Early chapters set the Victorian scene, with one, ‘Trams & Traps’, telling how the posh lot in Erdington, Birmingham, kept the trams out of the area, having a dislike of unwashed “’Arry’s and ’Arriet’s” descending on their upmarket streets. A typical leaflet stated: “That the Tramway Engines frighten horses … roads are not lighted by gas and, therefore, are unsafe for Tramways”.
Included in this book is a sideways look at some of the problems met with pioneer engines, heavily circumscribed in design as they were by the Board of Trade and there follows a roll call of British locomotive builders (gone now, of course) and including magnificent drawings (many not seen for 100 years) photographs (generally not less than 100 years old, naturally): these firms include Beyer Peacock of Gorton, Manchester; Black Hawthorn, Gateshead; Thomas Green & Son, Leeds (he of the steam lawnmower and around 300 tram engines); Hughes/Falcon/Brush of Loughborough; Kitson of Leeds; Manning Wardle also of Leeds; Merryweather & Sons of Greenwich who not only built fire engines but those for tram use, and Wm. Wilkinson of Wigan with his ‘coffee-pot’ boilers.
Patent rail sections are in one chapter and a look from an apprentice’s eye of how track should be laid and the cold reality of just how the work was carried out.