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BARNSLEY’S FIRST TRAM

Trevor Polding

 

 With all the current activity in the tramway revival its interesting to remember that it’s just less than 100 years since Barnsley’s first tram ran in public service. The date was November 7th 1902.The tram was an open topped double - decker of  6 foot wheelbase powered by two 32 HP motors & built by Messrs Brush Electrical Engineering of Loughborough.The driver was Mr Jesse James Hammond (Picture 1) & the conductor Mr Sam Jones. 

(1)
Mr Rigby a local chemist was determined to be the first man over the track after the official opening .He paid the considerable sum of 5 shillings for the first ticket , took a seat upstairs at the front of the car & leaned over the railings so that he was ahead of the driver. He can be seen at the front of the car in picture 2.In this plate Mr Hammond can be seen wearing civilian clothes as the uniforms had not yet arrived. 
(2)
The tram left Eldon Street at 3 p.m. heading in the Worsboro direction. The route ran across May Day Green, past the Alhambra, up Sheffield Road, Upper Sheffield Road, where the tram sheds were, (what is now the Yorkshire Traction bus depot) & through the cutting. At Cutting End the tracks divided, one line going straight ahead down Park Road to Worsboro Bridge, then known as New England, the other turned sharp left at Bank End Road then followed High Street down to Worsboro Dale.
The other route which was run separately was in the opposite direction, starting from Eldon Street then going under the railway bridge, down Eldon Street North & Old Mill Lane to terminate just short of the railway bridge over the Barnsley Coal Railway at the start of Wakefield Road. This terminus was known as Smithies.
While the first day went smoothly enough, on the following day the tramway had a rather spectacular mishap. Heavily laden Car No 5 on an outward journey to Worsboro Bridge had reached Cutting End when the driver found that his brakes were not working properly & decided to proceed no further. He ordered the passengers off where they joined an already large crowd all hoping to return to Barnsley. As the conductor was reversing the trolley pole the crowd made a concerted rush to board the car, knocking the driver off the platform onto the floor in the process. The weight of the passengers caused the car to run away down the slope with the driver sprinting in hot pursuit. He managed to scramble on board just as the panic-stricken passengers were rushing to leave the car. He was again knocked from the platform onto the ground. Lightened by the sudden departure of the passengers the car stopped of its own accord. The result of all this was a bent trolley pole & two severely shaken passengers who had leapt from the top deck. Minor consequences under the circumstances.
 
(3)
The trams ran in open top form until 1904, picture 3 showing one passing the market stalls on May Day Green. 
(4)
Picture 4 shows a group photo at the tram sheds .The man in the light suit is Mr Marco the General Manager. Points to note are the two trams on the left have been fitted with covers over the top deck, while the one on the right is still in its original open topped state. It’s destination blind reads Smithies so presumably the unconverted ones were used on the shorter route until they acquired top covers. A final point is that Jesse James Hammond is the driver second from the right on the back row, directly above him on the top deck of the tram is Jesse Hammond his son, himself to be a driver with Yorkshire Traction. 
 
 
 
I would like to thank Mr Mike Parsons of Wharncliffe Books for permission to use material already published by them & to recommend anyone interested in reading further to obtain a copy of Aspects of Barnsley No 5. Wharncliffe Books Web Page is at
www.yorkshire-web.co.uk/localbooks/