Birkenhead Tramways Company

The Birkenhead Tramways Company was formed with the express intention of taking over and revitalising the horse-drawn, standard-gauge tramway of the Birkenhead Street Railway Company, which it acquired in 1877. Although a new line to Prenton was opened on the 11th July 1878, the company's relationship with the corporation was always a little fraught, with the latter insisting on all sorts of conditions in return for their approval of changes, including forcing the company, at least for a while, to run a completely unremunerative service.

Following negotiations with the Hoylake and Birkenhead Rail and Tramway Company, the BTCo acquired that company's tramway interests (the line between Woodside Ferry and the Docks Station of the Hoylake Railway) on the 12th October 1879. Although seen as a logical expansion of the company's interests, and apparently considered by them to be a bargain, it was ultimately to sink the company, something which probably ought, with a little foresight, to have been anticipated. They did however experience a few years of profitable running before the cold winds of railway competition made themselves felt. This acquisition took the BTCo's system to its final extent of circa 6.3 miles.

The opening of the Mersey Railway line to Green Lane in Tranmere, via the Mersey Railway Tunnel (on the 1st February 1886), and subsequent Wirral Railway and Mersey Railway extensions to Birkenhead Park Station two years later (on the 2nd January 1888), led to a dramatic fall off in ferry journeys and thus, passenger numbers on the BTCo's docks line. Major losses were incurred in 1877 and 1878, and these, coupled with the deteriorating infrastructure, led the company to seek a winding up order on the 7th September 1888. The company continued to work the lines, but the end was in plain sight, and on the 15th August 1890, the tracks were formally acquired by the corporation, and the rest of the assets by a newly formed company, the Birkenhead United Tramway, Omnibus and Carriage Company Ltd.

Unfortunately, photographs of the tramway in operation have not survived, nor is there any documentary evidence which would confirm whether or not uniforms were worn.

Further reading
For a history of Birkenhead's tramways, see: 'The Tramways of Birkenhead and Wallasey' by T B Maund and M Jenkins; LRTA (1987).