South Staffordshire Tramways (Lessee) Co. Ltd. (South Staffordshire & Birmingham District Steam Tramways Co. Ltd.) 1883-1924

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Constructed to a 3ft 6ins gauge and authorised by the Staffordshire Tramways Order of 1879, this steam tramway was worked by the South Staffordshire & Birmingham District Steam Tramways Company (incorporated on the 28th March 1882).

The first section of track between Handsworth (New Inns) and Darlaston, via West Bromwich and Wednesbury (where the Company’s Kings Hill depot was situated) opened on the 16th July 1883.

The initial rolling stock consisted of 21 tram locos from Wilkinson, Beyer Peacock and Thomas Green (Nos. 1-21) and 28 double-deck trailer cars from Starbuck and Falcon (Nos. 1-28), liveried in oak brown with cream relief on the trailer cars.

Further lines opened over the next two years – West Bromwich (Carter’s Green) to Great Bridge (14th January 1884); Wednesbury to Dudley, via Tipton, and Darlaston to Moxey (both 21st January 1884); Wednesbury to Bloxwich, via Pleck and Walsall, Darlaston to Pleck, and an extension from Walsall to Mellish Road (all opened 4th December 1884); Great Bridge to Dudley (12th October 1885) and finally to complete the system a short extension at Bloxwich opened on the 21st November 1885.

On the 26th August 1889 the company changed its name to the much shorter South Staffordshire Tramways Co. Ltd. and was considering electrifying the system.

By the end of 1892 the routes from Walsall to Bloxwich and from Darlaston to Mellish Road via Walsall had been converted to electric traction and opened on the 1st January 1893.

On the 11th June 1899 the electric lines were sold to the BET and transferred to a new Company – the South Staffordshire Tramways (Lessee) Co. Ltd. when it was officially registered on the 31st July 1899.

The new Company also negotiated a lease on the remaining steam lines of the South Staffordshire Company, which took effect from the 1st February 1900, although the actual date of take-over was 23rd June 1900.

Walsall Corporation purchased the track within their boundaries on the 1st January 1901 and leased them back to the Company until 31st December 1903, by which time they were operating their own tramcars.

The Company tramcars continued to operate to the boundary at Pleck, where through passengers had to change cars.

This proved unpopular and on 1st May 1907 through working was agreed and Corporation and Company cars jointly operated the routes from Wednesbury, and from Darlaston, to Walsall.

West Bromwich Corporation also purchased the tracks within their boundaries on the 31st January 1902, converting them for electric traction and leasing them back to the Company for 21 years.

The Company were also leased the tracks purchased by Wednesbury and Handsworth Councils and also obtained a 30 year lease when Dudley purchased the tracks in 1909.

On the 20th December 1902 the Handsworth to Carter’s Green section opened for electric traction; followed by the Carter’s Green to Great Bridge section on 24th January 1903; the Carter’s Green to Hill Top section on 19th February 1903; Hill Top to Wednesbury opened on the 10th April 1903; Darlaston to Moxley section on 23rd April 1903 (although this was worked by the Wolverhampton & District Company as part of their Bilston to Darlaston route); Great Bridge to Dudley Station on the 30th May 1903 and Wednesbury to the White Horse section on 8th October 1903.

The last steam tram ran on the 15th June 1904. The final section between Wednesbury and Dudley opened on the 22nd January 1907.

A through service between Colmore Row in Birmingham to Darlaston, via Handsworth, West Bromwich and Wednesbury commenced on the 9th October 1912 and extended to Bilston (over the tracks of the Wolverhampton & District Company) on the 26th May 1923.

FLEET SUMMARY

Steam Locos

YearFleet No.Builder
18831-2Wilkinson
18833-12Beyer Peacock
188313-16Green
188317-21Wilkinson
188422-29Beyer Peacock
188430-37Green
188538Falcon

No. 38 ex-Hartlepools Steam Tramways Co. Ltd. (one of Nos. 1-3, new 1884).
Withdrawn 1885 (37), 1887 (38), by 1904 (1-2, 4, 12, 15-21, 30-36), 1904 (3, 5-11, 13, 14, 22-29; all scrapped).

Trailer Cars

YearFleet No.TypeBuilderSeating
18831-12Double-deck
Canopy-top
bogie
Starbuck??/??
188313-24Double-deck
Canopy-top
bogie
Falcon??/??
188425-34Double-deck
Canopy-top
bogie
Falcon??/??

Withdrawn by 1904 (2-3, 5-6, 13-18, 20-21, 23, 25-26, 29, 32), 1904 (1, 4, 7-12, 19, 22, 24, 27-28, 30-31, 33-34).

Electric Cars

YearFleet No.TypeTrucksBuilderSeating
189240-47Double-deck
Open-top
4-wheel
?Brown Marshall??/??
189248-55Double-deck
Open-top
4-wheel
?Lancaster Carriage & Wagon??/??
19011-4Double-deck
Open-top
4-wheel
Brill 21EERTCW22/22
19015-9Double-deck
Open-top
4-wheel
Brill 21EERTCW22/22
190210-27Double-deck
Open-top
bogie
BrushBrush36/34
190328-30Double-deck
Open-top
4-wheel
Brush ABrush26/22
19113Double-deck
Top-covered
4-wheel
Brill 21EERTCW26/22
191131Double-deck
Open-top
4-wheel
Brush L&C RadialBrush26/22
191132-33Double-deck
Top-covered
4-wheel
Brill 21EERTCW26/22
191134Double-deck
Open-top
4-wheel
Brush L&C RadialBrush26/22
191135Double-deck
Top-covered
4-wheel
Brill 21EERTCW26/22
191136-37Double-deck
Open-top
4-wheel
Brush L&C RadialBrush26/22
191138Double-deck
Top-covered
4-wheel
Brill 21EERTCW26/22
191139-51Double-deck
Open-top
4-wheel
Brush L&C RadialBrush26/22
191148Double-deck
Open-top
4-wheel
Brush AERTCW26/22
191153-56Double-deck
Open-top
4-wheel
Brush AERTCW26/22
191116Double-deck
Open-top
bogie
BrushCity of Birmingham Tramways34/28
Various Dates??-??Double-deck
Open-top
4-wheel
Brush ABrush26/22
191657-60Double-deck
Open-top
bogie
BrushBrush36/34

Brown Marshall & Co. Ltd. was a Birmingham builder, later became the Metropolitan Railway Carriage and Wagon Co. Ltd (and later still Metro-Cammell).
Nos. 1-4 (of 1901) had direct staircases; later fitted with canopy top-covers.
Nos. 5-9 had reversed staircases.
Nos. 10-27 had reversed staircases; some cars from this batch were later cut down to single-deck.
No. 16 (of 1911) ex-City of Birmingham Tramways (No. 179, new 1903); this car had a reversed staircase.
Nos. 28-30 had reversed staircases.
Nos. 3, 32-33, 35-38 ex-Dudley, Stourbridge & District Electric Traction Co. Ltd. (from Nos. 23-38 batch, new 1901).
Nos. 31, 34, 36-37, 39-51 ex-City of Birmingham Tramways Co. Ltd (from the 193-256 series, new 1904 or 1905) OR ex-Birmingham and Midland Tramways Co. Ltd. (from the 13-50 batch, new 1904) exact details unknown; No. 48 later re-numbered 52; these cars had direct staircases.
Nos. 48, 53-56 ex-City of Birmingham Tramways Co. Ltd. (from 151-171 series, new 1901 or 1902); these cars had reversed staircases.
Nos. 57-60 ex-Wolverhampton & District Electric Tramways Co. Ltd. (from the 14-30 batch, new 1902); these cars had reversed staircases.
The unknown cars were ex-Birmingham and Midland Tramways Co. Ltd. (from the 1-12 batch, new 1904) and were allocated numbers of withdrawn or transferred cars. They were transferred to the Company at various dates; total number not known.
Withdrawn by 1908 (40-55), by 1911 (3 (of 1901), 16 (of 1902)), remainder unknown.


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).