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Author Topic: Sheerness trams  (Read 10924 times)

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Offline HERB COLLECTOR

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Re: Sheerness trams
« Reply #24 on: March 01, 2017, 21:01:47 »
Sheerness and District Tramways.
http://www.tramwaybadgesandbuttons.com/page148/page152/page251/page251.html
Photos of trams and details of uniforms.

Lofty

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Re: Sheerness trams
« Reply #23 on: April 18, 2012, 20:31:14 »
4

                                                       
    Chapter  2

                               
Making Tracks To Ride 1903
,

Knock! Knock! I awoke with a start, a voice was calling “Mr Long are you awake yet?” It was my landlady, as good as her word to waken me for my first days work with the Sheerness Tramways. I called back that I was awake, “thank you”. I rose quickly, not knowing the exact time, I poured cold water from the jug into the bowl, washed, dressed, and  went down to the kitchen for breakfast.

Mrs Best greeted me with a cheerful  “ good morning”.

A large mug of tea was ready on the table, with slices of bread on the plate, a knife with a black handle and a grey steel blade, a fork with just three prongs, my senses told me what was for breakfast. With a quick flourish from behind me, a plate with a dark brown kipper, complete with head  and tail, was put before me. I ate it with relish, as I had not often  had kippers. As I ate Mrs Best was refilling the milk jug from a wide necked milk bottle with a cardboard disk in the top with the dairyman's name on it, then hanging a piece of cloth with glass beads around it, over the milk jug.

Mrs Best put an  enamel tea can with a lid in the shape of a cup, and a red tin box with OXO written on it, onto the table. “This is for your break. The tea should keep warm for a while. I’m afraid it is only bread and dripping”. I thanked her for her forethought. I had not asked her for it. She seemed a very able landlady.

On arriving at the tram depot, I  met up with the rest of the selected men, some with the same enamel tea can as myself, and a sandwich box of sorts.

The engineer greeted us, “morning men. You can put your tea cans on the stove in the shed over there until later. As a  tram crew you must get used to working in pairs, so pair off as you want”.
I paired off with Mr Mills who I did not know, but as my mothers maiden name was Mills I thought he was the most suitable. “we will go to the trams now. Your  Instructor will be Mr Cowan here. I will leave you in his hands”. He turned and left . Our instructor was a Scotsman who we soon referred to as ‘Scotty’. The furthest set of rails ran into the shed. Number three was to be our tram. Five of us got into the drivers cabin, the others were told to watch from the entrance. A tram is a double ended vehicle identical in every way, so there is no front and no back until the tram moves.

“This” said Scotty, “is the tram’s main  power switch protected by fuses”, pointing to an electrical box fitted to the back of the cabin, near the roof.
“The  main  switch  will  be  turned  on  for  the  accelerator lever to work. This  is the
accelerator lever, it is used by your left hand. Move it slowly to the right, and the tram will move forward. To increase speed move the lever gradually to the right, to stop the tram move the lever back to the left to slow it down, the use the brake lever in your right hand, and the handbrake will stop the tram according to the pressure used. Should you let go of the accelerator, the lever will spring back to the off position cutting off the power, but will not stop the tram”.


“It is the policy of the company to instruct all members of the crews to operate the brake. The conductor could use the brake in the rear cabin in an emergency, if for some reason the driver could not use his brake. A bell is fitted in the driver’s cabin to give warning of the approaching tram. This bell can be used by the conductor to signal to the driver that the tram is safe to move or stop”. We were taken one by one, to take over the driver’s levers and repeat to Scotty how they worked.
He insisted that we say, “power off , brake on”, never “brake on power off”. This would cause the motor to strain against the brake and blow the fuse in the box in the cabin. “If the fuse does blow a spare one is in the box, but the dead fuse must be handed in for exchange by the conductor when paying in the fare monies”.
“All on board .Here we go. Who’s first?”. No one offered.

“Mills you come into the cabin, take hold of the levers, remember you cannot steer a tram, it will go along the track so make sure nothing is in the way, or likely to be, as you go along. Keep your feet apart as the tram will sway, you will be steadier, and in control. Move off now”.
I stood behind Mills. I could see that he was shaking, not knowing what was going to happen. My own thoughts raced, would Mills freeze with the accelerator at full speed  and rush through the town  to the end of the track, down the pier and into the sea?”. I grasped the handrail fixed to the ceiling and thought, “POWER OFF, BRAKE ON!”. Scotty again urged Mills to move, we moved slowly forward taking the bend to the left, click, click, click, we passed over the other three sets of points from the tram sheds, we curved right in front of the new railway station, now named Sheerness East, to join the Halfway Road. Here a level crossing  had its gates shut to road traffic, we would turn right along the rough lane towards  town. “Stop before we reach that post” said Scotty. The tram stopped immediately, ten men were propelled forward into the drivers cabin  “O.K. Windy Mills you can change the fuse”.

We were prevented from going further as men were working to fill the space between the rails. Scotty said  “this was a good time to see how the rails were fitted”.
A steamroller with a trailer van stood to the side of the road bearing the name J G White Contractors. Scotty said that the rails were held to the exact distance apart with a steel tie-bar every six feet, and in-between granite sets were laid with half  an inch around each set for hot tar to fill the gap. We watched as a tar boiler with a firebox at one end and a tall iron chimney belching smoke at the other , was stoked up with coke. The top of the boiler on wheels had its lids lifted and blocks of  bitumen were broken up and then put in  and stirred with an enormous iron ladle. The hot tar  was poured  from a tap in the boiler into cans with spouts that looked like watering cans, and then poured around the  sets granite was not used at the points, because  of the awkward shapes needed, and the frequent renewal of the points, tar blocks were used. These were the same size as a house brick but were made of wood, soaked in tar, used on their side with the grain uppermost, then the blocks were tarred between and over to protect them from wear.

johnabutler

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Re: Sheerness trams
« Reply #22 on: April 18, 2012, 19:55:47 »
Sorry, the regarding the previous post. Of course the Sheerness system stated in 1903!

johnabutler

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Re: Sheerness trams
« Reply #21 on: April 18, 2012, 19:34:11 »
The Siemans system was part of the reason for the Sheerness system's failure. Being of German origin, spares were obviously difficult to get during World War I. It wasn't helped by The Sheppey Light Railway not allowing the tram system access over their track, thus limiting the tramway system mileage to an uneconomic length, in Sheerness town only.
The Sheerness tram system has the dubious distinction of being the shortest-lived (albeit narrow gauge) system in Britain - 1913/1917, but you can understand the Sheppey Light Railway seeking to protect their revenues.

Lofty

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Re: Sheerness trams
« Reply #20 on: April 18, 2012, 17:05:49 »
This is the first page of my book.  I wrote 10 years ago.
 
Sheerness Tramways.
Chapter 1

This  advertisement in a London  newspaper had prompted me to apply, as a new venture would have jobs, even  if not as a driver or conductor. So, on the twenty-fifth of February, nineteen hundred and three, I arrived at the depot, as smartly dressed  as I could, as I had only taken temporary lodgings in a nearby house.

Approaching the two buildings, one with smoke coming from a tall chimney and with a loud whirring sound coming from inside, I noticed  many signs of warning –Keep Clear! Danger Electricity! Overhead Cables!. Wires came from this building on poles above the centre of the new track set in the new road.

I made my way into the other building that had tram lines entering into four bays, with three new trams in each. Their bright maroon and cream paintwork shone in the morning  sunlight. These large vehicles made me think, “had I perhaps raised my sights  too high?”.

A crowd of hopeful men stood around, hushed as if in awe of what seemed to be enormous trams. At eight o’clock a man with a moustache came out from the door marked “Manager” we all faced him expectantly.

“Men”, he said, “I need crews for these magnificent trams, smart men, polite, intelligent men willing to learn to operate a new service, new to Sheerness, where all eyes will be watching you. Please give your names to my clerk, I will select only ten men now as it is not possible to train more at one time”.

A table and two chairs were brought out from the office, the clerk sat at one end of the table, Mr Cutbush  at the other. As a man came forward the clerk put his name on a large piece of paper then passed it on to  Mr Cutbush who asked many questions.

 “ Mr Long why do you want this job?”
“I think that the trams will last for a long time, it could give me employment for many years”.


“Can you ride a bike?”. 
“Yes Sir”.
“Can you drive a pair of  horses  with a cart ?”.
“Yes Sir”.
“What besides the horse,  is the most important  thing?”.
“The brake Sir”.
“Would you feel at ease driving among all the horse drawn carts in the town and near the Docks?”.
“Yes I would Sir”.
“ Are you willing to move to Sheerness immediately?”.
“Yes I have done already Sir”.
“Stand over there with those other two”.
After a while ten of us stood together, we were the first lucky ten.
Mr Cutbush handed us over to the engineer, a precise man who explained the technicality in a simple way. We understood what he told us,  of how the trams worked.

“These trams were built by Brush Electrical Engineers, the tram is twenty seven foot six inches long, by six foot wide, each tram has four thirty six inch diameter wheels that run In a one inch deep groove in the six foot wide track. The saloon seats twenty two passengers on long bench seats along both sides. The outside (or upper deck) seats twenty eight on reversible seats in pairs, which are reached by a staircase at the rear of the tram. The second staircase is in the drivers cabin. Both cabins have the Brush controllers panel to transfer the electricity through the two twenty five horse power motors to move the tram”.
“The power generated in the power station, passes through the overhead wires down the bow collector to the control panel in the drivers cabin. This part of the system is made by the German Manufacturers ‘Siemans’, also the driver has a lever to apply the brake to the wheels, as there is no gradient anywhere on the track, so no hand brakes are fitted, a warning bell is fitted, to sound  the bell the driver stamps on a foot pedal causing a hammer to strike the bell, giving warning of the approaching tram”.
“The Bow collector is on top of the tram, it touches the overhead wires, this is only useable in the trailing position. The drivers controls will only operate with the Bow to the rear. To return a tram, the Bow is reversed, making the other drivers controls functional, disconnecting the former controls in the now vacated cabin, during this changeover no brakes hold the tram, it is held only by the static electric motors”.

“The boarding steps are raised and a chain put across the entrance to what is now the drivers cabin, the conductor changes the Bow collector to the rear, lowers the boarding steps and removes the chain to allow the passengers to board”.
“Meanwhile the driver opens the door to the saloon, passes through to the other cabin, closing the door behind him, the tram is now ready to return”.
“The twelve trams used on the track can only pass in the nine loops, each tram waiting for the oncoming tram to pass into the vacant part of the loop, in peak times such as the morning rush to the docks, all trams will travel in convoy from the depot to the dock gates, near the end of the pier, then a normal service will begin”.

“The track is laid to the north side of the road, that is close to the right on leaving the depot, and close to the right near the dockyard wall in Bluetown, the track is laid to the seaward side of Edward Street, and passes three sides of the new Clock Tower”.

“Extra care is needed in passing the shops, in the High Street as sun blinds project to within a few inches of the tram, when rain falls the groove in the track fills with a mixture of water, ash from the steam lorries, and dung from the horses, this is forced out of the track into the shops  and onto pedestrians causing displeasure and damage. A track sweeper is used full time in the High Street to lessen the possibility of foul water remaining in the groove of the tracks, any complaint from the public having damage done to their clothing will be investigated, and if a driver is at fault he will be disciplined”.

“The tram will rock forward and back as you proceed, it will also sway from side to side as you enter or leave a loop. A slow speed is advised. During the first few days  passengers  unaccustomed to the movement may become sick. Should this happen the conductor  will use sand from the sack found under the staircase as a temporary measure. On return to the depot the sack must be refilled”.

“If you are accepted as a driver, you will be issued with a uniform to be worn at all times while you are on duty, and you will be responsible for it. On completion of you  training your wage will be based on four pence halfpenny per hour, paid in arrears”
“It is now five o’clock, time to stop your lesson  for today. You may dismiss until eight o’clock tomorrow morning”.

That night I lay tossing and turning , thinking of  all the things  I had been told, and must remember, if I am to hope to pass the test.
I want to sleep but I cant!………. The bed is soft and sags in the middle. I ruffle up the flock pillow, pull the feather eiderdown close to my chin.
A washstand with a large china jug  and bowl on it are the only furniture other than  a wicker chair, a piece of lace curtain  covers the lower half of the window.
The moon shines in showing the two brass posts of the end of the bed, one with my cap on, the other with my coat. My trousers hang  neatly folded from the cross rail.

If I fall asleep, and don’t wake in time for work, I will lose the job, I don’t have a watch. The land lady has promised to wake me in the morning. But who will wake her?
Perhaps  tomorrow I will drive a tram…………..




Offline helcion

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Re: Sheerness trams
« Reply #19 on: January 15, 2012, 19:49:49 »
I know a couple who met when they were volunteers on the Tallyllyn Railway.

Eventually they became the footplate crew on the same locomotive.

Their wedding was mentioned in the Tallyllyn Railway magazine as being the first recorded case in railway history of a driver marrying his fireman.

Cheers

Helcion   

Offline grandarog

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Re: Sheerness trams
« Reply #18 on: January 15, 2012, 19:22:01 »
stoker
n (RAILWAYS, NAUTICAL, NAVAL) chauffeur(-euse) m/f 
Translation English - French Collins Dictionary

seafordpete

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Re: Sheerness trams
« Reply #17 on: January 15, 2012, 17:11:55 »
The Maidstone trolleys only jumped at certain places where there were tight curves or points so presumably most likeley down to the driver going too fast  on thigs like the U turn at the Monument .

Offline Sentinel S4

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Re: Sheerness trams
« Reply #16 on: January 15, 2012, 16:21:39 »
The main reasons a Trolley would jump the wire was due to lack of maintenance. On the Isle of Man Electric Railway all drivers are required to carry a spare Trolley wheel as these do ware out. They are generally made of brass and have plain bearings. Another point would be at junctions where the Trolley would have to change wire. Again the IoM ER have places where the conductor is required to watch the Trolley as it crosses over. The bow collectors seen on Sheppey would not have had this problem.

As an aside I was once asked where my Chauffeur was when I was on the RH&DR, one man drives and fires. I explained that I was the Driver to which the young girl said 'Non not Driver but Chauffeur, he puts coal in engine'. From that I can only work out that a Chauffeur is a fireman and not driver.......  :). S4.
A day without learning something is a day lost and my brain is hungry. Feed me please.

seafordpete

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Re: Sheerness trams
« Reply #15 on: January 15, 2012, 10:53:59 »
Thanks for that, I have never heard of the Trolleybus being used on Sheppey but you never know. I was talking to dad the other day and he said that they were always being disconected from the supply wires and they had to put the mechanism back on the wires over with the use of a long pole. Is the name of Bus conductor anything to do with conductors (Electric) or Orchestrator I wonder. Did trams have a conductor/ess?

Trolleys had a long bamboo pole with a hook stowed under the bus, if the arm came unlatched from the wire the conductor (or conductress) would pull the pole out, hook the arm (which being sprung was usually thrashing about) and latch it back on the cable. In Maidstone favourite places  were at The Monument at the top of the High St ,The Cannon and Wren's Cross. I  think the term conductor predates trolleys and comes from the French. same roots as conductor of an orchestra - ie in charge.

Offline conan

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Re: Sheerness trams
« Reply #14 on: January 15, 2012, 09:44:04 »
To remain ignorant of what happened before you were born is to remain a child......Cicero

Offline Paul

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Re: Sheerness trams
« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2012, 16:04:38 »
Great suff  :)

But looking at the route it could have been just as quick to walk along the beach?
Maybe it's big horse I'm a Londoner. :{

Offline conan

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Re: Sheerness trams
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2012, 13:38:44 »
It wasn't too short, didn't it go as far as Seager Road one way and also up to Sheerness East.

There's a plan of the tramway here

http://www.sheernessheritagecentre.com/apps/photos/photo?photoid=48543593

In the window of the tram in picture 5 theres a sign saying Sheerness east and Sheerness pier

To remain ignorant of what happened before you were born is to remain a child......Cicero

Offline sheppey_bottles

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Re: Sheerness trams
« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2012, 11:53:09 »
Thanks for that, I have never heard of the Trolleybus being used on Sheppey but you never know. I was talking to dad the other day and he said that they were always being disconected from the supply wires and they had to put the mechanism back on the wires over with the use of a long pole. Is the name of Bus conductor anything to do with conductors (Electric) or Orchestrator I wonder. Did trams have a conductor/ess?

Offline Sentinel S4

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Re: Sheerness trams
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2012, 11:23:26 »
Sad to say that when the trams went the busses took over and have never left. No trolley busses for Sheppey, just petrol and then diesel. The only electric vehicle on the Island were the milkfloats of later years. Oh yes and the trains in the 60's to present. S4.
A day without learning something is a day lost and my brain is hungry. Feed me please.

 

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