London Feltham on Leeds tram route 20 at Halton Terminus

Ex London Feltham in Leeds
 Click on picture [210] for an enlarged version

Notes by David Bradley

I appreciate that this is hardly a stunning picture, but it is historically interesting and, in my opinion, full of atmosphere of life in Leeds in the late 1950s. Visiting systems some distance from home, it was always disappointing if the weather was not conducive to outdoor photography especially on the last day of operation, as with this picture of an ex-London Feltham on Leeds route 20.

Then to find forty years later, that the colour slides have deteriorated over time is particularly frustrating, especially as colour film was so much more expensive than monochrome in 1959.

Somehow, the bow collector sits uncomfortably on the roof of the ex London trams that you wish that the Leeds system had just a little of conduit in the city centre to re-capture the look and feel of these once proud trams. Another enigma of the Feltham cars was the front passenger exit door, with the commanding, but quaint, STOP sign that swung out as the door slid open. The use of that exit was such an exceedingly rare event that on the last special tours of the Leeds system most passengers left the tram for photographic stops by that exit!

The Railway Enthusiasts Club [of Farnborough, Hampshire], hired a Feltham on Sunday 30 November 1958 taking it from Swingate to Templenewsham, Crossgates, Middleton, Moortown, Hunslet and back to Swingate. The fare was 5/- [25p] with "Travel at Passenger's Risk"; a little bit of an understatement, with the high speeds on the Middleton reserved track which included a full blown emergency stop on the air brakes, the tram may have stopped but many passengers involuntarily moved to the front of the car!

The Feltham seen in the picture was acquired by the Seashore Trolley Museum in 1960 but Tony Tieuli <typefive@earthlink.net> writes:

"The tram remains in the 'barn of sorrows' where it is inaccessible to take photographs other than interior or poor angles. It has been there at least 30 years since John Edgar worked on it. At least it has been under cover and can be restored when and if money becomes available. Seashore is suffering from low attendance as are all the other tramway/railway museums in the USA."

What sad news this is. If it were only possible to get it back for Crich where the possibility for restoration would be greater.

From: "Charles Boylan" <charles.boylan@btinternet.com>

Thank you for such an interesting site, this picture is in my opinion is excellent atmospheric shot and shows the tramcar in its natural habitat, not in a leafy lane on a summers day, but a cold day in autumn.

I have vague recollections of the trams as I went out by bus to Garforth to see some of my mothers relations but I was only 5 when the system was abandoned.

From: "David Smallwood" <davidbsmallwood@btinternet.com>

My cousin, Noel Proudlock, has written a history of Leeds tramways, extract shown below about the Feltham Trams. I hope these are of interest.

Initial Testing
Feltham car 2099, still with its London number, was ready for display in December 1949 and during January 1950 ran on all routes for passengers to sample it. It did so thus:

10 Jan - round Belle Isle - Middleton circular
12 Jan - to Whingate [15]
13 Jan - to Bramley Town End [14]
16 Jan - on Roundhay circular [my home route]
17 Jan - again on Roundhay circular
By March it was working from Torre Road depot on York Road routes, and became No 501 during the summer.

Operational Strategy
The long reserved track sections on York Road and Selby Road [Routes 18 Crossgates, 20 Halton and 22 Templenewsham] were seen as needing better riding cars than the street track routes so from 1945 to 1948 all the re-trucked Pivotal cars were sent to Torre Road for those routes and their cross-city links to Whingate [15] and New Inn Wortley [16]. When the Felthams were repurchased this policy continued with Feltham cars being sent to Torre Road and re-trucked cars moving to Headingley and Chapeltown to complete their provision on the Lawnswood and Moortown/Roundhay circular routes, also to Swingate to replace the last ex Hull cars, converted balcony cars, and, indirectly, the Hamilton air braked cars on Beeston [5]. Headingley and Chapeltown were small depots and an allocation of 40 foot long Felthams would have reduced their capacity unacceptably so they did not appear on routes 1, 2 and 3 circular as long as those depots remained open.

When Torre Road had sufficient Felthams to cover most of its all day duties the Felthams first placed in service in Leeds were sent to Swinegate to give some share of the "new" cars on the routes traditionally largely worked by older cars:

3 Harehills or Roundhay to 4 Kirkstall Abbey
6 Meanwood to 8 Elland Road
9 Dewsbury Road to 10 Compton Road or 11 Gipton
25 Hunslet  
26/7   Belle Isle [NOT circulars]    

Initially they were used on Routes 3/4 and 26/7 but later appeared on others. They could not descend Beeston Hill as they lacked mechanical track brakes. Numbers 502-507 moved to this work in August/September 1951 and Numbers 501/8-20, probably in two batches, by May 1952.

Subsequent use
I first travelled on one of the 2/3 circular group of routes on 29 November 1955. Torre Road depot had closed on 21 November 1955. During the rest of the year I travelled on Numbers 508/10//6/38/65/7/86/7. During 1956 I travelled on them on these routes 104 times, in 1957 27 times but in 1958 only twice and the three months of 1959 during which the Moortown route still ran only once. This perhaps is a reflection of their declining numbers, those remaining being preferred for the York Road-Middleton circle duties.

The Front Entrance/Exit
In Leeds this door was used to load pram's, on other types put on the front platform from the offside. A notice was affixed in Leeds reading "Prams and Luggage Entrance".

Emergency Braking
David Bradley's notes refer to a "full blown emergency stop on the air brakes". This is incorrect. The vagaries of the air brake, used only in London for holding the cars, was one of the matters which Leeds drivers did not like. In Leeds the emergency stop would be made with the magnetic track brake.

Further Information
For those wishing to have further detail, a comprehensive single volume book entitled "Leeds: a History of its Tramways" is available from the author and publisher, J.N.D. Proudlock, 181 West Park Drive [West], Leeds, LS8 2BE, 12.95 post paid. [ISBN 0 9517185 0 9]

Comment by David Bradley

With regard to my statement "......with the high speeds on the Middleton reserved track which included a full blown emergency stop on the air brakes, the tram may have stopped.....". The assumption made by Noel Proudlock was that such braking was made by the driver; this was not so.

I can't remember exactly where, but there was a very tempting air braking handle somewhere outside of the driving compartment, which I have to admit, some 45 years, later that I operated causing the tram to come to a very rapid halt probably causing some minor injury to some, or many of, the passengers. I seem to remember that it caused a flat area on one of the wheels; a constant reminder to me for the rest of the tour what I had foolishly done.

From: "sgcl/ecgcf" <sgcl@clara.net>

I rode the Felthams in Leeds many times. They were driven much harder there than they ever were in London and on the reserved tracks especially the 12/26 they could really shift. Although IMHO not so fast as the Middleton bogie's, now they really were trams!

The three HR2s never got a fair crack in Leeds, the drivers did not like the magnetic brake so tried to drive these very heavy cars on the hand brake. So they never risked much speed.

The Felthams were never used much, if at all, on the Roundhay routes 2/3. The word was that they were not passed for this route. Their main service initially was on the 16/18/20 New Inn to Crossgates or Halton with an odd turn to Templenewsham. The 16 and 18 route numbers of course were no strangers to this class!

My memories of Leeds go back many years to prewar times even.

From: "Keith Isherwood" <keith@isherwood96.freeserve.co.uk>

Parents kept a grocery shop near Halton 20 terminus and I was often dispatched there to obtain coin change from a friendly conductor. Lived in Halton from 1943 to 1958.

May I point site visitors to Dewi Williams WEB Site where there are many Leeds tram pictures. I have supplied him with some comments and corrections which should be incorporate eventually.

From: "The fair colleen"

I just surfed in to your website and have enjoyed looking at the old photos! I lived in Crossgates from 1960 until 1980.

May I recommend a book for you to read? Its called "City Lights" by Leeds born Keith Waterhouse. This book is a very nostalgic tale of living in Hunslet and Halton Moor in the 1940's. You may already have read it. I hope so.

From: "J Rawl" <JSrawl@aol.com>

 ex Leeds 602
Click on picture [14] for an enlarged version
A picture of Leeds 602, mentioned by J Rawl,
caught on camera at Crich Tramway Museum c1969
[See also www.britishtramsonline.co.uk]

Born in Kirkstall Road 1947. Found your pictures stirring.

Remember the Kirkstall Road depot fondly as I lived only a few hundred yards from it in Bracewell Row off Lloyds Street. Dad was a tram conductor in the fifties. I remember the seat backs which were pivoted so you could face the way you were going! Dedicated tramways were quite superb. I remember the Roundhay track to the Park and later on in life we lived on Stanningley Road which also had a dedicated track - later to become a central reservation/island. Great days.

As the trams were finishing I seem to remember a single decker - possibly in purple and white livery - articulated? Quite a fuss was made of it as it made it's stately progress up Kirkstall Road.

Haven't been back to Leeds recently - are trams coming back?



From: "David Young" <dayoung007@hotmail.com>

This is a most interesting site, and the colour photos are fascinating. Are any of the tram pictures for sale as original or duplicate colour slides?

Your last-day photo of Feltham 526 in Leeds is absolutely the way it was - all my black and white pictures taken that afternoon are similar, and unless a modern scanner can bring them back [and I have yet to try], my colour slides of the same afternoon are almost hopelessly underexposed. However, the location of the picture, unless I've missed a second picture, is not somewhere on the Belle Isle - Middleton extension [opened in 1949]. It's at Halton. 526 is the Feltham that's now at the Seashore Trolley Museum at Kennebunkport, Maine. In less than 3 months after the taking of this picture, it was already being unloaded at the Port of Boston, having been shipped as deck cargo on a freighter crossing the Atlantic in mid-January.

Some comments on an earlier posting:

From: "sgcl/ecgcf" <sgcl@clara.net>
I rode the Felthams in Leeds many times. They were driven much harder there than they ever were in London and on the reserved tracks especially the 12/26 they could really shift. Although IMHO not so fast as the Middleton bogie's, now they really were trams!

True.

The three HR2s never got a fair crack in Leeds, the drivers did not like the magnetic brake so tried to drive these very heavy cars on the hand brake. So they never risked much speed.

Not so with 277, 278 once they had air brakes fitted.

The Felthams were never used much, if at all, on the Roundhay routes 2/3. The word was that they were not passed for this route.

Not so. They were used fairly frequently in rush hour and in the 1954-1956 period occasionally showed up in base service as well, running through to Lawnswood and after that closed down to Dewsbury Road [(9]. 507 while working on the Roundhay route was written off in September 1952 after a runaway [air brake leaked off at Roundhay Park while the driver went off to the toilet - without removing the brake handle or using the hand/parking brake].

Their main service initially was on the 16/18/20 New Inn to Crossgates or Halton with an odd turn to Templenewsham. The 16 and 18 route numbers of course were no strangers to this class!

No, See above, Although they certainly held down most Tong Road/York Road services between 1951 and 1956, even right at the end of the Tong Road routes in the early summer of 1956 there were still single-truck Chamberlain cars to be seen on the 15/15/17/18/20/22 group of services. Also Felthams were occasionally used on the 11 [Gipton Estate] branch off York Road running through to 9 Dewsbury Road, plus also on 10 Compton Road - infrequently - from 1951 to the time each of these routes closed.

They never ran to 5 Beeston, nor 14 Half Mile Lane [possibly one or two inadvertent scheduling's on this line but I've never heard of any personally] but occasionally showed up on 4 Kirkstall Abbey, 6 Meanwood, 8 Elland Road, 25 Hunslet and once the Tong Road services closed became fixtures on the Middleton 12/26/27 routes which were then linked to the York Road group.

The picture at Crich is of single-deck 602 [not 610] (Caption now changed - Ed.). A now-unjustly forgotten sister car with identical bodywork but different equipment, was 601. [See also www.britishtramsonline.co.uk]

From: "Michael Rollison" <mfrollison@yahoo.co.uk>

The Leeds Feltham trams were not used on the 2 and 3 routes to Moortown and Roundhay until the 28th September 1957, when the closure of route 2 meant that these Feltham cars would not need to turn the very sharp curve at Moortown Corner. This curve was so sharp that two of these bulky Felthams would not have been able to pass each other without the risk of contact. After the above mentioned closure, I do remember travelling on Feltham cars on the 3 route.

From: "Peter Gilboy" <PGILBOY@telefonica.net>

This is a call from Spain. I was born in Leeds and lived there until 1960, when I came here. I lived in Crossgates from 1939 to 1960 and, until the Stanks bus [40] came into service, I used the tram a lot. It was quite a walk from Penda's Grove to the terminus.

My first memories of trams are the Middleton trams. We lived in Middleton when I was born and I thought they were the best ones. I can never remember any Middleton tram getting to Crossgates. One vivid memory I have is of the very old trams with the open upper deck at each end [Car 22 I think in your picture 14]. They only seemed to get these out in Winter, never in the Summer, at least to Crossgates.

I also remember one trip on tram 601 or 602. At Lewis's they organised events from time to time and one of these comprised the driver's portion of a tram and, as a schoolboy, I got a lesson on how to drive a tram.

When at Secondary School, we used to catch the tram home at Wellington Bridge and the fare cost 1½d [child].