Another Good Book
The last book showcased on this Blog was the marvellous epistle by Brian Turner recording the fortunes of Lytham Trams published last year. I received copy of an equally enthralling book this week (enthralling that is for ardent followers of British trams). This time the subject was the London Feltham car which managed to provide transport modernity to travellers not only in the capital for which it was built, but also in Leeds where the bulk of the hundred strong class would end their days following closure of London's tramway in 1952. A single unique example also made its way north (as all good trams should do) to join with fellow centre entrance trams in Sunderland.
I had but a brief encounter with the Feltham cars during their later years in Leeds. My mother took it on her herself to invite me to the city one Sunday in 1958 where she was working temporarily at an exhibition. Knowing all too well my then youthful (and innocent) fascination with electric trams which had taken over from engine spotting days - she would spend the subsequent afternoon traversing Middleton circular with her overly excited son on the top deck of a swaying Feltham, and persuading the bemused depot hands at Swinegate to allow both of us briefly into their domain.
Below : Last day of Leeds trams in November 1959, suitably damp and depressing, allowed at least a final encounter with the Feltham class in their Yorkshire setting. Three of the class are lined up at the Corn Exchange terminus (or thereabouts) headed by 505.
The ride on the Middleton Circular proved to be a far cry from the sedate travel on a Blackpool railcoach (or Coronation) northward to Fleetwood. The pitching and swaying as we sped through a dismal landscape downward back towards the city was an alarming experience compared to the gentle rumble on Blackpool's tracks. My next encounters were on equally brief day visits from Blackpool during the final months of the Leeds trams during 1959, usually amid dull overcast skies. The end came in November that year when several tours traversed now familiar routes out to Temple Newsam, Crossgates and Halton.
It was in later years that I renewed my acquaintance with the class during several visits to the massive collection held at the Seashore Trolley Museum in Maine. Here four UK trams were held in varying degrees of comfort, including former Leeds Feltham car 526. I managed to recall my impressions from those earlier encounters in Leeds marvelling at the spacious interior layout on both decks of the car - when compared to the more compact clutter of Blackpool's centre entrance fleet. The two preserved examples in the UK also became objects of pilgrimage; especially the example once held at the LT collection in Covent Garden but latterly now held in store.
The unique centre entrance Feltham which had earlier found a second home in Sunderland's eclectic fleet eventually found a home at Crich were it has been magnificently restored to working order and providing chance to sample another version of Blackpool's bog standard design.
All of the details one might like to read about featuring these magnificent trams are contained in the new book by Author Peter Waller in his definitively researched book : 'The London Feltham Tram - the evolution of a classic tramcar design' Published by Pen and Sword Transport .