City of Birmingham Tramways



Owner City of Birmingham Tramways Co Ltd
Took over 29th September 1896 (Birmingham Central Tramways Co Ltd [horse; steam; cable])
Operator
City of Birmingham Tramways Co Ltd (lines were mostly leased from Birmingham Corporation)
First electric service 14th May 1901
Taken over (ownership)
June 1902 (controlling interest gained by British Electric Traction Company Ltd)
Took over (operation) 1st January 1904 (Aston Manor UDC lines) - formerly worked by Aston Manor UDC
Ownership transferred 1st July 1904 (to Birmingham and Midland Tramways Ltd - another BET-owned entity) and administered by the newly formed Birmingham and Midland Tramways Joint Committee
Took over (operation) 19th September 1904 (newly electrified Aston Manor UDC lines) - formerly steam worked by the Birmingham and Aston Tramways
Taken over (operation) 1st January 1907 (Birmingham Corporation) - majority of lines following expiry of leases
Taken over 1st January 1912 (Birmingham Corporation) - remaining assets, including Handsworth cable trams
Length 36.65 miles
Gauge 3ft 6ins; 4ft 8½ins

Button description (pre 1904) Pattern unknown

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

Comment The pattern of button worn prior to the BETCo take-over and subequent working by the Birmingham and Midland Tramways Joint Committee is currently unknown. A potential candidate for the button worn during this period is the script-lettering 'CBT' button shown; however, there is absolutely no documentary or photographic evidence to support this attribution, so it must remain for now speculative.

BETCo had a common approach to all its subsidiaries (with the exception of its London operations), so staff working the electric services (from 1903/4 onwards) would probably have worn the standard BETCo 'Magnet and Wheel' button. Photographs taken prior to the BETCo take-over (see link) indicate that staff 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. CBTCo buttons have yet come to light, suggesting that if they do exist, they were either unmarked, or that they are not readily identifiable as an issue of the company (i.e they used a company monogram or initials).

The history of BETCo-owned tramways in the Black Country is a complex one. BETCo essentially started by purchasing shares in Birmingham and Midland Tramways Ltd (steam) and then rapidly expanded their influence by gaining control of several other key tramways. On 1st July 1904, BETCo transferred its shares in these other companies to the Birmingham and Midland Tramways Co Ltd, a company which it directly controlled. The six systems were from then on operated by the Birmingham and Midland Tramways Joint Committee, which comprised board members of 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)
- 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) - ffrom October 1915
- Kinver Light Railway (owned by the DSDET)
- South Staffordshire Tramways (via the South Staffordshire Tramways [Lessee] Company Limited)
- Wolverhampton District Electric Tramways (via Wolverhampton District Electric Tramways Ltd)

The B&MTJC worked both in conjunction, as well as in competition with, its many local authorities, many of whom had their own ambitions. This was ultimately to cause the downfall of the Committee, with its last lines being handed over to Walsall Corporation in 1930.