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Birmingham Trams

Peter Walker

gone but not forgotten
Mike, that's a lovely thought, but I'm too cynical to believe that BCT traqm 395 could ever run on the Black Country Museum tracks - first and foremost because I doubt that the proprietors (who do a fantastic job deserving every credit) would wish to exhibit a tram which - as far as I can see - never ran on the Dudley Road or Soho Road, let alone cross the frontier into the Fatherland.
I've just done some research, and it looks as if 395 spent its first years from 1912 to 1927 at Bournbrook depot, transferred to the new depot at Selly Oak which continued to serve the Bristol Road routes; then in 1939 it was moved to Coventry Road to work the Stechford routes until 1948, when it was transferred to Witton, where it ran on rush hour and football trips until 1950, when it was earmarked for preservation.
I don't remember where it was stored at first, but the damp got certainly got into the roof.
Attached is apart of a faded dyeline print of the shelter I designed when I worked for the City Architect's Department in 1958. If you peer closely you can just about detect the dotted profile of where the tram was supposed to stand. As was the custom at the time, the original pencil drawing was later traced by in ink by Kay (who I heard a couple of years ago is still very much around). This version was used for the contract.
I remember that after the job was finished and the car was brought in, it was in a poor condition - and that was 51 years ago!
Having got all that off my chest, I agree it would be wonderful if the car could be restored to working condition by volunteers.
Peter
 

Lloyd

master brummie
The problem with running 395 at Dudley is mainly that the track is not up to the weight of a top-covered car on four wheels, having been designed for the much lighter 'Tividale' type single decker that they have. Actually there are four, No5 which was the first to be restored and run, 34 which is running now (and in poor state bodily), 102 which served for many years as a shelter at the 'entrance' end of the line, and another dismantled one which was under restoration many years ago, but came to a halt and is now at best an incomplete kit of parts.
Wolverhampton 49 (actually made from two cars, 47 and 49 both of which survived as outbuildings at an undertakers in or near Bridgnorth) was passed by the railway inspectorate to run as open top as the track was renovated by some of the volunteer workers of the transport group, and sees occasional use (part of the conditions of restoration funding was that it isn't used excessively) and is very popular when out. It's a nice tram to drive, as well, which I have done on several occasions when I was a working volunteer there.
There has been an approach by a group restoring a Llandudno ex-Bournemouth open top bogie car to run it at Dudley when it is finished (see picture) until they have 3' 6" track down themselves (probably following the line of the original L&CBER across Bodafon Fields), and although a longer and heavier car is a bogie 8-wheeler, so the weight per axle is less. As a short-term exhibit, it should be allowed although not local. Some of the trolleybuses which run there are not local (Derby, Bradford and Belfast) although their chassis were built in Wolverhampton, and every two years there is a trolleybus rally with vehicles coming from many museums around the country to run 'under the wires' at Dudley.
 

motorman-mike

Brum visitor who stayed.
Many thanks Peter for the 395 information and the drawing is well worth seeing. I was surprised to see how detailed and accurate the tram is drawn as part of it.

Still at the Black Country Museum. Here is car 34 I was trained to drive and awaiting a driving test on when sadly had to give it up due to feet problems. (Not connected with the tram driving). Having passed the test I would then have been trained up on 49 as well which I was really keen to do but really disappointed I didn't get that far. Thought these other views of similar cars when originally in use might be of interest before getting back on thread.
 
J

J S H

Guest
How great to see all those pictures of the Birmingham Trams.I went to school by tram around 1950 and once was very shocked at Northfield when a man fell head first down the stairs and then didn't move at all.
Earlier than that at Bournbrook I remember the car tyres getting stuck in the tram tracks.
 

motorman-mike

Brum visitor who stayed.
Had I not been born too late, how much I would like to have driven trams instead the buses that I drove for most of my working life. (I applied for a job driving the Metro trams before they started running but was turned down for being over the age of 50 at the time - so missed out then as well!)
 
S

Stitcher

Guest
I only ever travelled by tram with mom and dad along the Bristol Road to the Licky's. I can still remember the sound. I remember The Trolley buses on the 44 Warwick Road in more detail. The pictures are all very interesting.
 

motorman-mike

Brum visitor who stayed.
No trolleys on the Warwick Road Trev, they only ran on the Coventry Road or to Nechells. The Cov Road route took them through Digbeth as far as Camp Hill then they turned left under the Bordesley Bridge. Glad you are enjoying these pics.
Mike
 

motorman-mike

Brum visitor who stayed.
Nice shot here of a bow collector car 803 on the No.8 to Alum Rock. Note the pushchair on the platform with the motorman.
 

motorman-mike

Brum visitor who stayed.
Trams a world apart over Dudley way. The first gone forever, Birmingham & Midland Tramways tram No.1 when brand new and the second yet to happen if ever, Midland Metro tram No.08 outside Dudley Zoo (computer image).
 

motorman-mike

Brum visitor who stayed.
Staying in colour, here is a smashing view of car 637 in original livery on the 6 leaving City against the one way traffic in Corporation Street by Old Square. Notice the 'Grand Casino' on the right.
 

mallyb2

master brummie
Great site,I remember going to school on the trams.We used to catch the no.2 at aston rd/dartmouth st. junction,and we used to try and grab an open balconey tram.One thing I don't seem able to get a satisfactory reply to is how were the points operated to change routes.Were they changed electrically,or manually? I don't seem to recall anybody changing the points by hand,but perhaps I just didn't notice. Hoping for a reply, somebody must know,cheers,Mal.
 

motorman-mike

Brum visitor who stayed.
Happy memories mallyb2. I couldn't turn up an open balcony car on the 2 but here is car No.1 on the 6 that captures the joy of riding up on the balcony.
Regards point changes some had to be done by the motorman manually with a point bar carried on the tram and the overhead frog changed by pulling on a linkage that came down a traction pole by the junction. Busy junctions had electric points but you need our technical whizzkid Lloyd to explain those.
Mike
 

Alf

Gone but not forgotten. R.I.P.
Thanks Mike we use to rush to get on that going to Perry Hall Park when I lived in Newtown Row.

I only managed once to travel and have a ride on open front all the way to Lickey Hills magic.:)
 

motorman-mike

Brum visitor who stayed.
Alf,
I envy you that ride out to Rednal. When I was a kid up for a holiday in Brum, I was never took upstairs on the trams cos Mum said they didn't give us time to get down the stairs and we would end up lost if we missed our stop.
Mike
 

Peter Walker

gone but not forgotten
Mallyb2,
The answer to your query about how drivers changed the points at junction is fairly simple. There was a short insulated section on the overhead wire which connected was connected to a relay which actuated the electric point motor. In those days drivers could recognise which way the points were facing, and applied power as they passed the contact (changing the setting of the point blades) if they wanted to go in the other direction.
Sometimes the driver would make an error or the relay or the contact was defective, and he would almost always get his lever out to change the blades manually.
The modern trams have very different and (I suspect over-sophisticated) way of doing a relatively simple job. But in Croydon where I now live they still carry a point lever!
Peter
 

mallyb2

master brummie
Thanks for that Peter,its the first time I've seen mentioned of how the trams changed tracks,it must have required some concentratoin by the drivers to travel on the correct track,after all, they couldn't just turn the wheel a bit harder if they were a bit late thinking, as can a bus driver.When you think back, it must have been a miserable job at times,on their feet all day in all weathers,no heating, open doors ,I
wonder what modern 'elf & safety would make of it all?
There is a tram museum fairly near to where I now live (Chester),the trams are in the Birkenhead transport museum, and they have an open day every year when all the trams & buses are displayed & used to ferry passengers around.I kept meaning to ask them about points changing, but as always, you aremember after you've got home,best wishes, Mal.
 

motorman-mike

Brum visitor who stayed.
Here is an atmospheric view of two Washwood Heath cars (798 and 789) taking up most of the road at the Gate, Saltley on the 10 route. Note the lad on the carrier bike poised for a quick getaway when the bobby in white gives him the chance.
 
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