City of Birmingham Tramways Co. Ltd.

1896-1911


The City of Birmingham Tramways Company Ltd was formed on the 29th September 1896 to take over the assets of the Birmingham Central Tramways Company, with the intention of converting the whole system to overhead electric traction. It was anticipated that the approval of Birmingham Corporation would be forthcoming, however negotiations broke down on the 7th June 1898 without agreement. Nevertheless the conversion went ahead.

On the 14th May 1901 the battery-electric cars on the Bristol Road route were replaced by overhead electric traction, the initial service being operated by Nos. 151-165, open-top double-deckers from the Electric Railway, Tramway and Carriage Works of Preston.

In June 1902, control of the Company passed to the BET, who began negotiations with the surrounding authorities in consequence of Birmingham’s decision (reached on 7th March 1899) to work all the tramways in the city themselves. The BET maintained that if this came to fruition then it would be necessary to change cars every time one reached the boundary and through running could only be guaranteed if the BET were in control of all the tramways. In 1903 they promoted a Bill, which would have given them compulsory running powers over Birmingham Corporation track. The Corporation, however, realising that through running was required were prepared to come to some agreement, but argued against compulsion – and the Bill was defeated.

On the 9th June 1903 the Company was granted a 21-year lease of the tracks of the former Birmingham and Aston Tramways Company by Aston Manor UDC, and cars 189-216, delivered in 1903 and 1904 in a crimson and cream livery, actually carried the coat of arms of Aston Manor UDC on the sides, even though they were owned by the Company. Services commenced on 19th September 1904, when the first car in Aston ran between Aston Church and Steelhouse Lane, Birmingham (by arrangement with Birmingham Corporation). Further routes in Aston were opened on 27th October 1904 (Victoria Road to Six Ways) and 14th November 1904 (Aston Cross to Gravelly Hill – extended to Erdington on 22nd April 1907).

However, most of the Company’s leases in Birmingham expired on the 31st December 1906 (which was also the last day of steam operation in Birmingham), and, on the 30th June 1911, the Company’s lease on the routes to Cotteridge via Pershore Road, Selly Oak via Bristol Road and the cable tramway to Handsworth, expired. The remaining services passed to Birmingham Corporation on the 30th December 1911, along with 61 electric cars, leaving the way clear for the Corporation to unify and expand the tramway system.

FLEET SUMMARY

Horse Drawn Cars

Year

Fleet No.

Type

Builder

Seating


1884

1-10

Double-deck
Open-top
4-wheel

Falcon

20/18

Nos. 1-10 ex-Birmingham Central Tramways Co. Ltd. (Nos. 1-10, new 1884) in 1896.
Withdrawn 1906 (1-10).

Steam Locos

Year

Fleet No.

Builder


1896

1-14

Kitson

 

15-26

Kitson

 

27-34

Falcon

 

35-36

Kitson

 

37-50

Falcon

 

51-56

Falcon

 

58-70

Beyer Peacock

 

71-72

Kitson

 

73-82

Kitson

1898

83-90

Kitson

1898

57

Kitson

1898

60

Kitson

1899

61-62

Kitson

1904

91-92

Kitson

1904

93

Birmingham & Midland Tramways

1904

94-95

Kitson

1904

96-97

Birmingham & Midland Tramways

Nos. 1-56, 58-82 ex-Birmingham Central Tramways Co. Ltd. (Nos. 1-56, 58-82, new 1884 (1-14), 1885 (15-50), 1886 (51-56, 58-70), 1893 (71-72), 1894 (73-82)), in 1896.
Nos. 91-92 ex-Birmingham & Aston Tramways Co. Ltd. (Nos. 22-23, new 1886), in 1904.
Nos. 93-97 ex-Birmingham & Midland Tramways Co. Ltd. (Nos. 13, 29, 30, 27, 28 respectively, new 1899, 1896, 1895, 1899 and 1900 respectively), in 1904.
Withdrawn 1898 (60-62 [ex-Birmingham Central Beyer Peacock locos]), by 1907 (1-97; all scrapped – except 85, 86, 89, 90, 96, 97 which were retained for shunting cable cars until 1911).

Trailer Cars

Year

Fleet No.

Type

Builder

Seating


1884

11-23

Double-deck
Canopy-top
bogie

Falcon

28/26

1885

24-45

Double-deck
Canopy-top
bogie

Falcon

28/26

1885

46-54

Double-deck
Canopy-top
bogie

Falcon

30/30

1886

55-74

Double-deck
Canopy-top
bogie

Falcon

30/30

1899

125-130

Double-deck
Canopy-top
bogie

Midland

34/36

1900

131-136

Double-deck
Canopy-top
bogie

City of Birmingham Tramways

34/36

Nos. 11-74 ex-Birmingham Central Tramways Co. Ltd. (Nos. 11-74, new 1884 (11-23), 1885 (24-54), 1886 (55-74)), in 1896.
Nos. 125-136 were single-ended.
(Nos. 137-140 were to have been similar to 131-136 but were never built).
Withdrawn by 1907 (11-74, 125-136).

Cable Cars

Year

Fleet No.

Type

Builder

Seating


1888

75-94

Double-deck
Open-top
bogie

Falcon

24/20

1889

95-100

Double-deck
Open-top
bogie

Metropolitan

24/20

1895

113-118

Double-deck
Open-top
bogie

Falcon

24/20

1898

119-124

Double-deck
Open-top
bogie

Metropolitan

24/20

1900

141-150

Single-deck
Toastrack
bogie

City of Birmingham Tramways

40

1902

172-177

Double-deck
Open-top
bogie

City of Birmingham Tramways

24/20

Nos. 75-100, 113-118 ex-Birmingham Central Tramways Co. Ltd. (Nos. 75-100, 113-118, new 1888 (75-94), 1889 (95-100), 1895 (113-118)), in 1896.
Nos. 141-150 rebuilt as electric cars in 1905.
Withdrawn 1905 (141-150), 1911 (75-100, 113-124, 172-177).

Battery Electric Cars

Year

Fleet No.

Type

Builder

Seating


1890

101-112

Double-deck
Open-top
bogie

Falcon

24/24

Nos. 101-112 ex-Birmingham Central Tramways Co. Ltd. (Nos. 101-112, new 1890), in 1896.
Withdrawn 1901 (101-112).

Overhead Electric Cars

Year

Fleet No.

Type

Trucks

Builder

Seating


1901

151-165

Double-deck
Open-top
4-wheel

Peckham 9A

ERTCW

24/21

1901

166-168

Double-deck
Open-top
4-wheel

Peckham 9A

City of Birmingham Tramways

24/21

1902

169-171

Double-deck
Open-top
4-wheel

Peckham 9A

City of Birmingham Tramways

24/21

1903

178-180

Double-deck
Open-top
bogie

Brush D

City of Birmingham Tramways

34/28

1904

181-188

Double-deck
Open-top
bogie

Brush D

Brush

29/26

1904

189-192

Double-deck
Open-top
4-wheel

Brush A

Brush

28/22

1904

193-208

Double-deck
Open-top
4-wheel

Brush A

Brush

26/22

1904

209-216

Double-deck
Open-top
4-wheel

Brush L&C Radial

City of Birmingham Tramways

26/22

1904

217-238

Double-deck
Open-top
4-wheel

Brush L&C Radial

Brush

26/22

1904

239-242

Double-deck
Open-top
4-wheel

Brush A

City of Birmingham Tramways

26/22

1905

243-256

Double-deck
Open-top
4-wheel

Brush L&C Radial

Brush

26/22

1905

257-262

Single-deck
Toastrack
4-wheel

Brush L&C Radial

City of Birmingham Tramways

40

Nos. 151-171, 178-192 had reversed staircases.
Nos. 193-256 had direct staircases.
Nos. 181-188 re-trucked with 4-wheel Brush L&C radial trucks in 1904.
Nos. 189-192 ex-Sheerness & District (Nos. 9-12, new 1903) in 1904.
Nos. 193-208 re-trucked with Brush 8ft flexible wheelbase trucks in 1909-10.
Nos. 257-262 rebuilt from withdrawn cable cars Nos. 141-150; to Dudley & Stourbridge Tramways Co. (re-numbered 63-68) in 1912.
Nos. 152, 154, 156, 158, 160, 162, 164, 166, 168, 170, 178, 180, 181-188, 193-208, 212-214, 220, 222-227, 229, 231, 233-234, 236-242, 246, 247, 249, 251 to Birmingham Corporation Tramways in 1912 (re-numbered (502-511, 451-452, 473-480, 453-468, 481-497, 469-472, 498-501 respectively).
The remaining cars were distributed by the BET to other subsidiaries (including at least 23 to the South Staffordshire Tramways and 4 to Devonport & District).


In preparing this history reference has been made to the following sources;
The Directory of British Tramways (Keith Turner, PSL 1996); PSV Circle Fleet History 2PD2 (1979).

 


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