Beamish thanks Nexus engineers for Tramway help

December 16th 2021

Beamish, The Living Museum of the North today thanked kind-hearted Nexus railway engineers who volunteered their skills to help the museum’s Tramway.

Around 20 Nexus employees spent the day using specialist equipment to carry out routine inspections on overhead lines on Beamish’s 1.5-mile Tramway, which is used by the museum’s fleet of trams to transport visitors.

Malcolm Irving (Nexus) and Matt Ellis (Beamish) on 1900s Town street with Nexus' road rail vehicle

The visit was part of a scheme by Nexus, the public body that owns and manages the Metro, that allows staff to do voluntary work to help the local community, and Nexus also brought in the specialist equipment that was used. The support was a huge boost for the museum, which is a charity still working to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Matt Ellis, Beamish’s Keeper of Transport, said: “We’d like to thank Nexus very much for coming in and helping us with this work, it’s very much appreciated.

“Nexus supplied their equipment for their staff to use and the team inspected the entire overhead line equipment and fittings, for any degradation due to weather, age, storm damage and any long-term wear, particularly to the contact wire. It’s a routine thing, we would have to get round to each bit eventually ourselves, but the fact that we can do the entire system in one day makes it quite an easy thing.

“Thank you to Nexus, we’re very grateful.”

Matt added that the inspection will help plan any maintenance renewals or repairs for the coming years, particularly as the museum is planning trolleybus operation as part of its Remaking Beamish project.

Nexus staff brought along special MEWPs (mobile elevating work platforms) that run on road and rails to Beamish to carry out the at-height inspection work. These, along with other specialist equipment, such as laser measuring, drones and test equipment, allowed a full inspection and survey to be undertaken.

Malcolm Irving, Principal Engineer at Nexus, said: “It’s been a fantastic experience for our staff carry out such vital work on the Beamish tram system. We were more than happy to help out, and we really enjoyed the day.

“The work we did was of some extra importance given the recent ravages of Storm Arwen, and it was certainly a big help to the team at Beamish.

“We undertook a full safety critical inspection of the tramway’s overhead lines. It’s a working transport system so the equipment needs to be checked in accordance with the modern-day safety regulations just like any other railway network.

“We have the expertise and the equipment to do this sort of work, which is a daily occurrence on the Tyne and Wear Metro system.

“We have been able to ensure that the famous tramway at Beamish is reliable and safe for many years to come.

“Nexus has a specific policy that allows staff to do a day’s voluntary work every year, and everyone was keen that we should devote that to helping out a not-for-profit organisation like Beamish, a museum that has helped to put our region on the map.”

Beamish takes visitors back in time to experience life in the Georgian, Edwardian, 1940s and 1950s eras. Its Tramway first opened in 1973, and was extended to a complete circuit in 1993. The museum has a fleet of nine trams, most dating back to the early 1900s, and in a typical year Beamish trams travel a total of around 24,000 miles.

The museum’s Remaking Beamish project is underway, which includes a 1950s Town, featuring a trolleybus route, as well as a 1950s Farm and expansion of the Georgian Landscape, including overnight accommodation. Thanks to the money raised by National Lottery players, the Remaking Beamish project has been awarded a £10.9million grant by The National Lottery Heritage Fund. Beamish is still fundraising for the remaining project match funding, and there is a fundraising plan in place to guide this work.