London United Tramways No. 159

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LUT 159

Photo: Jim Dignan

As a mode of mass transportation, tramcars are not normally associated with the luxury end of the transport market, but in early Edwardian days, when private cars were still a rarity, tram operators in affluent areas might expect reasonable levels of patronage provided they were able to offer superior levels of comfort and style. One such operator was London United Tramways, which began providing electric passenger tram services in the fashionable West London districts of Hampton Court, Hammersmith and Wimbledon in 1901.

Sumptuous interior of 159. Photo: Jim Dignan, 12/4/2015

In order to appeal to the well-heeled passengers living along many of their routes, LUT purchased a large batch (150) of W class tramcars built to an elegant Edwardian design featuring six Tudor arch windows from the Shropshire-based factory of G.F. Milnes. The basic design was an open top, short canopy, double deck bogie car whose lower deck was sumptuously furnished with carpets, curtains, padded seating and inlaid walnut ceiling while the upper deck was finished off with an elaborate wire mesh screen.

Specification

Type of tram
Electric double deck open-topped passenger tram
Livery
Royal blue and white
Seating capacity
69 (30 downstairs; 39 upstairs)
Date built
1902
Manufacturer of body
G.F. Milnes & Co
Manufacturer of truck
Brill 22E bogies
Gauge
4’ 8½”
Motor
Westinghouse 49B 2 x 30 hp
Controller
DK DB1 (should be Westinghouse 90)
Current collector
Trolley
Withdrawn from service

1923

Subsequent history

Upper deck removed and lower saloon sold off to serve as living accommodation. Donated to TMS and transferred to the museum’s off-site storage facility to await restoration in 1978.

Restoration history

A seven year process of restoration/reconstruction funded by the LCCTT with support from the Prism Fund began in 2005 and was concluded in July 2012.

Current status
Restored to operational condition. Commissioned for service as part of the operational fleet during the current season.
Date started operating at Crich
2012
Total mileage covered at Crich
1,911
Current location
Depots
Timeline
  • 1902 – 1923Operational on original tramway
  • 1923 – 1978Lower saloon converted into a dwelling
  • 1978 – 2005In storage
  • 2005 – 2012Under restoration
  • 2012 –Operational at Crich

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.