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Birmingham Trams

tardebigge

BCT Fan
Some of you may have been aware of a phototopic site maintained by Kevin Saunders titled "Birmingham - The Electric 50's".
Sadly Kevin passed away some years ago. However I am pleased to say that his widow has forwarded to me all his archived material and photos. There is a substantial amount of pictures taken by Kevin, covering almost every bus,both pre-war and those I am particularly interested in, namely 1481 through 3227. Additionally there is a large amount of tram pictures (and for those interested trolley buses).
I shall be resurrecting his web site, and will advise when it is up and running.
 

jennyann

Gone but not forgotten. R.I.P.
Staff member
Look forward to seeing that Tardebigge. Thanks for the heads up.
 
S

Stitcher

Guest
A picture of workmen laying tram tracks along the Stratford Rd near Farm Rd. in 1905.
 
S

Stitcher

Guest
All I know about this one is that its about the turn of the century. It is a steam tram but you can see the wires have been installed ready for the electic trams. Perhaps one of the others can be more specific with a date.
 
S

Stitcher

Guest
Frothy, as you know I changed my avatar several times. It would seem likely that this one is keeping the BRAWomin away from me so I am staying as I am.
 

Peter Walker

gone but not forgotten
I really fancu that picture of the steam tram on temporary track, Stitch.
I recdently came across two articles written in 1965 by C Gilbert, then aged 70, who was born in Ravenhurst Street and, as he says, 'grew up with the steam trams'. He was an observant boy, with a technical bent, and I found his recollections really like a breath from the past.
I think it's a bit too long to quote in full, but I may do some extracts some time.
Peter
 
S

Stitcher

Guest
Peter, you may have read before that I am not a bus or tram type, although I did work on the red at the same time as Mike and Lloyd. These pictures are from a few very old books and scraps that I have saved over the years.
 

Lloyd

master brummie
Its late winter 1906, stitcher. The Corporation electric cars commenced service on 1st January 1907, as the City of Birmingham Tramway Company's leases ended at midnight on 31st December 1906.
The Corporation had 4 hours to remove temporary track used during the construction, and couple up supply to the overhead lines - not just Stratford Road, but routes to Kings Heath, Nechells (formerly horse traction), Alum Rock, Newtown Row, Cannon Hill Park, Edward Road Balsall Heath, Yardley and Bolton Road as well. Didn't they do well!!
A few steam engines went to Hockley depot for shunting cable trams about, the rest of the equipment was taken to Thos. W. Ward's scrapyard at Wednesbury. (I wonder if they went under their own power, as the electric cars did to Witton and Kyotts Lake nearly half a century later?)
Here's another steam tram running under electric wires on Stratford Road.
 

motorman-mike

Brum visitor who stayed.
With the present cold snap road chaos it is interesting that in winters like 1947 the trams kept on running. Front and rear life guards would be removed and replaced with snowplough blades. When snow warnings were received empty trams would, if considered necessary, run backwards and forwards all night long to keep the track clear for the normal service. (This was in addition to the BCT gritting squads working through the night along the bus routes as well). We never heard of the 'wrong kind' of snow in those days.
 
S

Stitcher

Guest
Mike, when I was a child I remember the 'GRIT LORRY' was a 4 wheel rigid. It came up our road whenever we had snow or ice, two men on the back spreading the grit with pan shovels, I was led to understand that the men were from Acocks Green Bus Garage and we never lived on a bus route. Nowadays with automatic spreaders they cant cope.
 

motorman-mike

Brum visitor who stayed.
Mike, when I was a child I remember the 'GRIT LORRY' was a 4 wheel rigid. It came up our road whenever we had snow or ice, two men on the back spreading the grit with pan shovels, I was led to understand that the men were from Acocks Green Bus Garage and we never lived on a bus route. Nowadays with automatic spreaders they cant cope.
That made me smile Trevor, did any of the gritting blokes live in your road or nearby? I knew some roads off bus routes in Billesley in the 1960's that got gritted in the night because the blokes went home for an unofficial tea break and warm up during their labours.
Mike

Meanwhile below, Moseley Road open balcony car 416 was passing through a slushy Bull Ring in 1947..
 

jennyann

Gone but not forgotten. R.I.P.
Staff member
Hi Mike: I liked that bit about the trams sometimes running back and forth all night long when it snowed to keep the track open. Makes sense to me. These days we have a hugely expensive system in Vancouver called Skytrain
and what did the Transport people do when the snow came before Xmas...yes, they ran the Skytrains backwards and forwards along all routes to keep the tracks open.:)
 
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Lloyd

master brummie
I remember being told that in icy or snowy weather, the first tram running down any steep hill (Like Hill Top, between West Bromwich and Wednesbury) would run 'wrong line', i.e down the up line, so that the rails would be clear for it to climb up on its return.
There used to be snow-plough buses too, withdrawn ones which had a blade hung underneath and could run during the night to keep main roads and bus routes open for the next day, and the gritters would use lorries made out of old buses with the bodies taken off and lorry bodies built on instead, like this painting of ex bus 674 in New Street.

View attachment 43361
 
S

Stitcher

Guest
Brilliant picture Lloyd. The one that came up our moms road was just like that.
 
S

Stitcher

Guest
Great picture Lloyd, that is exactly the same as the one that used to grit our moms road.
 

Peter Walker

gone but not forgotten
Sorry this is slightly off-topic, but it makes me remember the quality of operation and maintenance on the Brum trams.
Last Sunday night we had about eight inches of snow in Croydon, with several days warning. I came home on our local tram about 11.30 and it was the snow was already about 3 inches thick. The tram was running perfectly well, but it was designed for worse weather than that.
No gritting or sweeping was done overnight, as far as I saw, and as a result no-one could drive to the depot next morning and no service was operated all day.
This morning they already had the route to Wimbledon running on the section converted from railway track, but they couldn't get into the town centre.
Still no news when they will come past our house again - already 48 hours without a tram.
What would Mr Baker have to say about that!
Peter
 

Lloyd

master brummie
Alfred Baker (Birmingham Corporation's Tramways Manager) would have been apoplectic! Back in the days when civic pride was the rule, rather than the exception, tram drivers (sorry, 'Motormen') and conductors - and everybody else involved with running the network would have walked to work as normal and got the service out. Similarly Peter, Mr. Aubrey Llewellyn Coventry Fell, CBE, the chief officer of the LCC Tramways Department, must be turning in his grave.
 
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