Glasgow Corporation Tramways Works car No.21

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Photo: Jim Dignan

An often overlooked aspect of tramway operations is the tram track itself, or permanent way. Although tram track looks superficially similar to rail track, the form and profiles of the two are slightly different and this difference also extends to the profiles of the wheels themselves. As a result, even though both trams and mainline trains run on track that is nominally the same gauge (4’ 8½”), the difference in profile means that in practice they would not normally be able to operate satisfactorily on the same track.

Ordinarily this was not a problem for first generation tramways as, for the most part, “never the twain did meet”, but Glasgow was an exception. Here, on account of the extensive shipyards around Govan, it was felt to be desirable to transport heavy loads of steel directly from the nearest mainline freight yards to the shipyards themselves using conventional railway freight wagons that were hauled along short sections of the city’s tramway by small electric locomotives (not unlike the museum’s Blackpool electric loco 717).

In order for this to happen, Glasgow adopted the highly unusual track gauge of 4’ 7¾” for its tramways so that railway wagon could run on their deeper flanges along sections of tramway. As a result, all of the Glasgow tramcars that have ever operated at Crich have had to be regauged to the tramway standard gauge of 4’ 8½”. Glasgow 21 is exceptional inasmuch as, alone of all the city’s tramcars represented at Crich, it has retained its original idiosyncratic gauge of 4’ 7¾”, because it has only ever been a static exhibit at Crich.

Specification

Type of tram
Works car – Welders Tool Van
Livery
N/A (currently painted blue). Originally crimson lake or dark brown, fully lined out in yellow edged with red with fine inner white lining and yellow lettering. The lining was omitted after the 1930s and ultimately the lettering was omitted also.
Seating capacity
N/A
Date built
1903
Date entered service
1903
Manufacturer of body
Glasgow Corporation Tramways
Manufacturer of truck
Brill 21E
Gauge
4’ 7¾”
Motor
Originally 2x Westinghouse 49B at 30hp each, subsequently BTH101J at 60hp each.
Controller
Originally BTH B18, subsequently MV OK45B
Current collector
Trolley pole then Fischer bow collector
Modification

Originally No. 1, renumbered 21 in early 1920s following GCT’s acquisition of Airdrie and Paisley systems.
1939 platform vestibules added.
1949 equipped with new truck (Brush 21E), controllers and more powerful 60hp motors.

Withdrawn from service

1962

Subsequent history

Sold, October 1962

Current status
Unrestored; non-operational
Date started operating at Crich
N/A
Total mileage covered at Crich
N/A
Current location
Off-site storage
Timeline
  • 1903 – 1962Operational on original tramway
  • 1962 – 1972Static exhibit as museum bookshop during most of the period
  • 1972 – 2005Static exhibit on Glasgow gauge tramtrack at Wakebridge
  • 2005 – Off-site storage

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.