• 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
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.
That was just a red rear light I think, i am sure there was no mechanism to light it as it stopped. Did cars actually have stop lights, I remember that the Ford 8 of my grandmothers lodger (they eventually married when she was 94), had just a single rear light on top of the number plate. Aha OM you have mentioned the cyclists nightmare, TRAM TRACKS especially in the wet.
Rob Ensor , (one of the other Bob's) American School Buses, know all about them, got the lecture in Sarasota, luckily it was only a lecture. You'all go steady now

Bob

Sorry David your reply was not showing when I started my reply, but please enlarge on the braking systems.

Bob
 

Richarddye

master brummie
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
Bob, yes...………..wonderful memories, been there done many of those! Thank you...….
 

Richarddye

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.
And if you depending upon the state will be walking for 30 days which is a big deal since public transportation is not the same as in Brum!
 

Robert Ensor (bob)

master brummie
That was just a red rear light I think, i am sure there was no mechanism to light it as it stopped. Did cars actually have stop lights, I remember that the Ford 8 of my grandmothers lodger (they eventually married when she was 94), had just a single rear light on top of the number plate. Aha OM you have mentioned the cyclists nightmare, TRAM TRACKS especially in the wet.
Rob Ensor , (one of the other Bob's) American School Buses, know all about them, got the lecture in Sarasota, luckily it was only a lecture. You'all go steady now

Bob

Sorry David your reply was not showing when I started my reply, but please enlarge on the braking systems.

Bob
Stop lights came about 1915, the trafficater early 20's
Back before electric lights on cars most rear lights were oil
 

maypolebaz

master brummie
We had to watch out for passing cyclists and they had to keep their front wheels out of the tracks ... :)
View attachment 137700
Yes, that reminds me of my mother telling me that when I was a toddler she had me in a seat on the back of her bike. Going through Kings Heath, on a wet day, she got her front wheel on a tram track and could'nt get off. She ended up falling off her bike but luckily we were both unscathed. Dangerous things, those tracks.
 

DavidGrain

master brummie
Yes, that reminds me of my mother telling me that when I was a toddler she had me in a seat on the back of her bike. Going through Kings Heath, on a wet day, she got her front wheel on a tram track and could'nt get off. She ended up falling off her bike but luckily we were both unscathed. Dangerous things, those tracks.
In Porthmadog in North Wales the Welsh Highland Railway runs on the road across a bridge so there are tram tracks there with an instruction for cyclists to dismount but I have never seen anyone do so.
 

Spargone

master brummie
Did cars actually have stop lights, I remember that the Ford 8 of my grandmothers lodger had just a single rear light on top of the number plate.
bhf001.jpg
Here is a contemporary of the Ford, a Vauxhall. As I think you were suggesting there is just a single red tail light that would have had a clear lens underneath so as to light the number plate.
I think that when brake lights were introduced they were such a novelty that they were surrounded by triangles or engraved with 'STOP'. We sometimes forget that life evolves, horses and carts didn't carry signals so why should cars and trams?
 

Bob Davis

Bob Davis
View attachment 137713
Here is a contemporary of the Ford, a Vauxhall. As I think you were suggesting there is just a single red tail light that would have had a clear lens underneath so as to light the number plate.
I think that when brake lights were introduced they were such a novelty that they were surrounded by triangles or engraved with 'STOP'. We sometimes forget that life evolves, horses and carts didn't carry signals so why should cars and trams?
Funny how this theme has developed, and expanded without diverting from the original plot and of course those of us lucky enough, dare I say, to remember that glorious blue & cream machine the tram and have travelled by its modern day counterpart can feel sadness or joy at the former's departure and feel the same about the latters arrival and hopefully David will shortly give us a short piece about the original trams braking systems and perhaps while he is at it an Eagle comic like cutaway of what all those handles and foot pedals were for at either end of the tram. You remember the brass arm that as you were about to touch it as you were waiting to get off, your mother would say' do not touch that, there will be trouble if you do'. Trouble for you or the tram, only just realised that I never actually found out. From Market Street in the Castro District of San Francisco the F route street cars (old American streetcars and Neopolitan trams) that run to Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39 and have had raised stops for wheelchair users, these on the sidewalk, so no dangers there.

Bob
 

DavidGrain

master brummie
There were basically just two hand controls and a foot pedal. There was the controller which regulated the speed and the brake handle which is a winch so you wind it in or out to apply the brakes. Because Birmingham (and Black Country) trams were narrow gauge the cab was not wide enough for the driver to turn the handle, you could always tell a Birmingham tram in a black and white photo because the lower right window of the cab had the glass replaced with a metal place with a bulge in it so that there was room for the drivers hand on the handle. This controlled the mechanical hand brake.

The controller could be pulled right back to operate electrical braking which in an emergency will operate electromagnets against the track. For more technical information on tram brakes see

Finally the foot pedal operates the bell which should be rung every time the tram moves away from a stop.
 

Bob Davis

Bob Davis
There were basically just two hand controls and a foot pedal. There was the controller which regulated the speed and the brake handle which is a winch so you wind it in or out to apply the brakes. Because Birmingham (and Black Country) trams were narrow gauge the cab was not wide enough for the driver to turn the handle, you could always tell a Birmingham tram in a black and white photo because the lower right window of the cab had the glass replaced with a metal place with a bulge in it so that there was room for the drivers hand on the handle. This controlled the mechanical hand brake.

The controller could be pulled right back to operate electrical braking which in an emergency will operate electromagnets against the track. For more technical information on tram brakes see

Finally the foot pedal operates the bell which should be rung every time the tram moves away from a stop.
David
Thank you very much, a mystery from my youth solved.

Bob
 

Robert Ensor (bob)

master brummie
So a little off thread at first I worked with a retired fireman in the 70's and he told me that driving the truck with the water was the hardest to stop, the water would hold enough energy to push the engine through the traffic light under braking.
I am now wondering how good the brakes were on a tram and how were the brakes affected with more folks on board, and weather the bottom of the Lickey road on a bank holiday heading back to town was a nail biter.
I am pretty sure some of those "Motor Men" had a little need for speed once in a while, the Bristol Road had a two or three hills that could satisfy this need ?.
I recall once in a while in my youth being on board a bus that was flying we just thought he was behind schedule ?, of course now thinking about it that poor bloke driving may have had other needs.
 

Robert Ensor (bob)

master brummie
What I should of spoke about in my last post I am sure no one would have been getting on a tram going down the Lickey Road on a bank holiday as the tram would have been packed liked sardines.
So no stopping to pick up but that tram must have been on the brakes all the way down.
 

oldMohawk

master brummie
Part of photo below of a tram driver shown on Robert Darlaston's website.
I remember when a tram reached the terminus the driver spun the brake wheel presumably to unwind any brake action at that end of the tram before he went to drive it from the other end. I used to hear a ratchet making a clicking sound. Look at the sharp edges on those steps.
Driver.jpg
from
 

Robert Ensor (bob)

master brummie
Part of photo below of a tram driver shown on Robert Darlaston's website.
I remember when a tram reached the terminus the driver spun the brake wheel presumably to unwind any brake action at that end of the tram before he went to drive it from the other end. I used to hear a ratchet making a clicking sound. Look at the sharp edges on those steps.
View attachment 137723
from
Thank you a wonderful link great read with some wonderful pictures and great information
Now keeping with the thread getting on and off a tram must have been a little inconvenient first of all for the motor man he stood in front of the steps and must have had to move all the time.
 

Robert Ensor (bob)

master brummie
So I wish I could talk to a motorman, did that sheet metal with the bulge in cause a blind spot when loading and unloading
Then just a question why not fit a smaller wheel ?, and keep the glass
I wonder if a jump seat was ever tried as a regular seat would have gotten in the way ?. standing all that time must have been uncomfortable after a while.

Just a little tidbit we did not how to bend glass never mind put a bulge in it, that is why all trams buses and cars had a flat windshield, and to give a raked or swept look two windshields were used with a center devision.
 

Bob Davis

Bob Davis
Thank you a wonderful link great read with some wonderful pictures and great information
Now keeping with the thread getting on and off a tram must have been a little inconvenient first of all for the motor man he stood in front of the steps and must have had to move all the time.
No, you could only get off and on at the non driven end.
Bob
 

DavidGrain

master brummie
I have a vague memory of the conductor turning the brake handle and I wondered why. Perhaps it was the conductor's job to apply the back brake at the terminus so that the driver could release the brake at the front.
 
Top