Dundee & District Tramways Co. No. 21

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Dundee 21

Photo: Jim Dignan

Dundee & District Tramways no. 21 is the only example of a steam tram trailer in the collection at Crich.  As such, it represents an important transitional phase in tramway development between the limited capacity and relatively low-powered horse tramway era and the much greater capacity and increased tractive power of the large  bogie tramcars that emerged during the electric tramway era.

Horse trams had to be small and light enough to be pulled with a full complement of passengers and, for this reason alone, seating capacity was generally limited to between 20 and 30, even on double deck cars. Even then, additional horses were normally required for any hilly sections of track while steeper gradients were normally ruled out altogether. In addition, horses were expensive to house and maintain and needed regular rests. They also had a relatively short working life and were prone to disease.


Photo of Dundee 21 in service, courtesy of Alan Brotchie.

Steam trams provided a reliable means of overcoming such drawbacks and, in so doing, enabled tramways to operate in much more challenging terrain while transporting many more passengers. This opened the way for tramways to develop in many of Britain’s northern industrialised hill towns for the first time.


Type of tram
Double deck, short canopied, unvestibuled, all- enclosed steam tram bogie trailer
Green and cream
Seating capacity
66-seat 28 lower deck; 38 upper deck
Date built
Date entered service
First licensed on 4 July 1894
Manufacturer of body
G.F. Milnes & Co
Manufacturer of truck
Milnes plate-frame bogies. The current set are not original but were taken from an ex-Douglas Cable Car.
4’ 8½”
Withdrawn from service


Subsequent history

Lower saloon taken to Crombie reservoir, north-east of Dundee, for use as a fishermen’s hut.

Restoration history

Removal to Blackpool in 1969; where restoration commenced on the body of the tramcar while it was in open storage. Removal to the museum’s off-site storage facility in 1980 for further restoration work to be completed under cover. A further move, to Bolton, also took place before the restoration was finally completed in 1989.

Current status
On display. Mechanically incomplete (in particular the braking system), it has never operated at the museum.
Current location
Exhibition Hall
  • 1894 – 1902Operational on original tramway
  • 1902 – 1969Dismantled and converted into dwelling or similar
  • 1969 – 1989Undergoing restoration
  • 1989 –On display

Crich Tramway Village is a brand name for the National Tramway Museum (Accredited with Arts Council England), solely owned and operated by The Tramway Museum Society, incorporated in England with liability by guarantee (no. 744229). Registered charity number 313615. Our ICO number is Z6700136.