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Tram Gauge

Fireman Sam

knowlegable brummie
Something that's always been on my mind and I'm sure that this is the place to get the answer!

Why did Birmingham's trams run on a 3' 6" gauge when most others in the UK ran to the railway standard 4' 8 1/2"? Was it because of the narrow streets so that two tramcars could pass each other easily or was there another reason?

What I do know is that when the trams picked up speed on the reserved track after Selly Oak when they were making their way to the Lickey Hills, they pitched and rolled rather badly and a ride on the upper deck was 'interesting'! The gauge, I'm sure, was partly to blame.
 

Radiorails

master brummie
The original horse tramways - just two lines, were standard gauge but the introduction of the cable trams from Hockley Brook. which were on the narrower gauge, meant that all the nearby systems that were incorporated into the Birmingham system became the narrow gauge.

Indeed a tramcar ride to the Lickeys was wonderful experience for a youngster - almost as good as the fun fair - especially when it was a bank holiday or similar occasion when extra cars where pressed into service and one the open balcony cars could be ridden in.
 

Fireman Sam

knowlegable brummie
Thanks Radiorails. I believe that the railway gauge was 4' 8 1/2" as this came from the days when horses pulled loaded trucks of coal in coalmine yards and this was an ideal gauge for the horses to work with. No wonder Brunel wanted to change it!

As for the cable tram from Hockley Brook, you've set me another puzzle - why was the gauge 3 feet? Were they worried that the cable wouldn't stand up to pulling heavier loads that a wider gauge would bring?

Hindsight's a wonderful thing but if Birmingham's transport planners could have their time again, would they have chosen the narrow gauge once more? Would they have saved money by choosing the standard gauge when buying trams? After all, 'specials' are always more expensive, and standard gauge trams would have had a greater carrying capacity too.
 

Lloyd

master brummie
Hindsight's a wonderful thing but if Birmingham's transport planners could have their time again, would they have chosen the narrow gauge once more? Would they have saved money by choosing the standard gauge when buying trams? After all, 'specials' are always more expensive, and standard gauge trams would have had a greater carrying capacity too.
There were quite a number of 3' 6" gauge tramways in the UK (see attached list) so the equipment wasn't any more expensive - and in fact, the tramcars were lighter. Birmingham City centre streets were narrow in the tramway building era, and I'm sure that helped the planners to choose "narrow" gauge.

(Can't upload a .doc or .rtf files, so have had to paste the list below)

Cambridgeshire
Peterborough Tramways (defunct)
Cheshire
Chester Corporation Tramways (defunct)
Cornwall
Camborne and Redruth Tramways (defunct)
Cumbria
City of Carlisle Electric Tramways (defunct)
Derbyshire
Ilkeston Corporation Tramways (defunct)
Little Eaton Gangway (defunct)
Devon
Tramways in Exeter (defunct)
Torquay Tramways (defunct)
Tramways in Plymouth (defunct)
Dorset
Bournemouth Corporation Tramways (defunct)
Durham
Darlington Corporation Light Railways (defunct)
Hartlepool Electric Tramways (defunct)
Hartlepools Steam Tramways Company (defunct)
South Shields Tramways (defunct)
East Sussex
Brighton Corporation Tramways (defunct)
Hastings and District Electric Tramways (defunct)
Essex
Colchester Corporation Tramways (defunct)
Southend Pier Railway (1930-1978) (defunct)
Southend-on-Sea Corporation Tramways (defunct)
Gloucestershire
Cheltenham and District Light Railway (defunct)
Gloucester Corporation Tramways (defunct)
Monmouth Railway (defunct)
Severn and Wye Railway (defunct)
Greater Manchester
Wigan Corporation Tramways (defunct)
Herefordshire
Kington Tramway (defunct)
Kent
Dover Corporation Tramways (defunct)
Guilford Tramway (defunct)
Gravesend, Rosherville and Northfleet Tramways (defunct)
Isle of Thanet Electric Tramways and Lighting Company (defunct)
Maidstone Corporation Tramways (defunct)
Sheerness and District Tramways (defunct)
Lancashire
Blackburn and Over Darwen Tramways Company (defunct)
Norfolk
Great Yarmouth Corporation Tramways (defunct)
Norwich Electric Tramways (defunct)
North Yorkshire
Scarborough Tramways Company (defunct)
York Corporation Tramways (defunct)
Northamptonshire
Northampton Corporation Tramways (defunct)
Northampton Street Tramways (defunct)
Northumberland
Tynemouth and District Electric Traction Company (defunct)
Somerset
Taunton Tramway (defunct)
Shropshire
Bridgnorth Cliff Railway (operating)
Staffordshire
Burton and Ashby Light Railway (defunct)
Burton upon Trent Corporation Tramways (defunct)
Walsall Corporation Tramways (defunct)
Suffolk
Ipswich Corporation Tramways (defunct)
Ipswich Tramway (defunct)
Lowestoft Corporation Tramways (defunct)
West Midlands
Birmingham and Aston Tramways Company (defunct)
Birmingham Corporation Tramways (defunct)
City of Birmingham Tramways Company Ltd (defunct)
Coventry Corporation Tramways (defunct)
Dudley and Stourbridge Steam Tramways Company (defunct)
Dudley, Stourbridge and District Electric Traction Company (defunct)
Kinver Light Railway (defunct)
South Staffordshire Tramways Company (defunct)
Wolverhampton Corporation Tramways (defunct)
Wolverhampton District Electric Tramways Company (defunct)
West Sussex
Brighton and Shoreham Tramways (defunct)
West Yorkshire
Halifax Corporation Tramways (defunct)
Wiltshire
Swindon Corporation Tramways (defunct)
Worcestershire
Kidderminster and Stourport Electric Tramway Company (defunct)
Worcester Electric Traction Company (defunct)
Scotland
Cruden Bay Hotel Tramway (defunct)
Dunfermline and District Tramways (defunct)
Kirkcaldy Corporation Tramways (defunct)
Perth and District Tramways (defunct)
Perth Corporation Tramways (defunct)
Rothesay and Ettrick Bay Light Railway (defunct)
Wemyss and District Tramways Company (defunct)
Wales
Aberdare Urban District Council Tramways (defunct)
Bryn Oer Tramway (defunct)
Great Orme Tramway (operating)
Hay Railway (defunct)
Kington Tramway (defunct)
Llandudno and Colwyn Bay Electric Railway (defunct)
Merthyr Tydfil Electric Tramways (defunct)
Monmouth Railway (defunct)
Nantlle Railway (defunct)
Newport Corporation Tramways (defunct)
Pontypridd and Rhondda Valley Tramway (defunct)
Pontypridd Urban District Council Tramways (defunct)
Poole and District Electric Tramways (defunct)
Pwllheli and Llanbedrog Tramway (defunct)
Swansea Constitution Hill Incline Tramway (defunct)
Wrexham and District Electric Tramways (defunct)
 

denis jinks

New Member
Can anyone shed some light on the subject of points controls which were in situ on the N0. 2/78/79 trams Gravelly Hill junction?
were they manual? electrical? or magic?? I know there was a Bundy clock, but cant remember the drivers getting off to change the points, Thanks.
 

oldMohawk

master brummie

oldMohawk

master brummie
If you have a look at the tram film in post#449 in the Electric Trams thread about 1h 3mins into the film there are pics of the automatic points changing in operation with a commentary explanation. A screen grab from the film below.
Points.JPG
 

Heartland

master brummie
When discussing tram gauge, of the past, there is a slight difference in gauge between tramway and railway. This is clear when Glasgow is looked at. For standard gauge wagons to travel along a length of Glasgow tram network, the gauge of the Glasgow tram rails was a less, something like 4ft 7 1/2 in- that is TRAM gauge!

With the Midland Metro this was made to Standard Gauge and standard gauge contractors locomotives were used in the construction.
 

Lloyd

master brummie
When discussing tram gauge, of the past, there is a slight difference in gauge between tramway and railway. This is clear when Glasgow is looked at. For standard gauge wagons to travel along a length of Glasgow tram network, the gauge of the Glasgow tram rails was a less, something like 4ft 7 1/2 in- that is TRAM gauge!

With the Midland Metro this was made to Standard Gauge and standard gauge contractors locomotives were used in the construction.
The railway wagons had wider wheels and deeper flanges than trams, so the gauge was such that their flanges fitted into the groove in the track.

Govan High Street in 1958-59. 1940 EE/Dick Kerr electric loco [works No.1131] heads along Govan High Street with two wagons from Govan Goods Yard to Fairfield Shipyard. Originally built to run on the Glasgow tramway tracks but by this time the loco had been converted to run on the trolleybus type wires after the trams ceased in 1958. The locos had their own centre overhead wires to allow the trolleybuses or the trains to overtake one another. Quite an amazing system! The trains ceased to run in September 1966 but the loco is preserved at the SRPS base at Bo'ness. Photo: Ivan Stewart Collection.

govan3.jpggovan3.jpggovan.jpg
 
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