Nexus helps out with essential work on Beamish Museum’s historic Tramway

Metro engineers work on Beamish tramway overhead lines
16 December 2021

Railway engineers from the Tyne and Wear Metro have stepped back in time at Beamish Museum to help ensure its iconic Tramway is in tip top condition.

The Metro staff conducted a safety critical inspection of Beamish’s Tramway - a crowd-pleasing feature of the famous open-air museum in County Durham.

Their knowledge and expertise were a big boost for the team at Beamish, who look after a fleet of street running trams and trolley buses.  

Nexus, the public body which owns and manages Metro, said it was more than happy to help in the wake of the storm. Its workers attended as part of a scheme where Nexus staff can do a day’s voluntary work in the community.

They brought in advanced equipment, normally used on the Metro system for nightly maintenance tasks, to undertake the detailed inspection work.

A special road rail vehicle, known as an RRV, was deployed so that they could safely work at height to inspect the overhead lines on the Beamish Tramway, which transports visitors around the museum, including The 1900s Town. Drone technology was also used. 

Principal Engineer at Nexus, Malcolm Irving, 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.”

Matt Ellis, Keeper of Transport at Beamish Museum, 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.”

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.

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. 

The route is now some one and a half miles in length, with four passing loops.

Find out more at 


Keeper of Transport at Beamish Museum, Matt Ellis

Principal Engineer at Nexus Malcolm Irving

© 2022 Nexus Tyne and Wear - Public Transport and Local Information.