HPA Keeps National Tramway Museum on Track

Crich TramwayA project with many challenges

The new cafeteria at the National Tramway Museum at Crich in Derbyshire, presented an interesting set of challenges for HPA, Lancaster’s Heritage and conservation architects, as our team were tasked with blending traditional and modern elements into their designs. The client wanted to increase capacity for the cafeteria and add a function room for events such as weddings and conferences. These new facilities had to meet the latest energy efficiency standards, as well as increasing accessibility for all visitors, while at the same time sitting within the Edwardian street scene that had been so carefully created as part of the popular attraction.

The project was further complicated by the existing building, a small timber structure that was no longer fit for purpose. This stands on a raised area above the street level, making any access difficult, especially for less able visitors.

Museum Architects – A solution with many benefits

HPA’s design for the new café and visitor centre includes removing the old building and lowering the vacant ground to street level before construction commences. The rear wall of the new structure will then serve as a retaining wall for the higher ground at the rear of the building.

This layout allows level entry from both front and rear, without the need for ramps. Access to the first floor of the new structure will be provided via a new lift and staircase. As an additional benefit, this lift will be shared by the adjacent re-built Edwardian pub, The Red Lion, which was transported brick by brick from its original location in Stoke on Trent.

Adding to the ambience

The ground floor of the new facility will be home to a new, larger kitchen, which will have the capacity to serve many more visitors, along with a large seating area. Above this there will be a first-floor function room which will also provide additional seating for the cafeteria during the day. This two-storey design provides the modern, energy efficient facilities that the museum needs, however, this was only half of the challenge.

To meet the aesthetic elements of the brief, the front of the new building has been designed to resemble a row of shops, with windows that can be dressed with exhibits relating to the trams. This will blend it naturally into its Edwardian surroundings, creating an authentic street scene.

The HPA team’s expert museum architects used all their experience, innovation and imagination to create a solution that answered all parts of this complex brief. And we are delighted to announce that we have secured planning permission for our designs on behalf of our client. This brings this important project a step closer to help the National Tramway Museum to better serve not only a greater number, but also a wider range of visitors in the future.

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