City of Birmingham Tramways



Owner City of Birmingham Tramways Company Ltd
Took over 29th September 1896 (Birmingham Central Tramways Company Ltd [horse; steam; cable; battery electric])
Operator
City of Birmingham Tramways Company Ltd (the majority of lines being leased from Birmingham Corporation)
Last battery electric service 13th May 1901 (on the corporation-owned Bristol Rd route)
First overhead electric service 14th May 1901 (Bristol Rd route)
Taken over (company)
June 1902 (controlling interest gained by the British Electric Traction Company Ltd)
Took over (operation) 1st January 1904 (former Birmingham and Aston Tramways Company lines, previously worked by Aston Manor UDC)
Taken over (operation) 4th January 1904 (Birmingham Corporation) - former Birmingham and Aston Tramways Company lines within Birmingham, worked for a few days, by the CofBTCo
Ownership transferred 1st July 1904 (to Birmingham and Midland Tramways Ltd - another local BETCo subsidiary) and administered by the newly formed Birmingham and Midland Tramways Joint Committee
Took over (operation) 19th September 1904 (newly electrified Aston Manor UDC line)
Last horse service 30th September 1906
Taken over (lines) 22nd December 1906 (Birmingham Corporation) - CofBTCo-owned tracks in Balsall Heath, the latter having been incorporated into Birmingham in 1891
Last steam service 31st December 1906
Taken over (operation) 1st January 1907 (Birmingham Corporation) - majority of lines following expiry of leases
Last cable service 30th June 1911
Taken over 1st January 1912 (Birmingham Corporation) - remaining assets and leases (outside Birmingham)
Length 36.65 miles
Gauge 3ft 6ins

Button description (pre 1904) Script initials, ‘CBT’.

Button description (c1904 onwards)
Wheel, magnet and electrical flashes
Materials known Brass; chrome; black horn
Button Line reference [113/16]

Comment Photographs taken prior to the BETCo take-over (see link) suggest that conductors working the horse, steam and cable services wore informal attire, whereas staff working the newly introduced electric services (from 1901) appear to have been issued with uniforms. A potential candidate for the button worn during this short period is the script-lettering 'CBT' button shown; however, there is currently no documentary or photographic evidence to support this attribution. The British Electric Traction Company had a common approach to all its subsidiaries, so staff working the electric services would have worn the standard BETCo 'Magnet and Wheel' button. Photographs suggest that horse, cable and steam-tram conductors were also eventually provided with BETCo uniforms, as were cable-tram drivers.

The history of BETCo-owned tramways in the Black Country is a complex one. The BETCo essentially started by purchasing shares in several local tramways (Dudley and Wolverhampton Tramways; Dudley and Stourbridge Steam Tramways; and South Staffordshire Tramways) in 1897, then rapidly expanded its influence by gaining control of several other tramways. On the 1st July 1904, the BETCo transferred its shares in these companies to the Birmingham and Midland Tramways Co Ltd, a company which it directly controlled. The six tramways (later seven) were thereafter managed as a single concern, by the Birmingham and Midland Tramways Joint Committee (from October 1915, the Birmingham and Midland Joint Committee of Electricity, Tramways and Motor Omnibus Undertakings), which comprised board members from the individual concerns:

- Birmingham and Midland Tramways (via the Birmingham and Midland Tramways Co Ltd)
- City of Birmingham Tramways (via the City of Birmingham Tramways Co Ltd) - until 1912
- Dudley, Stourbridge and District Electric Tramways (via the Dudley, Stourbridge and District Electric Traction Co Ltd)
- Kidderminster and Stourport Electric Tramway (via Kidderminster and District Electric Light and Traction Co Ltd) - from October 1915
- Kinver Light Railway (owned by the DS&DETCo)
- South Staffordshire Tramways (primarily via the South Staffordshire Tramways [Lessee] Company Limited)
- Wolverhampton District Electric Tramways (via Wolverhampton District Electric Tramways Ltd)

The B&MTJC worked in partnership with many local authorities, some of which owned the tramway lines within their municipal boundaries, but leased them to one of the B&MTJC's constituent tramway companies. Many of these authorities harboured transport ambitions of their own, which were ultimately to be the downfall of the B&MTJC's tramways, the last of its services being taken over by Walsall Corporation in 1930.