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Driving Experience

Me in July 2000 at the National Tramway Museum

Me "on the handles" of Glasgow 1282.
This tram is a Coronation type built in 1940.

On the 9th July 2000, I went to the National Tramway Museum in Crich for "The Ultimate Driving Experience", which is a one day tram driving course. Starting at 10:30, we spent the morning in the classroom on the theory (which concentrated heavily on safety). We had one round trip observing one of the instructors as the explained all of the hazards. Some are obvious, but others aren't. In addition to normal road hazards, we had to remember that points and the breaks in the overhead wire had to be passed through with the tram coasting. Fortunately, there is only one section break in the overhead at Crich. As we were driving cars with bow collectors, we also had to remember to shut off power as the bow flips over at each end of the line. When the other driver had his turn, I saw the reason why (he forgot and there was a huge flash from the overhead wire).
I was very nervous (especially as the other driver had most of his family on board), but I thought I did OK. Afterwards, I was told I'd done very well indeed.
I thoroughly enjoyed the whole day there, which went by all too quickly. They told us that there was also an "Advanced Ultimate Driving Experience", where the driving is done on the older type of tram that doesn't have the air brake (we didn't use the handbrake on our course). Was I going to do that? Silly question, of course I did. I did that on the 9th September.

This photo was taken on my last round trip on the line while we waited for the single track section to become clear.
You can see my instructor standing in the doorway to the driver's cab. For my last trip, I couldn't see where he was - though in any emergency the conductors are trained to be able to stop the car from the back platform and (of course) there was one acting as a guard on this tram.

A photograph of the tramcar. It's 34 feet long and has 4 traction motors, which means it is a very fast car. There were only two of us driving this one, this shot was taken as the other driver was taking the controller key and air brake lever from one end of the car to the other (you can just about see he's ready to start again). We each had three round trips.
Notice the "L" plate on the front. It didn't stop people trying to get on the tram.

At the end of the day's course we all received a certificate. Unfortunately, it didn't scan very well, the real thing does look quite impressive..

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Background is Wolverhampton trolleybus No 74, a Guy BTX with Guy bodywork, the Black Country Museum in Dudley has No 78, which is identical. It was discovered in a field in Ireland and returned to the museum for restoration.

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