Notes for Trams - Bristol Road

Kindly provided by Peter Walker

829 at Pebble Mill Road
Before the Bristol Road and Pershore Road trams were replaced by buses on Saturday 5 July 1952, traffic had grown, and there were problems in housing all the cars in the two depots at Selly Oak and Cotteridge depots. As a result, the turning loop at Rednal was used for overnight  parking. But as the depots were to be converted for bus operation, it was necessary to park them in the open.
The first view shows one of three facing crossovers at the Pershore Road end of Pebble Mill Road inserted in August 1951, and the automatic signalling system, actuated by contacts on the overhead wire, which permitted single-track operation at off-peak periods on the outbound track, while surplus cars were stored on the inbound track. This involved some adaptation of the overhead wires, which is apparent in the picture, so that the inbound wire was moved off-centre, to reduce the angle at which the trolley pole had to reach to keep contact, while a third wire was added (far left) to enable parked cars to move off inbound. The stop line post can also be seen.

Over the final weekend, all the cars in both depots were moved either to Kyotts Lake Road works or Witton depot for dismantling, or to both tracks on Pebble Mill Road, and a section of the reserved track on Bristol Road from Pebble Mill Road to Eastern Road was used to house the surplus cars until there was room for them at Witton, the last car, No 513, making its final journey to Witton for breaking up on 23 July.

Pebble Mill Road was the first in Birmingham to rebuilt as a dual carriageway with centre tramway reservation, being formally opened on 15 October 1919. It was intended by the City Engineer, Herbert (later Sir) Humphreys as the prototype for future road development, and many parts of Bristol Road were laid out in this fashion.

Car 836 at Pebble Mill Road
This view is taken from the Bristol Road end, showing the inbound crossover, and also an extra overhead pole which had been installed in August 1951.

Car 518 at Selly Oak
This view shows two outbound cars, the first of which is passing under the low railway bridge which prevented the oldest, higher, cars from working on this route. The contact wire is little higher than the roof of the car, and the trolley pole is pulled several feet to the left of the car, so that bow collector operation was quite impossible.

Car 786 in Chapel Lane, Selly Oak
This view shows the single-track connection from the Bristol Road routes to the depot in Harborne Lane. The tram is one of the Brush-bodied 762-811 batch, originally provided with bow collectors for the Washwood Heath routes. The final 812 - 841 batch had virtually identical bodies built by Short Brothers of Rochester.

Harborne Lane depot
This depot was built in 1927 at a cost of £37 000 (!) to replace the original tram depot in Dawlish Road, Bournbrook, but also to house buses from the first opening. The photo shows the depot on the Friday before the final Saturday of operation. The trams in the photo left the depot to enter service the following morning, never to return, most being driven to Kyotts Lake Road for breaking up.

Car 734 near Manor House
This part of Bristol Road was rebuilt and widened as a dual carriageway with centre tramway reservation in the early 1920s. The line of trees appear older than the tram tracks, and presumably once marked a property boundary.

Car 623 at Longbridge
This view was taken from a slightly higher location on the old railway bridge and shows the long loading shelter for City-bound trams for Austin workers leaving for home. In the evenings, most cars carried the destination 'Longbridge 72' and reversed on a crossover just on the edge of the picture before loading. Also visible are the Lickey Hills in the distance and on the right a rudimentary bus shelter built during World War 2 for Austin workers boarding Midland Red buses to Bromsgrove and a number of villages in that part of Worcestershire.

Rednal terminus
This was first used on 14 April 1924, replacing a shuttle bus service. It was laid out as a showpiece, to cater for the large week-end and bank-holiday crowds returning home after a day in the Lickeys. Normally cars reversed on the stub in the foreground, but at busy times they ran round the loop, where over ten cars could at times be waiting to load. Every tram had the destination 'Rednal 70' on its blind and, apart from some cars which were too high to pass beneath the Selly Oak railway bridge, was liable to be seconded for use on this route on Bank Holidays. Moseley Road, Coventry Road and Highgate Road depots usually provided extra cars.

Rubery Terminus
By contrast, Rubery terminus was a plain stub, although it did have a long and ornate cast-iron shelter which disappeared with the trams. The new bus shelter can be seen on the far right. This excellent photo also shows in some detail the trucks of tram 759, one of the 732 - 761 batch, the first with air brakes, brought into service between September 1926 and March 1927. The strengthened bulkhead plating added a few years previously to stiffen the wooden body is also visible.