases restored to their original length by specialist welding.  They are set in concrete to a depth of about 2 metres.  The trolley wire is grooved copper alloy, 4/0 gauge (80 sq. mm), suspended either from bracket arms or on span-wire construction, at a normal height of 6 metres.  A second (negative) wire is provided in the Depot area, for safety earthing purposes, and for test-running the trolleybus.  The trams are all fitted with trolley poles and carbon-slipper trolley heads, and return their traction current via the running rails.  Overhead fittings have been salvaged from the Newcastle, South Shields, Tees-side and Bradford systems, and in the Town area period fittings have been used wherever practicable.  Trams use a single wire with the negative route via the rails, whilst trolleybuses use a pair of wires, the negative being one of this pair.

The Tram Depot

The Depot is located within the Foulbridge workshop complex and includes accommodation for trams on four roads (1, 2 3 and 4) and for cars, buses and trolleybuses on roads 4 and 5.  Road 3 is equipped with an inspection and service pit.  Mechanical and Electrical workshops and Stores provide the facilities for routine maintenance, repairs, overhauls and complete restoration work, not only on the vehicles but also on the track, power supply and overhead line system.  Although much of the work on the trams is carried out on site, some specialist work such as traction motor overhauls and wheel re-profiling is undertaken off site by local contractors.  The Depot also houses the substation and telephone exchange.  Future expansion includes construction of a dedicated bus depot, extension to the existing tram depot and creation of enhanced servicing facilities and a vehicle wash bay.

The Fleet

The operating fleet usually consists of between four and six trams, with others in store or undergoing heavy maintenance.  The fleet is now being put into an approximate 7-8 year cycle which sees their intensive maintenance followed by a body lift to allow the motors to be overhauled.  There are two Edwardian replica buses based on the London B type (in Newcastle Corporation livery) and a Northern General Daimler.  A 2007 built accessible bus provides wheelchair access.  A 1932 Leyland Cub is presently being restored to carry additional wheelchairs, and this will be followed by a further Leyland Cub in 2017.  At present there is one working trolleybus, Newcastle 501, but this will be supplemented once the development of the trolleybus route begins from 2016.  An Armstrong Whitworth replica car is also available as a limousine, and a supporting fleet of cars and vans dating from the 1920s to early 1960s can also be seen at work around the Museum.

 

Visit the Beamish Transport blog for more information