The Basford Route
The third and final line to Basford was opened on 11 August 1879 and this ran from the Market Place to Basford Gas Works on Church Street, via Chapel Bar, Derby Road, Alfreton Road (with a connection to the Forest Road line), Bentick Road and Radford Road. The depot and stables for this route was built on Isandula Road, very near the Basford terminus, to designs by the Nottingham architect, Albert Nelson Bramly.
The average working week of the horse-tram crews and depot men was at first anything between 80 and 90 hours, and a 16-hour term of duty in a single day was commonplace. Conductors received 16/- per week when working and 1/- per day when not working.
Occasionally the company was required to arrange special trams. One such example occurred on 25 May 1881 when the Water Committee invited the members of the Corporation to inspect "the works of the important water undertaking recently acquired by the town". From the public offices in Albert Street the large party left by private trams for Trent Bridge. As the day progressed so the party moved on to and around the various sites. From the Trent works they travelled by tram again and then walked to the Castle Works. From there the Park Row reservoir was visited and another short walk took them to the Sion Hill Works. From the top of the Derby Rd, nearby, the tram cars were used for the journey to the Scotholme Springs. The party then moved on by carriage to see Bestwood Pumping Station.
Starbucks provided five single deck cars for the Basford service. By December 1879 the company had twenty cars running on the three sections, employing 192 horses, and the average number of passengers was from 50,000 to 60,000 each week.
With the steep gradient of 1 in 17 up Chapel Bar and Derby Rd, two additional horses were required to haul the cars. These trace-horses, or cock-horses as they were called, were put on at the bottom of Market St, and taken off at Canning Circus.
A report of the Market and Fairs committee was presented to the Corporation on 1 March 1880 as follows:
We have agreed to allow two horses which are required to work the tram cars on the heavy gradients of Market St and Derby Rd, to stand in the Market Place under a suitable covering provided by the Tramways Company, on payment of such weekly amount as would by payable for stalls occupying the same space.
The cock horse enclosure came into service on 11 March 1880. The company erected a temporary shed. This led to a dispute with the council and on 7 March 1881 the Annual Report of the Markets and Fairs Committee was presented to the Corporation and states that the shed for horses of the Tramway Company in the Market Place has . . . been removed at the request of the Council.
Later photographs suggest that it consisted of four posts, with a single rope on three sides, the fourth side being open towards the tram lines, but in the winter it is likely that the space was covered by a tarpaulin to offer the horses some brief shelter between duties. It is said that the horses became so used to their task of assisting the trams up Market St, that when released at the top of the hills they often came back on their own, leaving the horse boys behind.
The tram fare up Derby Rd was 2d, but coming down it was 1d. The journey from the Market place to Basford took one hour ten minutes and to extend the service to Bulwell, the company provided its own horse buses to transport passengers from the Basford tram terminus.
It has been suggested that a cock horse was also required to assist on the inward journey from Hyson Green up Alfreton Rd to Raleigh St, although no records have been found to indicate where the horses were kept.
Designation of routes was by a lettered destination board on each side of the car above the windows, and the cars were painted various colours denoting the routes on which they worked. The Trent Bridge and Station St services were all over yellow, the Carrington and Forest Rd services were white and red and the Basford service was white and dark blue.
Although a service to Bulwell via Alfreton Rd and Cinderhill was considered, no further extension to the route was made, nor were any new routes commissioned, but additional vehicles were purchased to add to the fleet or to replace existing vehicles which were scrapped.
A local correspondent, Percy Vere, wrote an article in 1879 to the Nottingham Journal during the construction of the tramways entitled On Local Locomotion, an extract from which is included here, as it gives some statistics and comparisons:
It was said that Nottingham could not support a tramway company; that there was this, that, and the other special reason why it would be all moonshine in Nottingham. It was said again that the uneven roads would necessitate the employment of too many extra horses to make the company pay; but these prognosticators did not know that uneven roads create traffic; that people are ever ready to jump into a car, and even pay a full fare to simply ride to the top of a hill. Now it happens that these prophets are without honour in their native land. The tramways company is a great success in the town, as we shall see very soon. The first section was opened on September the 18th last year, the running being to and from the Railway Stations, the Trent Bridge, and St. Peter's Church. On that first day 2,277 persons were carried in four inside cars, which were worked by 27 horse, the fare being twopence all the way. But here is something rather good. In the week ending October the 5th (Goose Fair week mind) no fewer than 32,619 persons were carried in five cars; and this result was said by experienced men to be unparalleled in the history of tramways.
On the 5 April 1879, the second dual section, namely, the route from Smithy-row . . . to Carrington Church, and along the top of Forest-road to the top of Burns-street was opened. Contrary to . . . expectation. . . the Forest-road route. . .has proved to be the most successful branch in the service, as the returns show the receipts to be over 30s. per day per car more than those of any of the other branches. This result will be read with some astonishment, yet when the matter is looked into it will be seen that the Forest-road traffic being wealthier it is more regular. There may be fewer "packed" cars on the Forest, but from morning to night the seats are pretty well occupied, which cannot be said of the Station and Trent Bridge routes. These two sections are in operation at present, and to work them twelve cars (including three outside ones to and from the Trent Bridge) are in use. In Whitweek - in spite of the fitful weather, there was no lack of riders in trams, in fact one car only carried in one day no fewer than 1,837 persons, with a revenue of £15 6s. 2d. There are now 120 very fine horses employed; but the company is at the present time trying the experiment of seeing what can be done with those, said to be, stupid "gentlemen" called mules. These creatures are now in use daily on the South London Tramways, and being fleet in movement and less expensive in maintenance, they are proving to be advantageous on level roads. A couple of these animals have been brought from Kentucky for the Nottingham Tramways Company, and they are now running on the Trent Bridge line with much success. The manager, Mr. G. Herbert, has "put them on their metal" by testing their conduct in a variety of ways, and he finds them to be remarkably tractable, and very useful indeed for level roads for simply running in one groove.
In the course of about six weeks the third and last section of the company's present scheme will be completed and opened for traffic, namely, the course from the Exchange Hall . . to Old Basford Gas Works. . . taking the present as a guide to the future, the passenger traffic will be at the least 3,000 people per week per car, or 60,000 as the grand total. Of course, the company have not been unmindful of the great importance of adopting every precaution for the full return of the money taken by the conductors, and the employment of the "bell punch", recording every issue of tickets, has been found to be as good a plan as any that is known.
The question is often asked, how the cab and omnibus proprietors take to these innovations. Of course not very kindly, but experience shows that these individuals are more frightened than hurt. At first there is a little loss of revenue to the cabmen, but in the end the result is no worse, as people get educated to riding everywhere, and cabs get a fair share. The railways were said to have struck a death-blow at the ordinary vehicle traffic, but such did not prove to be true, and, wherever tramways have opened there has been no decrease in the numbers of cabs - Leicester for instance. Since the company have been running per timetable, the bus proprietors have done the same thing along St. Ann's Well-road, and with good result. For the comfort of the shareholders of the company, it may be stated that the directors will no doubt pay in July (with the interim dividend paid in February), a dividend at the rate of six per cent per annum. When this is taken into full consideration - that is to say, when all the difficulties are duly allowed for, and it is remembered that only a portion of the line is as yet opened - the result is most satisfactory. Indeed all the shares are now quoted at two per cent premium with few vendors. As to the character of the company, I think it is not undue flattery to say that it is efficiently and economically managed as the staff is limited to the mere necessary officials, and the directorate is small. Considering the rail employed is one that is sure to result in great saving to the shareholders, seeing that there will be little or no cost of repairs, and taking into consideration also the fact that the tramway route is populous, and the working expenses small, there is every reason to prophecy success to the company . . . As far as we can make out the estimated weekly receipts of the Tramway Company amount to about £350, and in Whit week we believe as much as £430 was taken, for which upwards of 50,000 people were carried. Taking £350 as the average weekly receipts gives a total of over £17,000 in a year, which is a very large sum indeed for the present branch of tramway service in a town of such proportions as Nottingham . . . There are 212 cabs in the town, so that estimating the earnings at but £2 per week there is a total of £424 weekly, or £20,000 a year. Taking the above as a very moderate estimate, and making a little allowance for omnibuses, 'carriers' carts, &c., it is fair to suppose that at least £40,000 a year is spent in Nottingham for passenger traffic.
Read more about this topic: Nottingham And District Tramways Company Limited, Nottingham and District Tramways Company Limited 1875-1897
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