1869 Brussels Double-Deck 2 Horse Tramcar


Early Buses and Trams 1863-1919

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The tram was born in the United States where streets in most cities were so rough that rail was adopted for public transport, first, by John Stevenson in New York in 1832, and in New Orleans in 1835. Another American, George Train, built the first trams in Europe – in Birkenhead, England with rolling stock built by Geo. Starbuck & Co also of Birkenhead. But Train’s rails were not flush with the road surface and he ran into problems in London. However, the concept spread rapidly to many cities and a Londoner named Morris built a line in Brussels from Porte de Schaerbeek to the Bois de la Cambre. Other lines soon opened and in 1874 Les Tramways Bruxellois was formed by merging several lines. The tram in this image is one of the first in Europe built in Birkenhead to the same spec as those running on the Frankford and Southwark line in Philadelphia in 1858. It carried up to 40 passengers: 24 seated outside above the clerestory windows and 16 inside on orange velvet upholstered seats. Headroom was 7 feet so with a double row of hanging straps, capacity could rise to over 50. With spoked wheels of chilled cast iron it was sprung between axlebox and car by a hard rubber ball. Today Brussels has the 16th largest tram system in the world with 141.1 km (87.7 mi) of lines. You can see this tram today at The Museum of Urban Transport at Woluwe-Saint-Pierre, Bruxelles, Belgium.

Additional information

Dimensions 47.5 × 34.5 cm