Southall, Ealing and Shepherds Bush Tramway

The rather oddly named Southall, Ealing and Shepherds Bush Tram Railway Company Ltd opened a short (1.25miles), standard-gauge horse tramway from Shepherds Bush to Askew Crescent on the 1st June 1874. The track however had not been built as specified, and the Board of Trade inspector refused to licence it for public use until the defects, which were significant, were rectified. The company however, chose to ignore this, as well as several further directives from the BoT, simply continuing to run the trams, with no effort whatsoever being made to undertake remedial work. The company was however in poor financial shape, and before the BoT could take out enforcement action against them, a compulsory winding-up order was made by the Court of Chancery at the request of the contractors (the Reid Brothers) who had not been paid for their work.

The company was placed into liquidation on the 3rd of December 1874, the trams ceasing to run on the 23rd February 1875. An auction was held in April, but a buyer could not be found, so the liquidator then reached agreement with the Reid Brothers for them to complete work on the tramway without payment, and for them to then take-it over. The liquidator seems however to have exceeded his remit, as legally, he was not empowered to sell the concern in this manner. Notwithstanding the legal complications, the tramway was re-opened on 21st September 1875, operation being leased to Charles Courtney Cramp. The tramway was eventually sold to Reid Brothers on the 25th January 1878, the latter having meanwhile sought powers of its own, and constructed a westward extension of the tramway to Action Priory.

By late 1880, the Reid Brothers had decided to sell their tramway interests, and the tramway was duly sold to the West Metropolitan Tramways Company Ltd on the 6th March 1882.

Photographs of this early tramway, which operated for just under 8 years (including a hiatus of 7 months when it was closed), have not have survived. Although it is therefore unclear whether uniforms or informal attire were worn, its successor company — the WMTCo — definitely did not issue uniforms. The latter did however issue kepi-style caps with large metal cap badges, so it is just possible that the SE&SBT may have done likewise, though nothing in the way of badges has yet come to light.

Further reading
For a history of this early London tramway, see: 'The London United Tramways, Volume 1 — Origins to 1912' by C S Smeeton; The Light Rail Transit Association and The Tramway and Light Railway Society (1994).