Birmingham Tramways and Omnibus Co. Ltd.
(Birmingham & District Tramways Co. Ltd.)

1872-1885


In 1872, the Birmingham and District Tramways Co. Ltd., opened a mainly single-track horse tramway under the authority of the Birmingham and Staffordshire Tramways Act of 1870. Constructed to a gauge of 4ft 8˝ins, it ran between the Birmingham boundary at Hockley Brook to West Bromwich, via Handsworth. At Carter’s Green, to the north of West Bromwich, the tramway branched, with one line serving Hill Top, near Wednesbury, whilst the other branch forked west to Dudley Port, via Great Bridge. The tramway was further served by a number of feeder horse buses.

The initial fleet consisted of twelve open-top double deck cars (Nos. 1-12) by Metropolitan in a crimson and cream livery, housed in a depot at Carter’s Green.

On the 11th September 1873, Birmingham Corporation opened a line from Monmouth Street (later Colmore Row) in the city centre (although Birmingham did not become a city until 1889, for convenience it is always referred to as such) to meet the Birmingham and District line at Hockley Brook. This line travelled via Great Hampton Street and Hockley Hill and on completion was leased to the Company, who purchased another 10 (?) tramcars to work the service.

The line was not a great success and as early as 1873 economy measures saw the closure of the Dudley Port branch, although the following year, on the 23rd November 1874, a shorter branch to Villa Cross via Villa Road was opened. The following year, however, matters had not improved and the Hill Top route was curtailed at Carter’s Green.

On the 24th May 1876, a new Company, the Birmingham Tramways and Omnibus Company was formed to purchase the tramway. On the 17th June 1876, Birmingham Corporation leased the newly built southern extension to the Company. It ran south from the city centre, along Colmore Road, Anne Street, Paradise Street, Suffolk Street and Bristol Road for a distance of 2˝ miles to the city boundary, with a short extension in Bournbrook.

In 1885, the Company’s lease on the Corporation owned sections expired and on 1st January 1886, the Company’s rolling stock and tracks outside the city of Birmingham were purchased by the Birmingham Central Tramways Company, who also took over the lease of the Corporation-owned tracks within the city.

FLEET SUMMARY

Little record of the rolling stock survives, All known details currently to hand are outlined below:

Fleet No

Type

Builder

Seating

1872

1-12

Double-deck
Open-top
4-wheel

Metropolitan Carriage and Wagon Co.

??/??

These cars are recorded as passing to the Birmingham Tramways and Omnibus Company in 1876.

1873

13-22?

Double-deck
Open-top
4-wheel

Metropolitan
or
Starbuck

??/??

These cars are recorded as passing to the Birmingham Tramways and Omnibus Company in 1876.

1876-77?

?-?

Single-deck?

Brown, Marshall & Co.

??

Number of cars unknown (possibly 6?), possibly single-deck.

1878

?-?

Single-deck
Toastrack

Starbuck

??

There were two cars in total.

1880

?-?

Double-deck
Open-top
4-wheel

Falcon

??/??

There were four cars in total. They were of the ‘Eades’ reversible patent design.

Notes: Board of Trade returns show that the number of cars (owned by the Birmingham Tramways and Omnibus Company) after 1876 that were in stock at any one time never exceeded 18. This is the number of cars that were purchased by the Birmingham Central Tramways Co. Ltd., in 1885. The Company also operated a number of horse buses.


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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