• Welcome to this forum Guest. We are a worldwide group with a common interest in Birmingham and its history. While here, please follow a few simple rules. We ask that you respect other members, thank those who have helped you and please keep your contributions on-topic with the thread.

    We do hope you enjoy your visit. BHF Admin Team

Getting on the tram

Bob Davis

Bob Davis
Perhaps a mod will put this in the posting to which it refers. Recently questions have been asked about traffic at the time a tram stopped and there has been no realisation that we are thinking and knowing 21st century about a transport system that was gone in the main mid 20th Century. In the picture of the 37 at Hill Street, the question was what was the woman doing? I think she was actually about to cross the road in front of the car and behind the tram. I am sure you all had a mother like mine who would grab you by the hand and drag you across New Street/Corporation Street, in fact any street where you were on the wrong side of the street. Remember there was no green cross code, no look right, look left and look right again because unless you were on the Chester Road, Coventry Road etc, there was not a great deal of traffic, there were until the mid fifties still a lot of horse and carts, Co - op coal, Scribbans bakery, Handsworth Dairies and even still a few Railway deliveries done by horse and cart. Post war cars were faster than their pre war counterparts, motor bikes did not have the power we now see, we remember lovingly AJS, Matchless, Vincent HRD etc there were fast sports cars Frazer Nash MG, Allard etc. That covers us, the transport now to the crux. My relationship with trams covered routes 2, 3x, 78, 79 and the trams to the Lickeys,. To a lesser extent I had used since the age of 9, the trams that ran from Martineau Street. Sent up to town to pick up the new ration books and some Marsh and Baxter sausages, Mum was at work, I was a bit of a loner and I travelled and explored and developed my love of public transport so to get back to Court Lane, I devised many ways of travelling home. BCT tram and bus the 8 and 11 often featured. But in all that time, I never saw a vehicle overtake a tram when it was stopped to pick up passengers, I jumped off enough before they had fully stopped and have seen those about to board step into the road well before the tram reached the stop. Cars would also stop. I cannot recall ever seeing a car undertake or overtake a stopping tram. Often a Horse and cart would delay the exit because the tram had drawn level with it at the stop. The other thing we need to remember is that the platform was at least two feet above ground level watching people with sticks, like my grandad, and crutches was painful. Sorry if this has gone on a bit, but what about your memories.
Bob
 

mikejee

Super Moderator
Staff member
Personally I already think there is enough congestion caused by people who insist on driving their children to school, often only a short distance, without long queues of traffic held up if they could not pass the disgorging bus (which can often be stationary for 5 minutes
 

nickcc101

master brummie
Personally I already think there is enough congestion caused by people who insist on driving their children to school, often only a short distance, without long queues of traffic held up if they could not pass the disgorging bus (which can often be stationary for 5 minutes
But surely the saving of children's lives is more important than pandering to the often impatient motorist. I totally agree that more parents should walk their children to school but once again the motorist is more important.
 

rosie

brummie
Going off topic. Yesterday we were stuck in a traffic jam outside the local school for nearly 20 minutes while the cars waiting were dodging about, doing "U" turns, cutting across whenever they could and parking on the "zig-zags", kerbs and crossings, pavements, and across a junction. It was incredible and I would not have believed it! Children were darting in and out with little regard for anything moving in order to get to their car quicker.
We were not impatient, just amazed.
rosie.
 

Robert Ensor (bob)

master brummie
Shame we don't have a similar rule in this country as they do in the USA regards not passing a School bus when loading or discharging passengers.
Well the whole American school bus debate is for another thread on another forum, I live it every day

Now it was the American school bus that got me thinking about the correct protocol for cars and trams.
Here we have to stop in both directions on a non divided road while the bus is at rest and people are getting on and off, and of course the bus is at the curb

So traveling back to the days of the tram it struck me that getting on and off was some what of a precious task

Starting with the fact the tram was in the center of the street and getting there you had to hope a car with a braking system that was nowhere near the kind we have today worked along with a horse and cart with no braking system had stopped

Having got to the tram now you had to get on the platform, which must have been a real task in a ankle length dress, then add children and perhaps a pram.

Now when it became time to get of the tram some of the same perils you faced before were still there with a chance of more some even higher, because if you needed to be on the other side of the road now you had to cross a a track and the road both of which had a good chance of moving traffic, and keeping in mind you could well be faced with cars traveling in both directions non of this traffic was compelled to stop.

I understand the speeds and amount of traffic was nowhere near the levels we see to day, but the thought of having people go to the center of the road to take public transportation today sounds crazy.
 

oldMohawk

master brummie
As a youngster I got on and off trams in the middle of roads and I don't remember it being a problem. We were very alert to passing traffic. I often stood on the bottom steps of trams to jump off before they had completely stopped. Just like a young lad is doing, well before the tram stop, on the busy Salford Bridge in the pic below. Perhaps we were lucky ... :rolleyes:
79Tram717.JPG
 

Spargone

master brummie
The Highway Code 1935 says:

Overtaking
(27) Subject to any local provisions to the contrary, tramcars may be overtaken on either side. Before overtaking a tramcar which is about to stop or is stationary watch carefully to see if passengers are about to alight. Go slow or stop as the circumstances require.
 

DavidGrain

master brummie
I have mentioned on another tram thread that I thought that in every country the rule was that cars could not pass a tram on the inside when it was stopped at a tram stop. However, in Riga, Latvia, last year I was about to step off the pavement to board a tram in the middle of the road as a car came past. Fortunately I was able to stop in time.

However in Leipzig, Germany, on the only time that I had to board a tram that was stopped in the middle of the road, all the cars stopped. This was particularly important as it was a wide road with two lanes of traffic on the inside of the tram.
 

Robert Ensor (bob)

master brummie
The Highway Code 1935 says:

Overtaking
(27) Subject to any local provisions to the contrary, tramcars may be overtaken on either side. Before overtaking a tramcar which is about to stop or is stationary watch carefully to see if passengers are about to alight. Go slow or stop as the circumstances require.
I see a headlight on a tram but no stop lights.
So how did people know when a tram was going to slow down or stop ? Ha Ha.
I suppose back then common sense was common not like today.
 

Bob Davis

Bob Davis
As a youngster I got on and off trams in the middle of roads and I don't remember it being a problem. We were very alert to passing traffic. I often stood on the bottom steps of trams to jump off before they had completely stopped. Just like a young lad is doing, well before the tram stop, on the busy Salford Bridge in the pic below. Perhaps we were lucky ... :rolleyes:
View attachment 137586
This picture gives an excellent view of the height involved when leaving a tram. I have a daughter who is disabled and looking at this whilst she has no problem with the Midland Metro, we did the run New Street (or should I say Grand Central) to Wolverhampton and was able get on with her wheelchair and off walking (Don't ask), but she could not have used a tram like this in any shape or form. How much times have changed, that little boy looks as if he is on his own. Not now there would need to be a parent and as for preparing to jump off the tram...heaven forbid. Now you have to wait until the vehicle has stopped before you can even stand up. How did we all survive and come through a war.

Bob
 

Bob Davis

Bob Davis
I see a headlight on a tram but no stop lights.
So how did people know when a tram was going to slow down or stop ? Ha Ha.
I suppose back then common sense was common not like today.
In the fog that headlight was like a beacon. The simple answer is that you only knew it might be stopping because it slowed down and then stopped, but of course you could see people on the platform waiting to get off and then you saw those waiting to get on surge into the road. Are there any ex tram drivers on the forum who can give us the worms eye view.

bob
 

DavidGrain

master brummie
I see a headlight on a tram but no stop lights.
So how did people know when a tram was going to slow down or stop ? Ha Ha.
I suppose back then common sense was common not like today.
Stop lights on vehicles came long after the trams were built. There used to be hand signals in the Highway Code to signal, 'I am slowing down or stopping' but I don't think it was possible for a tram driver to give these signals.
 

Robert Ensor (bob)

master brummie
So the last couple of posts use the term "Tram Driver" was this in fact their true job description ?.

I have no idea, a term I have heard is Motor Man and Operater.
 

Robert Ensor (bob)

master brummie
This picture gives an excellent view of the height involved when leaving a tram. I have a daughter who is disabled and looking at this whilst she has no problem with the Midland Metro, we did the run New Street (or should I say Grand Central) to Wolverhampton and was able get on with her wheelchair and off walking (Don't ask), but she could not have used a tram like this in any shape or form. How much times have changed, that little boy looks as if he is on his own. Not now there would need to be a parent and as for preparing to jump off the tram...heaven forbid. Now you have to wait until the vehicle has stopped before you can even stand up. How did we all survive and come through a war.

Bob
Thankfully we have come a long way towards accommodating people with disability's.
But transportation and disability could well be its own thread.
 

Radiorails

master brummie
If a look at post 8 is done it can be seen that trams did have a rear light, fitted at both car ends. It can be seen at 'four o'clock' in relation to the centre light.
 
Top