Monday, 21 November 2016

On borrowed time, with tram car 562 in the summer of 1938

 I do have to say that this is one of my favourites from the collection not least because there is so much going on in the picture.

Now it is August 2nd 1938 and car 562 is clanking its way along its route to Albert Square.

Once not that long ago its driver would have only had horse drawn vehicles and pedestrians to contend with but by the summer of 1938 it was pretty much free for all with cars, vans and lorries.

And the writing was on the wall for the stately tall tram.  Ten years before our picture, the decision had been taken to replace the 53 route from Stretford to Cheetham Hill with motor buses and just over a decade later in 1949 the last trams were running on their last journeys.  According to one source the switch to buses on the 53 route was to increase passenger numbers by 11%.*

Added to this was the real need to put in substantial capital investment if the trams were to continue to run and so in 1937 the Corporation took the decision to phase out the tram in favour of the bus and trolley bus.

And if had not been for the outbreak of war two years later there would have been no tram on route 38B passing Grosvenor Street.

It would mean the end of a network of 292 miles of tram track which in 1928 carried passengers on 953 trams across 46 routes. And of course the end of that delicate tracery of cables suspended above the roads which gave power to the trams.

You can of course be swept along by such nostalgic tosh, so back to the summer of 1938 on Grosvenor Street.  Our tram is sandwiched between the van of Ball & Lawrence Ltd who dealt in carpets and that swift moving car crossing car its path.

And then there are the adverts, some of which just fade into the background but deserve mention.  In the shop directly in front of the van and by the speeding car are displays for Craven and Players cigarettes while partially hidden from view is a reminder that the railway company offered routes to Liverpool and North Wales.

But for anyone with an eye to the date and to outbreak of the war a year later it is the advert to “Join the Modern Army” which has a special significance.

Picture; from the collection of Alan Brown


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