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Home arrow Archive: Earlier Fringes arrow Archive: Buxton 2013 arrow Guided Tours Aboard A "Victorian Tram"
Guided Tours Aboard A "Victorian Tram"

4 starsReviewed by Richard Stamp
Departs from in front of the Opera House
Other Events
Daily, on the hour from 10am to 4pm

In the six days since I arrived in Buxton, I’ve noticed two things. Everyone’s talking about the “Victorian tram” – and everyone’s keen to point out that it’s really a milk-float. So, yes, it’s all quite true: the red-liveried “tram” is indeed a refurbished delivery vehicle, and it doesn’t actually go anywhere you couldn’t walk in ten minutes anyway. But to apply such bald logic is to miss the oddball magic of this hour-long tour, which is filled with humour, interest… and electric-powered splendour.

The chances are you’ve never ridden on the back of a milk-float, so here’s what you need to know.  It’s bouncy, noisy, and just a little bit death-defying – which of course is simply another way of telling you that it’s the most enormous fun.  As we trundled laboriously up to the High Street then free-wheeled joyously down Bath Road, the effect was like riding an old-fashioned roller-coaster (but really, really slowly).

Driver and tour guide Nick Christie loves his town like only a local can, and his engaging patter includes a mix of both obvious highlights and lesser-known tales.  We hear a lot about the spa waters – including a few faintly horrifying notes on exactly how they were used – but Christie also points out historic shops, sneaky views, and the interesting little details it’s so easy to miss along the way.  I think I know Buxton as well as any tourist would, but almost all of what I heard was new to me, and I came away with a proper understanding of the history that’s shaped this unique and idiosyncratic town.

It’s an utterly charming experience too; from the window of my improbable conveyance I waved at small children, shared a joke with some workmen, and grinned apologetically at the queue of traffic we were blatantly building up behind us.  It all adds up to the ideal vibe for a lovely, low-key tour, which also included a chin-wag in a historic church and an extended exposition of the delights of local chocolates.

It is, of course, a little bit cheeky to list this “show” in the Fringe programme.  It’s a full-time business, whose season just happens to encompass the relevant two weeks of the year.  But I’ll forgive it that – because it’s also one of the most diverting, entertaining, and out-and-out bonkers things I’ve done in my time in Buxton, and the experience bears comparison to many a play or stand-up routine.  I had a proper laugh, and I learned some history too.  In the world of local tours, this one’s surely the cream.

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These are archived reviews of shows from Buxton 2013.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.