Based on childhood recollections
of working class life in north London in Edwardian times.
When I was a child in London in the early 1900s, almost all commercial deliveries
were by horse and cart, but passengers could travel on the roads by horse-drawn
bus, horse-drawn tram or electric tram which received its power from overhead cables.
Trams ran on rails / tracks set into the road. Consequently they were not
at all manoeuvrable: The driver couldn't steer them and other road users had
to keep a constant look-out to get out of their way. Trams were particularly
hazardous for cyclists because their wheels could easily get caught in the channels
on either side of the rails unless the cyclists made a point of riding across
them rather than along them. Fortunately, as it was expensive to lay the tracks,
trams ran on relatively few routes.
My Aunt Em was one of the many women who was drafted in to work on the
trams during World War One,
when so many men were away fighting (or dead or injured). She often let us children have a free ride.
Horse-drawn tram in Edmonton, c 1900. Note the rails
in the road and the open top. Photo from the effects of Ena Cole.
Tram in Fore Street, Edmonton, 1910. Note the
overhead wires. Detail from
a larger photograph in the effects of Ena Cole,
Trolley buses, which ran on wheels rather than rails were somewhat more manoeuvrable, but they did have to make
contact with overhead cables for their power.
When the first double-decker bus drove under the Silver Street railway bridge, its roof was torn off. So a depression was made in the road.
It used to fill up with water which seriously caught out cars not realising how deep the water was.
If you have further information or an old photo
which would illustrate this page, I would very much appreciate hearing from
Pat Cryer, webmaster
Open top public transport in Fore Street, Edmonton, in
the early 1900s. A tram, powered by an overhead electric cable is on the left
and bus is on the right. Tram rails can be seen in the middle of
the road. (A detail from a larger photo found in
the effects of Ena Cole.)
Waterproof covers which could be unhitched in the
rain for covering knees and laps. Photographed in the London Transport
Buses and trams had open tops, and it was fun to sit on the
top deck to see the scenery as it passed by. It could be cold though, particularly
in a strong wind. Fortunately there were waterproof covers for passengers on
the top deck for use in the rain. They were attached to the seat in front and
could be unhitched to go across our knees.
Covered top buses and trams came into service sometime during
This website Join me in the 1900s is a contribution to the social history of everyday life in early to mid 20th century Britain, seen through personal recollections and illustrations, with the emphasis on what it was like to live in those times. It is © Pat Cryer.