Birmingham Corporation Tramways



Owner Birmingham Corporation
Opened 11th September 1873 - Monmouth St (later Colmore Row) to Hockley Brook (4ft 8½ins) [horse]
Operator (lessee) Birmingham and District Tramways Company Ltd
Taken over (lessee) 24th May 1876 (Birmingham Tramways and Omnibus Company Ltd)
Opened 17th June 1876 - Bristol Rd route [horse]
Operator (lessee) Birmingham Tramways and Omnibus Company Ltd
Opened 26th December 1882 - Birmingham to Aston Manor (3ft 6ins) [steam] - the tracks within Birmingham were owned by the corporation, and those within Aston Manor UDC by the company
Operator (lessee) Birmingham and Aston Tramways Company Ltd
Opened 11th November 1884 - Nechells route (3ft 6ins) [horse]
Operator (lessee) Birmingham Central Tramways Company Ltd
Opened 25th November 1884 to 16th January 1886 - Perry Barr, Moseley Rd, Sparkbrook, Lozells, Saltley Rd and Small Heath routes (all 3ft 6ins) [steam]
Operator (lessee) Birmingham Central Tramways Company Ltd
Opened 6th July 1885 - Dudley Rd line from Summer Row to Cape Hill
Operator (lessee) Birmingham and Midland Tramways Ltd
Taken over (lease) 1st January 1886 (Birmingham Central Tramways Company Ltd) - 4ft 8½ins-gauge corporation lines formerly leased to the Birmingham Tramways and Omnibus Company Ltd
Opened 24th March 1888 - Colmore Row to Hockley Brook (3ft 6ins) [cable]
Operator (lessee) Birmingham Central Tramways Company Ltd
Opened 25th October 1886 - new lines in Wheeler St and Great Hampton Row (3ft 6ins) [horse]
Operator (lessee) Birmingham Central Tramways Company Ltd
Taken over (lessee) 29th October 1896 (City of Birmingham Tramways Company Ltd)
First electric route 24th May 1901 - Bristol Rd route
Operator (lessee) City of Birmingham Tramways Company Ltd
Taken over (lessee) June 1902 (controlling interest in the CofBTCo acquired by the British Electric Traction Company Ltd)
Lease transferred 30th June 1902 (from Birmingham and Aston Tramways Company Ltd to Aston Manor UDC) - following purchase of the former by the latter
First corporation-operated electric route 4th January 1904 - former Birmingham and Aston Tramways Company Ltd lines within Birmingham, briefly worked by the CofBTCo
Took over 1st January 1907 (majority of routes formerly leased to the City of Birmingham Tramways Company Ltd [steam; cable; electric])
Took over (operation) 1st July 1911 (Handsworth UDC owned lines) - previously leased to the South Staffordshire Tramways (Lessee) Company Ltd
Took over (ownership) 9th November 1911 (following expansion of the city's boundaries, all lines owned by Aston Manor, Erdington, Handsworth, Kings Norton, Northfield and Yardley)
Operator (lessee) City of Birmingham Tramways Company Ltd
Took over 1st January 1912 (City of Birmingham Tramways Company Ltd - remaining assets and leases outside Birmingham)
Took over 1st April 1924 (operation of West Bromwich Corporation-owned lines previously leased to the Birmingham and Midland Tramways Joint Committee [South Staffordshire Lessee Co], a BETCo subsidiary)
Name changed 18th October 1927 to Birmingham Corporation Tramways and Omnibus Department
Took over 1st April 1928 (Birmingham and Midland Tramways Joint Committee [Birmingham and District Power and Traction Co Ltd] - main line to Dudley)
Name changed 9th November 1937 to Birmingham City Transport
Closed 4th July 1953
Length 80.42 mile
Gauge 3ft 6ins (some early lines 4ft 8½ins)

Button description (Pattern 1) Title (‘BIRMINGHAM CORPORATION TRAMWAYS’) within a border, surrounding the municipal arms (a quartered shield) with an arm crest (holding a hammer), and female (artist) and male (smith) supporters, all above the motto ‘FORWARD’.
Materials known Brass; japanned black; black horn; natural horn
Button Line reference [113/7]

Button description (Pattern 2) Title (‘BIRMINGHAM CITY TRANSPORT’) within a border, surrounding the municipal arms (a quartered shield) with an arm crest (holding a hammer), and female (artist) and male (smith) supporters
Materials known Black horn
Button Line reference [None]

Comments The translucent natural horn buttons were used on light-coloured summer dust jackets (see link). Curiously, no other tramway appears to have used such buttons, though similar buttons were certainly used on summer jackets issued by the Royal Navy and the Royal Mail (thanks to Rex Butler for this information). Examples of the latter two have survived, and bear the mark of ‘James Grove & Son of Halesowen’, who perhaps unsurprisingly, were also the manufacturers of the Birmingham Corporation Tramways buttons.

Unusually, in later years (circa 1930s onwards), the uniform jackets bore black buttons.

Given that the department was renamed in November 1937, uniforms ordered after this date would have borne the Pattern 2 button.