Hull City Tramways Milnes tramcar

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Photo: Paul Abell

Although double deck steam trams had traditionally been covered (partly to protect passengers from steam and soot particles), the earliest double deck electric tramcars were exclusively open topped, possibly on account of the protruding trolley standard that would presumably have presented manufacturers with tricky construction challenges.

While open topped tramcars were understandably popular during summer weather in coastal resorts, passenger demand in urban areas was greatest, not surprisingly, during wet and wintry conditions.  In conditions such as these open top decks were decidedly off-putting, which effectively halved the seating capacity at times of maximum demand.

From very early on, therefore, the hunt was on for a satisfactory solution to the problem.  The earliest attempts involved the use of temporary or removable top covers that could be dismantled when not required while affording better protection for upper deck passengers when conditions were inclement.

By 1902, the main phase of electric tramway construction in Britain was drawing to a close and the initial surge of orders for new tramcars had mainly been satisfied.  It was at this stage that tramcar manufacturers began to turn their attention to the manufacture and sale of top covers to the operators of the massive fleets of open topped tramcars, in the hope of maintaining full order books.


Type of tram
Electric 4-wheel double deck passenger tram built as an open-topped car but fitted with covered tops before entering service
Maroon and cream
Seating capacity
58 (36 on top deck; 22 downstairs)
Date built
Date entered service
Manufacturer of body
Milnes of Birkenhead
Manufacturer of truck
Originally Brill 21E
4’ 8½”
Originally 2x Westinghouse 25 hp
Current collector
Trolley pole

1903/4 fitted with Magrini adjustable four bay top cover before entering service.
1907 new fixed top cover fitted
Most of the class were fitted with enclosed balconies and vestibule platforms and the original reversed stairs were replaced by standard stairs at this point.

Withdrawn from service

Thought to be 1945. Withdrawal of this particular batch of trams took place incrementally between 1925 (113) and 1945 though several were sold on to Leeds City Transport.

Subsequent history

Not known

Restoration history

Original intention was to restore the body as a short canopied top covered tram to fill a major gap in the collection until a more suitable contender was discovered for this project..

Current status
Stored off-site in incomplete and unrestored condition
Date started operating at Crich
Total mileage covered at Crich
Current location
Off-site storage facility
  • 1904 – 1945Operational on original tramway
  • 1945 – 1970sDismantled and converted into beach chalet
  • 1970s – Transferred to off-site storage facility, where it remains

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.