Birmingham District Power & Traction Co. Ltd.
(Birmingham & Midland Tramways Ltd.)

1885-1928


Constructed by the Birmingham and Western Districts Tramways Company Ltd, under the Birmingham and Western Districts Tramways Order of 1881, this 3ft 6ins gauge steam tramway was operated by the newly formed (22nd November 1883) Birmingham & Midland Tramways Ltd. The tramway was originally planned to run from Kings Heath through the city (although Birmingham did not become a city until 1889, for convenience it is always referred to as such) and along Dudley Road to Oldbury and Dudley, and, including a number of proposed branch lines, would have been around 28 route miles. In the event just over 12 miles were constructed. The mainly single-track route was from Birmingham (Summer Row) along Dudley Road to Smethwick, Oldbury, Tividale and Dudley, with two branch lines serving West Bromwich (from West Smethwick via Spon Lane, and from Oldbury via Bromford Lane).

Services commenced on the 6th July 1885 on the section of track from Summer Row to the city boundary (which had been constructed by Birmingham Corporation), and was on lease until 30th June 1906), and the through service to Dudley commenced on 30th August 1885.

The initial fleet consisted of 12 (Nos. 1-12) Kitson tram locos towing Oldbury trailer cars (Nos. 1-16) in a dark green and cream livery, operating from a depot in West Smethwick.

The tramway was not a financial success and services on the branch lines to West Bromwich ceased in 1892. However, they were re-opened in May 1893 and operated under lease by Mr. B. Crowther (reportedly a local undertaker), with two of his own single-deck horse cars and two Company-owned Metropolitan single-deckers (Nos. 23-24), until electrification in 1903.

The Company came under the control of the BET in February 1900, who intended to electrify the system, leases being obtained from the local authorities involved. The first lines to be electrified were the branch lines into West Bromwich, along Spon Lane and Bromford Lane, which opened on 3rd November 1903 and were worked temporarily by South Staffordshire company cars, no electric cars having yet being delivered to the Birmingham and Midland company.

The Birmingham to Dudley route was opened to electric cars on 19th November 1904, along with a new branch line from Cape Hill along Bearwood Road to Bearwood. On the 31st December 1904, another branch along Heath Street to the city boundary was opened (this had actually been constructed by the Birmingham and Western Districts Tramways Company in 1886, but had lain unused until now) and extended to Soho Station in Smethwick on the 25th May 1905.

The lease of all the lines within the city of Birmingham expired on 30th June 1906, and all short workings within the city passed to Birmingham Corporation, although the Company continued to work the through service to Dudley and the branch lines to West Bromwich.

On the 13th August 1912 the name of the Company was changed to the Birmingham District Power and Traction Co. Ltd.

From 1st April 1928, Birmingham Corporation took over the main line through to Dudley and working of the West Bromwich branches were transferred to the Dudley, Stourbridge & District Electric Traction Company. As a result, the Birmingham District Power and Traction Company ceased to be a tramway operator, although the Company itself continued in existence, changing its name to the Birmingham and District Investments Trust Ltd the following year.

FLEET SUMMARY

Horse Cars

Year

Fleet Nos.

Type

Builder

Seating


1893

23-24

Single-deck
4-wheel

Metropolitan

?

Leased to B. Crowther for use in maintaining the West Bromwich branch lines from 1893 until electrification in 1903.
Withdrawn 1903.

Steam Locos

Year

Fleet No.

Builder


1885

1-12

Kitson

1885

13

Green

1886

14-19

Kitson

1886

20-24

Green

1897

25

Birmingham & Midland Tramways

1898

26

Birmingham & Midland Tramways

1899

27

Birmingham & Midland Tramways

1900

28

Birmingham & Midland Tramways

1900

1

Kitson

1900

10

Kitson

1900

29-34

Kitson

No. 13 rebuilt by the Company to Kitson design in 1899.
Nos. 22 and 24 rebuilt by the Company to Kitson design in 1897 and 1898 respectively.
Nos. 25-28 were to Kitson design.
Nos. 1, 10, 29-34 (of 1900) ex-Dudley & Stourbridge Steam Tramways Co. Ltd (Nos. 2, 10, 12, 11, 5, 9, 8, 1 respectively, new 1884, 1891, 1896, 1895, 1884, 1885, 1884, 1884 respectively).
Nos. 13, 29, 30, 27, 28 transferred to City of Birmingham Tramways in 1904 (re-numbered 93-97 respectively).
Withdrawn by 1900 (1 and 10 (of 1885)), 1904 (1-34; all scrapped except as above).

Trailer Cars

Year

Fleet No.

Type

Builder

Seating


1885

1-16

Double-deck
Canopy-top
bogie

Oldbury

30/30

1886

17-22

Double-deck
Canopy-top
bogie

Starbuck

32/30

1897

25

Double-deck
Canopy-top
bogie

Birmingham & Midland Tramways

32/30

1898

26

Double-deck
Canopy-top
bogie

Birmingham & Midland Tramways

32/30

1899

27

Double-deck
Canopy-top
bogie

Birmingham & Midland Tramways

32/30

1900

28-32

Double-deck
Canopy-top
bogie

Starbuck

32/30

Nos. 2, 3, 6 and 11 used to build Nos. 25-27 in 1897-1899, single-ended with glazed balconies.
Nos. 28-32 ex-Dudley and Stourbridge Steam Tramways Company (fleet numbers unknown, but from batch of eight (Nos. 1-8), new 1884).
Withdrawn by 1899 (2, 3, 6, 11), 1904 (1, 4-5, 7-10, 12-22, 25-32; all scrapped).

Electric Cars

Year

Fleet No.

Type

Trucks

Builder

Seating


1904

1-12

Double-deck
Bellamy-top
4-wheel

Brush AA

Brush

26/22

1904

13-50

Double-deck
Open-top
4-wheel

Brush L&C Radial

Brush

26/22

1904

51-60

Single-deck
Combination
4-wheel

Brush L&C Radial

City of Birmingham Tramways

34
(6+22+6)

1915

51-52

Single-deck
Combination
4-wheel

Birmingham & Midland JTC

Birmingham & Midland JTC

22
(16+6)

1925

61-62

Single-deck
Combination
4-wheel

Brush L&C Radial

City of Birmingham Tramways

34
(6+22+6)

Nos. 1-12 had top covers removed at unknown dates; they had direct staircases.
Nos. 13-50 were top-covered at an unknown date; they had direct staircases.
Nos. 51-52 (of 1904) to Dudley, Stourbridge & District Electric Traction Company in 1910 (re-numbered 61-62).
Nos. 61-62 ex-Dudley, Stourbridge & District Electric Traction Company (Nos. 61-62, originally Birmingham & Midland Nos. 51-52 of 1904).
Withdrawals and disposals unknown; (two of Nos. 1-50 were transferred to Wolverhampton District Electric Traction Co. Ltd. c. 1914 and c.1923).


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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