Coventry Corporation Transport Society

The Era of Steam Trams

The details of trams described in this section have been assembled mainly from information described by Denton and Groves[1], with other details extracted from Peter Gould[2]. Information described by Ken Crawley[3] has been used to validate the information from the other two sources. Other information sources have also been used to verify specific details.

Before the Use of Mechanical Power on Tramways Act of 1879, tramways were governed by the red flag act.  Even after the 1879 act there were still considerable restrictions:

  • The maximum speed was 10 miles per hour;
  • The emission of steam and smoke was not allowed;
  • Blast and clatter noises were prohibited;
  • All machinery above 4 inches from rail level had to be concealed.

Coke was used to avoid smoke and the emission of steam was prevented by two methods:

  • Superheating the exhaust steam as with the Wilkinson engines;
  • Using roof mounted condensers as with the Falcon locomotives.

The Coventry tram service began in 1884 with four steam locomotives and six tramcars.  Two further locomotives were acquired in the following year and a seventh two years later.


[1] A S Denton and F P Groves, Coventry Transport 1884-1940, BTHG (1985)

[2] Peter Gould, Coventry Corporation Transport Tram Fleet History in Local Transport History (www.petergould.co.uk/local_transport_history)

[3] Ken Crawley, The Electric Tramcars of Coventry in The History and Industrial Archaeology of Coventry Tramways (www.coventrytramways.co.uk)