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Events for 2014

                                                                                    NEW YEAR 2014                                                                  


Gate Law Change 

A Bill aims to stop public spaces becoming “no go areas”, the Government says.

Its Anti-social behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill currently going through Parliament gives new powers to local authorities. New public spaces protection orders (PSPOs) giving councils authority to tackle anti-social behaviour will be set up.

Norman Baker, minister responsible for crime prevention, says:”The coalition is simplifying the complex array of antisocial powers introduced by the last government. 

    “This power will make it easier to stop the behaviour of those who act anti-socially, turning our public spaces into no-go zones.

“It is not aimed at restricting legitimate users, such as walkers, whose activities are in fact better protected by this power than by the restrictive gating orders it replaces.

    “Local authorities will consult ahead of putting an order in place and those affected will be able to appeal if they feel the order is not valid.”


    People who fail to comply with the new restrictions face on-the-spot fines.

    However, some groups fear that the new law is too open-ended and could lead to many more activities being banned. 

The West Derby Society (WDS) is studying  the proposals which may impact on the controversial gating of the ancient Leyfield Road Aspes Road public right of way, due for review in March 2015. WDS opposed gating the path after alleged anti-social behaviour and crime.


Rise and Fall of the Tram

Horse-drawn buses operated in Liverpool from 1830 but the first tram track was laid down by a man called George Train, writes Alastair Caird.

Train pioneered tramways in Britain and in 1861 laid tracks between the then Liverpool city boundary at Sheil Rd and Old Swan. This line was not a successful venture and had to be discontinued and the tracks removed.

In 1865 Liverpool Tramway Company Ltd was formed to “construct and work tramways in Liverpool ”, opening its first line from Exchange to Dingle in 1869. 


Horse trams in Lime St 1890 


The trams were double decked, horse-drawn and seated 46 passengers. Although the system was extended, difficulties arose between the company and the Corporation over the state of repair of the tram track and the roadway.

In 1879 Tramway Company amalgamated with the Liverpool Omnibus Co Ltd to become the Liverpool United Tramways & Omnibus Co Ltd. The new company entered an agreement with the Corporation whereby the latter bought the track, reconstructed it and carried out any necessary extensions  It then leased the lines to the company at an annual rental to operate the vehicles. 

    By 1884 all the suburbs were connected to city centre by a comprehensive horse-drawn tramway system but the day of the horse was nearing its end as far as tramcars were concerned.

Reynolds Jackson bus of 1911 on the Woolton - Calderstones route at Cromptons Lane


Experiments were already being carried out with electrically-driven vehicles.

In 1897 the Corporation decided to purchase the tram system from the company. It took over the fleet of 267 horse trams plus about 100 horse buses and started operating on 1 Sept 1897 . The Corporation immediately began a programme of electrification adopting the overhead wire and trolley system. The first line of the new electric tramway was from Dingle to South Castle St , the first tram running on this route in November 1898. 


    The vehicles were of German construction, drawing a trailer. After three years of municipal ownership the whole system was electrified and passenger figures more than doubled. Fares were reduced by more than 30%.

As the city expanded more tramway tracks were extended into the suburbs.  A new feature was the construction of reserved tramway tracks - the first was on the Edge Lane route to Bowring Park in 1914. New improved trams were brought into service to take advantage of these developments with upgraded springs.

    After the First World War further improvements were made in tramcar design. In 1929 a new type of bogie tramcar came into service proving silent, smooth and popular.

    These improvements led to the adoption of the first streamlined design in 1930. An interesting experiment was a 34 ft long single deck tram seating 44 passengers but after the one prototype this design was not adopted.

During this period between the two wars the old Engineering Works in Lambeth Rd , acquired with the Tramway & Omnibus Co in 1897, became inadequate to cope with the maintenance and construction of a modern tramcar fleet. 


    The Corporation purchased a 15-acre site (old Tournament Hall) in Edge Lane and the foundation stone was laid in 1926, the building being completed in 1928. 

    The new works, the main block covering seven acres, was acknowledged to be the finest tramcar works in the country.

Practically all the tramcars and many motor bus bodies were built there by local craftsmen.


 Mid-1930s AEC Regent 2 - A79X in West Derby Village in August 1954 on the 61 route

 Shortly before the Second World War the crowning achievement in tramcar design and construction was reached with the introduction of a fleet of streamlined eight -wheel bogie truck and four-wheel single truck tramcars.

    All were built at Edge Lane Works, bringing the tramcar fleet to its maximum of 784 vehicles.

   The motor bus fleet was born in 1911 when the Corporation acquired Woolton Omnibus Co which was then running a service between Woolton and Smithdown Rd.  

   Motor bus development was very slow. After the First World War the bus fleet was considerably increased but buses were treated as ancillary to tram routes, serving mainly outlying areas. Even up to 1939 the transport department owned about four times as many trams as motor buses, making it essentially a tramcar undertaking.


 Buses in Lime St 1957 


Motor bus operation by independent companies in the area had increased considerably. The Corporation’s co-ordination agreement with larger bus and railway companies specified operating areas and fare provision.

    or some time it was realised that, with its comparative inflexibility, the tramway system could not indefinitely cope with changes required for the transport needs of Liverpool . Developments started at the end of the Second World War throughout the country including new housing estates, coupled with the rapid growth of vehicular traffic, only served to illustrate the limitations of trams. The costs of maintaining a tramway undertaking, including track and overhead gear, were mounting rapidly. Enormous capital expenditure would have been necessary if new track was to be laid into the steadily developing housing and industrial estates around Liverpool

    Furthermore, trams operating on a fixed track tended to aggravate serious traffic congestion in the city centre. By this time double-decker, diesel-powered buses had improved in efficiency leading to cheaper operating costs than trams.

These trends led Liverpool City Council to decide in 1945 to adopt a policy of converting the tramcar system to motor bus operation over a 10-year period. 

    Details and plans for particular routes being converted were based mainly on the condition of the respective tram tracks with some thought to garage accommodation for the new motor bus fleet.


The conversion programme was a task of some magnitude. Apart from the purchase of a large number of new vehicles, seven tram depots had to be reconstructed for buses - although not ideal they did prove to be satisfactory. 

The first completely new bus garage was opened in Speke for buses serving the large housing and industrial area. 

A new bus garage followed in Gillmoss to take care of similar developments in the Kirkby area.

On the personnel side the issues had been to train large numbers of tram drivers as bus drivers as well as maintenance staff.  


All aboard the 61


As each tram route was converted to bus operation the opportunity was taken to extend into the suburbs or modify routes to an extent impossible with trams. Extensions from 1945 required 180 additional buses bringing the bus fleet to a total of 1,265 vehicles in 1957.

    On 15 September 1957 the system became entirely bus-operated with the fleet running over 202 miles of routes and travelling 42 million miles a year – more than a million passengers a day.


 Who remembers going to town, arriving at the Carlton and the bus engine stopping as the drivers made a long change? This photo is from June 1960 at the Carlton . Happy memories!


Q & A

The USA standard rail gauge is 4 foot 8 ½ inches wide – WHY?

Because UK engineers built them the same width as in the UK – WHY?

Because this was the same gauge as in the pre-rail tramways – WHY?

Because jigs and tools were the same as for wooden cart building – WHY?

Because to use any other spacing cart wheels would break on long distance roads because of wheel ruts spacing.

So who constructed the old long-distance rutted roads?

Imperial Rome built them all over Europe for their Legions to travel.

And the ruts in the road?

Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts which all others had to match for fear of destroying their own wagon wheels – WHY?

Because Imperial Roman Army chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the rear end of 2 war horses.

The American space Shuttle had a big booster rocket on both sides – they wanted them wider, but this was not possible – WHY?

Because they are made by Thiokol in Utah , and HAD to be transported by train through mountain tunnels, which were laid with 4 ft 8 ½ inch wide rails.

So in fact the Space Shuttle design was governed from over 2,000 years ago by the width of two horses’ backsides!


 Thank You

Again grateful thanks to our Newsletter distributors who deliver the quarterly, saving the Society some £100 postage per year on an ongoing basis (a lot for a small society). We post Newsletters  to those who live outside the immediate area and this alone costs £44 in postage. So yet again our valiant Distributors are keeping the Society solvent -  well done and our thanks.



Norwich-based WDS member Colin McCormick writes:

The Keep on Truckin' photo in the Autumn  Newsletter (above) got me thinking about big lorries which actually have a connection with West Derby

    When I was a child, one of our neighbours in Whinfell Road , Sandfield Park , was Alice Reardon, sister of John Reardon who ran the demolition and haulage company based at The Old Barracks in West Derby village. She also worked for the family firm and I believe drove lorries herself during the war. Imagine my delight as a four-year-old when, in the late fifties, Reardon's got the contract to demolish the big house across the road, where Sandfield Close now stands. I could watch tipper lorries and diggers at work all day right outside my bedroom window! 

    Another West Derby connection with big lorries was Woolfenden's Crane Hire.  Walter Woolfenden's father ran a garage and hire car business in Breck Road between the wars. After the war Walter developed the business into crane hire having seen the opportunity of buying US army surplus equipment, initially from auctions at Burtonwood airbase but later by travelling to sales in the US himself.  The company's heyday appears to have been the 50s and 60s and there does not seem to have been a construction or demolition job in the city during this period that they were not involved in.  I also well remember the fantastic displays of vehicles suspended in mid air that they put on for the Liverpool Show. Walter and his wife built a big house in South Drive , Sandfield Park , called Armadale. 

    Walter was very keen on keeping photographic records and he took, or had taken, photos of all his vehicles and all the big jobs (and some mishaps!) they got involved in. This huge photographic archive can be viewed at:


Fergie’s Fashions 

Here are some previously unpublished fashion images from the WDS archive of glass plates taken by West Derby postmistress Marion Fergie between 1890 and 1910. 


 These may show a mother and daughter seen in the leafy grounds of one of the many West Derby mansions. Unfortunately there are no captions with the plates.




Two nannies pose with their charges? Note the boy is still not “breeched” and wears a skirt as was the fashion.


Annual General Meeting

It’s that time of the year again with WDS subscriptions due for 2014.

    The annual membership is again £10 each (under 18s free) and the subscription form is attached to this Newsletter.

We hope to see you at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) at 7.30 pm on Wednesday 15 January. It will be followed by the chairman’s illustrated talk based on his new £4.99 paperback Stephen Guy’s Forgotten Liverpool (available

Details of this year’s speakers are included on your membership card. 

Don’t forget to put the WDS meetings in your diaries and in particular our evening outing on Wednesday 18 June and day trip on Saturday 5 July 2014


Chairman’s Comments 

The year 2014 marks a century since the start of the First World War.

Expect to see many commemorations over the next four years – particularly in the media.

I have already recorded a radio piece about the unique Lusitania war memorial in St James’s Church. 



 Ten soldiers, members of the 3rd Dragoon Guards, pose for a light-hearted photo at their barracks in Cairo .

The First World War had started and they wanted a memento of their time in Egypt before setting off for the trenches.

    Among them was Private Edward Guy – known as Ted – who stands at the back with arms crossed, revealing a distinctive birthmark on his right bicep. Behind him is a display of postcards featuring beauties and celebrities of the day.

    One 29 September 1914 Ted and his comrades sailed from Alexandria , arriving in Liverpool on 18 October. Twenty-year-old Uncle Ted, one of my father’s six older brothers, had a few days’ leave at home in Hamilton Road , Everton, before leaving for France .

    There he quickly got caught up in the horrors of the First Battle of Ypres. Also known as the First Battle of Flanders, the Allies and Germans fought for the strategic town of Ypres in Belgium between October and November 1914.

    When the war started people said it would be over by Christmas. Before British tanks broke the stalemate, much of the conflict involved bloody trench warfare with huge numbers of deaths. 

    This was the first war with killing on an industrial scale yet ordinary soldiers were initially ill-equipped for survival.

    During the first year none of the armies supplied protective steel helmets for their troops. Ted and his companions fought in cloth caps offering virtually no protection against high-velocity bullets. Snipers on both sides did terrible damage, picking off men walking along the trenches or charging into battle.

    Ted’s death was described by Corporal William Turner in a letter to my grandparents: “On 17 November 1914 our trenches were heavily bombarded and then attacked by the Prussian Guard.

    “Our squadron (C) went to meet them and I am very sorry to say your son was severely wounded in the head. A friend of mine, Cpl Carter, in the same troop as him, saw him fall “We put your son in a farmhouse and made him as comfortable as possible, until it was safe to move him. When it was dark I carried him down to the Dressing Station but I am sorry to say he died on the way without regaining consciousness.”




 This is the sad reality of war. Like countless others, Ted was bravely doing his duty. There was no dramatic prelude to his death – a sniper got him in his sights and that was it. 

We have never forgotten Ted or his sacrifice and treasure his photographs and medals.

 Stephen Guy