In 1876 the
Birkenhead Street Railway ordered 7 new trams from the local, but
internationally famous tramcar manufacturer, the Starbuck Car &
Wagon Company, located not far from the present transport musem, in
Cleveland Street. This building still exists and there is a plaque on
the building noting its previous importance.
The tram has a back to back seat on the roof called a "Knifeboard
Seat", this type of top deck seat lasted until around 1886 when the
design of top decks changed and the more familiar transverse garden
seat became more or less standard.
The tram was usually pulled by two horses, but would be worked by a
stud of about twelve horses worked in rotation. You will see the tram
is fitted with slatted blinds, very common for for this time, used to
keep the sunlight off the passengers. It is very ornately decorated
with ornamental mirrors in the lower saloon. The tram is meticulously
decorated and lined out.
The tram was sold in the 1890's to the Birkdale and Southport Tramway
Company, it is possible that the directors of Birkenhead United
Tramways, Omnibus & Carriage Co Ltd (which by 1899 the old Street
Railway had become) were the same, namely the Busby family.
The tram ended its days as a lamp store in a coal yard in Southport and
then in the 1970's became the first exhibit in the new Steamport Museum
In the late 1980's British Horse Tram enthusiasts took on the task of
restoring the tram over a four year period and then sold the tram to
Wirral Borough Council, the present owners. It is now in the care of
the Merseyside Tramway Preservation Society.
The tram is the oldest double deck tram in mainland UK. The oldest
double deck tram in the world is housed in the Brussels Transport
Museum and was made, also by George Starbuck, in 1869. Another