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Johannesburg Tramways

A History of the tramways of the city of Johannesburg

By Tony Spit Revised and with additional material By Brian Patton M.A. Published in London by THE EIGHT RAILWAY TRANSPORT LEAGUE 4, Madge Hill, Church Road, London W7 3BW 1976 Printed by W. J. Ray & Co. Ltd., Wedge Street, Walsall, West Midlands. Š Tony Spit and Brian Patton ISBN 0 900433 55 8



JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS INTRODUCTION In the early eighties of last century, the South African Republic ruled the present-day province of the Transvaal. It was then a poverty-stricken independent state with a distinctly chequered history; founded in 1849 by Voortrekkers from Cape Colony, it had been recognized by Britain in 1852. The Voortrekkers (which may be called pioneers) had left Cape Colony after the abolition of slavery in British colonies in 1834. Twenty-five years later, with the Zulus threatening, it had become a British colony and the Zulu war had ensued. When it was finally over. Boer and Britain parted company again and in 1881 the Pretoria Convention recognized the Republic's independence. At first it was ruled by a triumvirate but in 1883 Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger was elected State President. He ruled with the help of an executive council and of the Volksraad (assembly), which met at Pretoria. Kruger had been born in Cape Colony and his family moved north with the Voortrekkers. Limited in academic education, he possessed great common sense and a most stubborn character, softened at times by a sense of humour which sophisticated European visitors found unsettling. He ruled an agricultural country, whose foreign trade was limited to ivory and skins, with the output of a few geld and diamond diggings. There were no railways, few good roads and much of the land lay undeveloped, including the Witwatersrand (ridge of the white waters), an expanse of poor grassland which, it was thought, might contain gold deposits. With this in mind, two prospectors, George Harrison and George Walker, examined the farm of Langlaate, the property of (Mrs.) Mevrouw Anna Oosthuizen and struck gold; further examination followed and on July 24, 1886, they reported to the State President that it seemed to be a workable goldfield. Fortune-seekers immediately began to crowd on to the Witwatersrand, henceforth generally known and referred to as the Rand; from the coast they came, by train to the nearest railhead and from there by mail coach, ox wagon or on foot. Many came from the diamond workings at Kimberley. That part of the gold reef which later became the Wemmer and Ferreira Deep mines soon became a chaotic collection of miners’ shacks primitive stamp mills and saloon bars. Fortunes were made in a day and, often, lost in an evening.


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS All this activity came as a somewhat rude shock to the government in Pretoria. At first they saw in the goldfield only a menace to their simple way of life, but they soon perceived that it would also mean a permanent end to their financial difficulties; this Cinderella of states had become fabulously wealthy, and princes, in the shape of solemn German and Dutch technocrats, jostled for the honour of serving it. To introduce some semblance of law and order, President Kruger declared the goldfield a public digging in September 1886 and the settlement was declared a township. It was then laid out by the government surveyor, Johannes Rissik, whose name was commemorated for all time in that of the new township Johannesburg and in one of its principal thoroughfares, Rissik Street. Two years later, when the superficial strikes were exhausted, a depression settled over the goldfield. It might even have been abandoned, had not the Village Main Reef Company sunk a borehole and found the reef again at a depth of 531 feet. Mining at this depth was economically feasible only with the use of heavy and expensive machinery: this marked the end of the individual digger and the formation of large companies such as the Crown Mines Company. The roar of numerous huge mills blended to a rumble that became the pulse of the town - when the mills stopped, everyone heard the silence and waited for bad news. Gradually the residue formed the mine-dumps which became characteristic of the place and which were later to complicate the layout of the tramways. In due course, the inhabitants petitioned the government for the right to elect a town council but President Kruger is alleged to have said that respectable people should live in Pretoria and visit Johannesburg only for business. Meanwhile the value of land in and around Johannesburg soared. Before the discovery of gold, an acre of ground could be purchased for a few shillings; during 1895 a site for two buildings in Commissioner Street, measuring 100ft x 50ft fetched ÂŁ22,000. Nowadays a smaller site could bring in almost ÂŁ200,000. In 1890 yet another crisis overtook the town. The gold then being mined had an ore-content so low that extraction was no longer profitable: the method then used was the mercury amalgam process in which only 60 per cent of the gold could be extracted from the ore. The industry was saved by the discovery of the cyanide process by J. S. McArthur, as this gives a yield of ore as high as 98 per


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS cent, in certain cases. Thus it again became profitable to mine the medium quality ore of the Rand, and since then the industry has suffered no comparable setbacks. Johannesburg today is the largest city on the African continent south of the equator and has an area of over 200 square miles, the population being 1,100,000. The city area can be divided into four parts: The central area, with adjoining suburbs on the eastern and western sides. This part is bordered to the north by a ridge of fairly steep hills and to the south by mining ground and mine dumps and stretches in all for eleven miles from boundary to boundary. The southern suburbs, lying to the south of the mining area. The south-western native area, which, with 360,000 inhabitants, is almost a city in itself. The northern suburbs, extending for six miles to the north of the ridge. Public transport is provided by a number of operators. The South African Railways operate a frequent service of electric multiple-unit suburban trains eastward and westward from the city centre and a heavily patronized native service to the south-western area. To the north and south, road transport has to handle all the traffic, there being no north-south rail link. Bus transport for natives is provided by the Public Utility Transport Corporation, a national organisation which provides outer suburban services for natives in several large towns in the Republic, and by private operators, most of whom operate only a single service, generally under a picturesque fleet name such as Dieseline Conqueror. European inter-city and outer suburban services are operated by three companies and three public bodies, including the railways. All transport within the municipal area is handled by the Johannesburg Municipal Transport Department, which provides services for both Europeans and natives. It is by no means an easy area to serve. Among the 400,000 Europeans, who form the main population group catered for by the Department, car-ownership is high and there are today about a quarter of a million private cars in the municipal area of which circa 200,000 enter the city centre daily. In certain districts, housing densities are as low as 5 per acre, and in others, public transport has to traverse large areas of waste ground or mine dumps with no resident population; thus long routes have to be operated, for much of their length at low densities of


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS traffic for an urban service. Traffic outside the peak hours is generally low and thus there has grown up in Johannesburg a tradition of using the largest vehicles available for many services to avoid having extra vehicles standing idle during the day. Despite (or perhaps because of) an extensive programme of road-building, Johannesburg experiences acute traffic congestion in certain areas, particularly on the roads leading to the northern suburbs, as these cannot easily be widened or duplicated. The suburbs themselves were often laid out with more thought to spaciousness than to ease of access and roads take many detours around parks, golf courses and sports grounds. Transport services are correspondingly indirect. In spite of all these natural and man-made obstacles, the JMT has provided for most of its existence a service of a high standard, which would be a credit to many European cities. Today both trolley and motorbus services are operated, using a fleet of 450 vehicles. The aim of this book is to provide a history of their predecessors, the horse and electric trams, which served the city from 1891 to 1961, and a brief outline of the present-day trolleybus system.


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS Chapter 1 THE HORSE TRAM ERA In the early days of the township, the hansom cab was the main form of urban transport, while coaches provided long-distance services. As fares on these were reckoned in shillings rather than in pence, a demand arose for a cheaper service within the growing urban area. The roads being largely unpaved, trams appeared to offer the most satisfactory alternative. On April 16, 1889, the government of the South African Republic granted to one Sigmund Neumann, late of Kimberley but domiciled in Johannesburg, a concession "to construct and work tramways, and for that purpose to lay rails on the public streets of Johannesburg". As there was no legislation in the South African Republic comparable to the British Tramways Act of 1870, the concession went in to some detail on the proposed system. It was to last for thirty years, although the government had the right to purchase after ten years and the right to order the building of extensions. The gauge of the line was to be 3ft 6in and the track single, with passing places. The undertaking was to be responsible for maintaining the space between the rails and the road for a distance of two feet on each side: strangely enough, however, it was required initially to ballast and pave these areas only where and when the government required this. Horses or mules were to be used and goods carried as well as passengers, whilst the government had the right to order connexions to be made with the main-line railways, when built. The government was to receive 5 per cent of the gross receipts whether the system made a profit or not—clearly Pretoria thought that it was on to a good thing here—and its servants were to be conveyed free of charge. A deposit of £1,000 was required forthwith from Neumann. As there was then no local authority in the area, except for a local sanitary or village board, the government itself was responsible for the control of the construction and working of the line. While the concession was obviously drawn up with the government's advantage most in view, the provisions dealing with a possible ending of the concession were both clearer and fairer than those in the British Act. In such a case, the government was to give a year's notice of its intention and, on taking over, was to pay the concessionaire a sum equal to twenty times the average annual profit of


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS the previous three years, such payment to be not less than the cost of the works or more than twice the cost. A curious minor clause stated that, in the event of a telephone service being established in Johannesburg, the government could require the company to connect the depot and the stopping places to the network. No doubt this would have helped both the government's revenue and the control of the tram traffic, but it does not seem to have been implemented. In spite of its bearing the August signature of State President Kruger, the concession did not immediately result in the building of a tramway. Possibly because of the depression in the mining industry, Neumann made over the concession to the Johannesburg City and Suburban Tramway Company in August 1889. In December, the company opened a London office for dealing in its shares. The Head Office of the company was originally situated on the south side of Commissioner Street; in 1894 it was moved to new premises in Bussey's Buildings on the north side. There was also a waiting room in Commissioner Street. The nominal capital of the company was £250,000 but only £50,000 was taken up, in £1 shares. The directors were Carl Hanau (a notary of Pretoria), Emil Bernheim, Herman David, Paul Dreyfus, Albert Warburg and H. J. King; F. van Hessert acted as managing director. The office was duly connected to the telephone system in 1892 and received the number 233. Construction of the system began in July 1890. Very light grooved rail was used and spiked direct to wooden sleepers buried in the still un-metalled roads. Clearly construction was a simpler and cheaper matter than in a British city; in 1898, the eleven miles of tramway were valued at £51,000, while a comparable figure in Britain would have been about £185,000, this being the value placed on the Edinburgh tramways (11and 3/4 miles) by an arbitrator in 1893. Some of the horse-tram rail was later used as check rail by the JMT The contractor for the lines was A. A. Stanton and the engineer J. Larson. Construction went ahead rapidly and a provisional service began, apparently without any formal inspection, on February 2, 1891, between the Heights Hotel and Jeppe’s Town via Commissioner Street. The Volksraad approved the bye-laws for the undertaking on June 9, and (hereafter the service was extended to


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS Fordsburg. The line was single, with 12 passing loops. Later in 1891, a loop from the City to Jeppe’s Bridge via Bree Street and the branch to Wolhuter were opened. On February 18, 1893, a branch via Hospital Hill to Doornfontein was opened, free rides being given on it that day. Later, at unknown dates, the main line was extended eastwards to Belgravia and a branch was opened to Braamfontein, bringing the route mileage to a maximum of 11and 1/2. The main line appears to have had 15 minute headway during the day. Special lunch-time express cars were operated non-stop to the suburbs from Commissioner Street, and so-called night cars were provided for theatregoers at 20:45 after the normal service ceased, at a fare of 1/- for any distance. On Sundays, cars ran at times to suit churchgoers. Each line was divided into stages of approximately one mile and fares were 3d per stage, with a maximum of 1/-. By comparison with British horse-tramways, these fares were very high, but the trams appear to have been popular right from the start, and to have escaped completely the proletarian associations of their contemporaries in Britain. The first horse cars and most, if not all, of those purchased later, were built by G. F. Milnes And Company of Birkenhead, England. This firm, previously the Starbuck Car and Wagon Company, had supplied the horse cars used at Cape Town and Durban and its products were thus already known in South Africa. No builders' records or official fleet lists have survived, but it is possible to gain some idea of the fleet from (the evidence of photographs, though the numbering of the cars appears to have been rather haphazard. The first delivery, shipped out from England in 1890, numbered about sixteen cars. There were probably eight enclosed single-deck cars (Nº1-8), each seating twenty passengers inside and possibly four on each platform; Nº. 8 of this batch survives as a museum piece. The other cars were roofed cross-bench cars, with six benches for four passengers each; these cars had no seats on the platforms, though passengers would also sit on the rear dash rail. Bright sun-blinds along the sides could be drawn down to shade passengers. The cross-bench cars were numbered from 9 upwards. Later, a further batch of each type was delivered, the saloons, numbered in the 20’s, having no seats on the platforms. A few garden-seat double-deckers of thoroughly British appearance were also bought, thus starting a tradition of double-deck vehicles in Johannesburg. There were probably only five of these and they are said to have seated thirty-six passengers;


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS because of hills elsewhere, they were confined to the Belgravia—Fordsburg service. The fleet eventually totalled 45 cars and remained at this figure until electrification. The first routes to open had no gradient steeper than 1 in 50, but despite this all cars, including the light cross-bench cars, were drawn by two horses. Later extensions included steeper gradients, and a third horse was provided during the

rush hours for cars going uphill from Commissioner Street towards Doornfontein and at the inclines in Jeppe’s Town and Fordsburg. Occasionally mules were used instead of horses. Fodder was very cheap, being the national sweet-veld grasses, which helps to explain the lavish provision of horses. A Johannesburg tram horse certainly led an easier life than a British one. The livery of the horse cars was probably chocolate and cream, this being the colour-scheme of the preserved car; it is, however, possible that the cars may have been painted in different colours, according to the route they served. The depot was built on a site in southern Doornfontein, by contractors named Cameron, Halstead and Webb. Accommodation was supplied for sixty horses and twenty cars and at the rear of the premises there was a large granary which held


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS enough fodder to feed a hundred horses for four months. Residential accommodation was provided for the depot, stables and running staff. At this stage, at least some of the drivers were non-European. They wore a blue serge uniform decorated with gold stripes. It is not clear whether this depot was later extended or whether other running sheds were built elsewhere. In so far as any organisation could lead a tranquil existence in the Johannesburg of the 1890s, the tramway company appears to have done so. It sought permission to electrify its lines in 1891 and 1895, but this was refused, one of the reasons given by the government being that farmers would lose the sale of fodder. In 1897, the Village Board was replaced by an elected council, which inherited from the Hoard a small power station with a gas generator, situated at the gasworks in West Street, and the right to operate electric trams. This encouraged the Company to apply again for permission to electrify, but it was again refused. At some date around this period, the Johannesburg trams were first confronted with mechanised competition when two German engineers imported a Daimler-Benz motor car into the Republic. It was first demonstrated in Pretoria and was inspected by the State President, who is alleged to have said that the engineers should be awarded a medal for having invented such a machine; when it was pointed out that they had only imported the vehicle, he generously said that they should have their medal anyway. He declined to try a ride, however, and the car was taken to Johannesburg in 1897 and ultimately sold. Horse-buses were operated by private operators from 1893 onwards to Booysens, Fordsburg and Orange Grove. The conflict between Boer and Briton in the Transvaal first affected the tramways on the day of the Jameson Raid, December 30, 1895. At 17:15 on that day, the pink edition of a daily newspaper appeared with the news that a band of armed men, led by Dr. Leander Starr Jameson, had crossed the Transvaal border from Bechuanaland. Excited crowds thronged the streets and ultimately brought the tram service to a complete standstill. During the days of investigation which followed the raid, the Stock Exchange and all public buildings remained closed and the tram service was not restored until January 8. This was a preliminary to the growth of hostility between the Republican government and the Uitlanders (immigrant population) which culminated in the outbreak of the second Anglo-Boer war in October 1899. Just


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS prior to that event, the government had indicated that it did not intend to take over the tramways at the end of the first ten years of the concession: a survey conducted for the government at this time estimated the value of the undertaking to be ツ」95,979 6s. 4d. On May 31, 1900, Johannesburg was occupied by the British forces, but, apart from a skirmish in Kensington in which a company of Royal Highlanders was involved, thus giving Highland Road its name), there was no fighting and the tramways suffered no damage. However, martial law was declared and many citizens left for the coast in trains provided by the Natal Government Railways; other citizens of foreign origin and prominent sympathisers of the Republican government were deported and Johannesburg became a ghost town. The tramway company's property was requisitioned and the depot became a police barracks; the tram horses were taken for military duties and all track crossing railway lines was removed, to prevent obstacles being placed in the way of military trains. It is not recorded what happened to the staff窶馬o doubt many joined the occupying army. Those inhabitants who remained in Johannesburg made do with cabs and bicycles, the latter enjoying a great boom in popularity during the war. Gradually the tram tracks disappeared under layers of accumulated dust. The Treaty of Vereeniging in May 1902 brought the war to an end and the Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek became the British colony of Transvaal. The new government set up a commission to investigate concessions granted by the old one. In a letter to the tramway company, the government agreed to recognise its concession, without extending it in any way, and called for an early resumption of services. One month later the military authorities returned the depot, and work had been begun on excavating the tracks and relaying the missing portions across the railways. It took a month to remove the accumulated dust of two years and the newspapers announced that services would begin again on July 21. The army, however, did not replace the horses which it had requisitioned and the Company had therefore to purchase others. Services were finally resumed on August 1, 1902, with ten-minute headway from Market Square to Fordsburg and Wolhuter, the two services connecting at Market Square. A fortnight later, after the track across the railway to Germiston had been re-laid, the Belgravia service recommenced, followed soon afterwards by that on other routes. Maintenance of the service was not easy for the first six months, as the horses which had been purchased were in poor condition and forty-eight died in


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS this short period. The population was still unsettled, and traffic figures were disappointing, though the Company was able to return a profit of ÂŁ4,798 16s 2d for the year 1902-03. New and cheaper fares had been fixed. The minimum remained at 3d, but the stage increases were now 1d each and a 6d transfer ticket was available. A pre-war feature that did not return was the lunch-hour express tram; although several attempts were made by local businessmen (who had meanwhile to use bicycles) to have the service reinstated, nothing came of them. Once the town had settled down to its peacetime routine and the post-war depression had ended, traffic on the trams improved significantly. But one thing worried the Company. The Johannesburg Town Council had received a new concession to work electric tramways, while the Company's own application for this had again been rejected. There were many complaints in the local press from the Company's supporters and its board meetings turned into protest meetings. Matters came to a head when it became known that several of the township Hand development; companies and important public bodies had undertaken to guarantee the Council against working losses if it would inaugurate electric tramways to newly-proclaimed suburbs. A petition was sent to the King, in which the Company bewailed the unfairness of its position. Tramways, however, were not one of Edward VII's enthusiasms and his government never got round to discussing this particular injustice, leaving life in Johannesburg to continue as before while letters to editors continued to discuss the pros and cons of every detail of tramway modernisation. It was an inescapable fact that Johannesburg needed something bigger and better in public transport. The Johannesburg Consolidated Investment Corporation had begun to supplement the tramway network with a service of petrol-electric buses to the more important suburbs not reached by the trams. Unfortunately, their services were prone to misfortune, and the timetables served only to show the times before which the buses would not leave the termini. The fares charged were very high; in 1903, the town council resolved that they should not exceed 6d per mile for the first mile and 3d per half mile thereafter. Beyond the tramways, the only reliable transport consisted of the hansom cab and the bicycle, of which the latter continued to prove very popular. Already on July 30, 1902, Messrs. Mordey and Dawbarn of London had been appointed by the Council as consulting engineers for a combined tramway and


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS electric light and power system. On January 12, 1903, J. P. Thomas, their resident engineer, presented his report to the Council and, after discussion, it was duly adopted. The story of the electrification is deal with in the following chapter. As was to be expected, the City and Suburban Tramway Company was bound to come off second best and in the end, after a lot of bickering, the shareholders intimated that they were prepared to come to terms with the Council. At an extraordinary general meeting held on May 30, 1904, it was provisionally agreed to accept the terms offered by the Council, by which the shareholders were to receive 15/ for each £1 share, and one month later, on June 30, the Johannesburg Municipal Tramways came into existence. On that date, the Company's assets, consisting of 45 tramcars, 317 horses, stables, depot and office premises passed into the ownership of the municipality for the sum of £100,000, For the first six months of 1904, the Company had made a profit of £5,475 and this was transferred to the Council's books, making the actual purchase price £94,525. Compared to the municipalisation of some British systems, the transfer of control had been relatively smooth. Operation continued very much as before; the system had a route length of eleven miles when taken over and remained virtually un-altered. The Company's staff was retained by the municipality. Their wages totalled £520 per week, whilst £308 6s. 8d. was paid in monthly salaries. Business was good, profits for the year 1904-05 being £20,620, although the JMT had withdrawn all privilege tickets and discontinued the late evening theatre trams as soon as it assumed control. Most of the 3,628,505 passengers were carried on the "main line" from Fordsburg to Belgravia which, with the Wolhuter branch, accounted for 68.4 per cent of receipts, with the remaining 31.6 per cent divided as follows Doornfontein via Hospital Hill 13.8 per cent, Doornfontein via Bree Street 10.4 per cent and Braamfontein 7.4 per cent. Total car mileage operated was 501,615. No alterations were made to the rolling stock by the JMT and all cars remained in service until the first closure early in 1906. A ten minute service was worked on all routes except Braamfontein, which had fifteen minute headway with a reduced frequency during the evening. Cars worked through between Fordsburg and Belgravia or Wolhuter, the other services terminating in the central area. For both Doornfontein services, the terminus was at the Exchange"—the corner of Commissioner and Harrison Streets—while the


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS Braamfontein cars turned at the Bank of Africa, a few yards north of the "Exchange" in Harrison Street. On a map published in 1904, several additional sections of track are shown but it is now uncertain whether these were proposed extensions, abandoned routes or tracks for special workings. Among the track thus shown was a curious section at the north-western corner of Joubert Park, whence an unknown route ran northwards, turning off to the right in Klein Street, and then re-crossing the original route in Wolmarans Street. Possibly it was used when special events were being held in the park. Over the years, several changes to the original routes had been made. In Jeppestown, the original main line ran along Commissioner Street, terminating at Gus Street, while the Wolhuter tracks ran along Betty, Marshall, Madison and Hanau Streets, with a short stub track running along Marshall Street to terminate at the railway line. When the main line was extended to Belgravia, the track was moved south to Main Street, the terminus being at Grace Street; one-way tracks were laid in Betty and Auret Streets to reach Main Street. Wolhuter cars, of course, continued to use Betty Street in both directions. At the same time as these alterations were carried out, the short length of track to the railway in Marshall Street was removed. At the Fordsburg end of the route, the track between Commissioner Street and Main Road in Fraser Street was replaced by one-way tracks in Becker and Ferreira Streets. When the Braamfontein route was extended to the eastern edge of the Cemetery, the old terminus in Melle Street became redundant and the two block length of track was lifted. To avoid prolonged interruptions to the service during electrification, some of the electric routes were laid in different streets to the lines they would replace; thus Market Street was used instead of Commissioner Street. It is said that in December 1905, the opening of a short deviation along Von Brandis Street and Main Street enabled horse cars to reach Belgravia and Wolhuter over electric tracks. It is not certain if these cars had been re gauged or if a temporary third rail was laid to allow them to operate; the electric tracks were built to the standard gauge of 4ft 8 1/2in A few other alterations were made as electrification advanced, but generally the horse-car system remained intact until the opening of the electric service to


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS Fordsburg on February 20th 1906. For most of its length, both the horse and electric tracks on this route followed the same streets, but this did not cause much difficulty, as the single horse-car track had been slewed over to the side of the road during conversion. Successive openings of other electric routes caused the almost complete disappearance of the horse tram in only three months. As the last survivor, the Braamfontein service continued to operate until July 14, 1906, when it closed without any recorded ceremony possibly because of disruptions of services, only 2 3/4 million passengers were carried in 1905-06, and the profit was only ÂŁ7,114. The 45 horse cars soon disappeared. Five were retained for use as trailers for non-European service and one of these is now preserved. Some of the others became passenger shelters, but most ended their life in one of the local scrap yards.


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS Chapter 2 THE FIRST ELECTRIC ROUTES On January 12, 1903, having discussed the Mordey and Dawbarn report, the Town Council resolved that: — The Town Council should establish and work electric tramways. The recommendations in the Mordey and Dawbarn report should be adopted, and Detailed plans and specifications should be prepared immediately. In addition, a decision was made to publish a notice in the press sating that the Council was prepared to consider applications for extensions of the proposed routes, and requesting the provision of capital and land for construction of such Extensions. This was in fact an invitation to the township (land development) companies who were opening up the further suburbs to participate in the building of the tramways and was in complete contrast to British practice, where tramways financed both their own construction and road improvements without the help of outside capital. The report, which cost the Council over £19,000.00, dealt both with tramways and a scheme for electric power and lighting; only the tramway pan is discussed here. It contained the following proposals for lines: • • • • • •

From Fordsburg (Market Square) along Main Road and Market Street, terminating in Siemert Road, Doornfontein. From Market Street, through Troye and Twist Streets, terminating at Goldreich Street. From Twist Street, through Bok and Beit Streets, terminating at the corner of Erin Street and Bertram Road in Bertrams. From Market Street, through Eloff and Main Streets, terminating at Grace Street. From Main Street, through McIntyre and Wolhuter Streets, terminating at the Main Reef Road. From Market Street, through Harrison, Viljoen, Simmonds, and Jorissen Streets terminating at the eastern edge of the Braamfontein Cemetery.



From Market Street, through Eloff and Noord Streets, joining At Twist Street. From Harrison Street, through Bree and Marais Streets, terminating at the Newtown railway crossing (Viljoen Street). Through Jeppe Street, joining the tracks in Harrison and Troye Streets.

In addition, the scheme provided for two short tracks south from Market Street, one running through Sauer Street to Frederick Street, the other through Von Wiclligh Street to Grahamstown Street. These had been planned with a view to extensions to the southern suburbs at a later date. Ten services were to be worked over this system, all nominally terminating in the city centre but since it was envisaged that serious congestion would be caused if all cars reversed in the city, cars would actually work through from one service to another. The services were placed in two groups, those that would traverse Market Street and those that would traverse Eloff Street. The former routes would terminate in Market Square while the latter would have their terminus in Government Square (the present Van der Bijl Square). This gave the following proposed through workings: • • • • •

Fordsburg—Market Square—Doornfontein (Siemert Road). Newtown—Market Square—Wolhuter. Braamfontein—Market Square—Troyeville (Bezuidenhout Valley). Parktown—Government Square—Kensington. Hospital Hill—Government Square—Rosettenville.

Mordey and Dawbarn did not specify routes in the outer suburbs, since this matter was to be decided jointly by the Johannesburg Municipal Tramways and the township companies, but they recommended that Parktown, Kensington, Malvern and Rosettenville should be connected to the inner system. These four suburbs were later joined by many other areas in the clamour for tramway extensions, most of which were later built. The report divided the proposed services into three groups for frequency purposes-central lines, lines with little or no early traffic and lines with light traffic. For the first group, a basic ten minute service was proposed, increased to five minutes before 09:30 and 17:00 to 18:30 and to three and a half minutes


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS from 13:00 to 14:30. The sharp mid-day peak has always been a feature of Johannesburg Riffle and it was then much more pronounced that in comparable British towns. On lines without early traffic the same intervals were proposed, but with service commencing at 07:00 instead of 05:30 the third group of lines was to have a service of half the above frequencies, starting either at 05:30 or 07:00, depending on the early service factor. No difference was made between weekdays and Saturdays, while on Sundays all routes were to have a ten-minute interval service, commencing at 10:00, the last car running at 22:00. An initial purchase of forty cars was recommended, to be of two different types—one open, the other closed—and after experience of each type, the total strength was to be increased to 100 cars, the sixty additional cars being of the type found most suitable. For working the above service, the Report estimated that the cars would have to cover 2,758,340 miles per year, whilst the revenue per car mile was estimated at 20d, assuming a minimum fare of 2d. For the first full year of operation, from July 1906 to June 1907, the total car mileage was estimated at 1,567,416 and the revenue 30.9d per car mile. In all, capital expenditure on the tramways, lighting and power scheme was estimated to amount to £1,290,000.00, this amount to be recovered through a sinking fund spread over a thirty-year period. Work on the preparation of specifications was begun immediately and the first tenders were issued from the London offices of Messrs. Mordey & Dawbarn during March and September 1903. Specification Nº. 1, for track and point work was later partly re-issued, a tender for points and crossings having been accepted from Messrs. Hadfield of Sheffield. All tenders had been received by March 1904, by which time the Council had raised a loan of £5 million, of which £1½ million was allocated to the tramway and electricity undertaking. Tenders were received for the generating plant for both steam and gas power, in the latter case with a gas-production plant also. While a steam plant would have cost £28,000 less than the gas plant, it was expected that the use of the latter type would show an annual saving of £15,000, the thermal efficiency of gas power being then rather higher than that of steam and its tolerance of indifferent fuel greater. Not many such plants were then in use in connexion with electric tramways, though they were common enough in industry, but in England, Walthamstow Corporation Tramways had a producer gas/gas engine generating station and its success had


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS helped this system off to a low-cost start. On the advice of Professor W. C. Unwin, professor of engineering at the Central Technical College in London, Johannesburg rather bravely decided on gas, thus pioneering this type of machinery in southern Africa. The contract for the gas plant was awarded originally to a firm, Poetter, in Dortmund, and that for the electrical machinery to D. Stewart and Company of Glasgow; Poetter, perhaps sensing trouble, later withdrew and the entire contract went to Stewart for an agreed price of ÂŁ210,263 13s. 0d. The Council thought that it would in any case be more convenient to have all the work done by one contractor. The plant was to be completed if possible within forty-five weeks from April 6, 1904, and in any case not later than August 6, 1906. If it were not completed by that date, penalties would be incurred. Much of the equipment was in fact supplied by Joseph Beardmore, head of another firm of engineers in Glasgow, who financed this by issuing bills of exchange to a total value of ÂŁ37,000. In due course, workmen arrived from Scotland and erection of the plant began. Apart from one shipment of material which was lost at sea, all arrived safely, but the contractors complained that the building was not ready and some of the machinery had to remain for weeks in the open, covered by tarpaulins. There were eight retorts, each supposedly capable of gasifying six tons of Transvaal coal per day, and eight gas engines, variously of 2,000 and 1,000 Hp, driving eight generators. Four of these were 2 phase alternators which supplied alternating current at 3,000 volts to substations, where it was stepped down to 600 volts for use on the tramways. The other four engines drove dynamos to provide direct current for general purposes. The contractor was to work the plant for one year after completion. Not all the engineers were ready in time for the opening of the electric service in 1906, and in June and July of that year, the Council sent cables to Scotland, as a result of which Stewart and Co. replaced their resident engineer in Johannesburg. A new contract was then drawn up, but the plan was not completed until well after the final date mentioned therein and in fact it never functioned as a whole, because the engines which were first in service then began to break down. But before proceeding with that tale of misfortune, it is appropriate to describe the other features of the original system.


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS Street track consisted of British Standard Nยบ2 Vignoles grooved rail laid on concrete stringers, while the reservations used flat-bottomed rail spiked directly to hardwood (djati) sleepers laid in crushed stone ballast. Track in unpaved streets was similar to that on reservation, but after ballasting, the road was brought up to rail level with ashes or gravel. Most of the track on the outskirts of the city was laid on reservation, generally at the side of the road, and it was unfortunate that much of this was re-laid as street track when roads were widened in later years. Contrary to British practice, checkrail was not provided on reserved track, except on the more severe curves, where rail from the horse tramways was used. The tyres used in Johannesburg were therefore wider than those used by British systems, at least in the early years. No accidents were ever attributed to the absence of checkrail, although the operation of double-deck cars on such track would have been frowned on in Britain. It was customary to insert a section of grooved rail where reserved track crossed a paved road; checkrail had originally been used but the space between it and the main rail quickly became tilled with stones and gravel. Rail joints were fished and belted; welding was later introduced. The overhead was of standard British design. On double track section, side poles and span wires were general, although some streets in the central area, such as Eloff Street, were graced with centre poles with curving bracket arms. Bracket arms were used on some single track sections, and two running wires were provided throughout to obviate the need for overhead frogs at passing loops. Originally all points and frogs were hand operated. Later, electric points and frogs were introduced, the overhead at crossovers was removed and the hand operated crossover points were replaced by trailing crossovers with spring-loaded points. The feeders and section pillars were to the British Board of Trade standard, except that bare feeders were run along the bracket arms in certain places, guarded only by 7/16in strand wire above them. All feeder pillars had portable telephones. The poles were supplied by R. W. Blackwell & Co. and the galvanised steel overhead by Dick, Kerr & Co. By the end of December 1904, track-laying had advanced considerably. The double track in Main Street had been completed between Von Brandis Street and the Natal Spruit (Maritzburg Street), while preliminary work in most other streets was well in hand. The Biccard Street water main had been shifted away from the road centre and track-laying had begun there. The first of the inner area services


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS was expected to be in operation by September 1905 with the first of the outer suburban lines ready in February 1906. While the first tracks were being laid, there were many meetings held by various groups of affected ratepayers to acclaim or abuse the proposed routes, and the newspapers of 1903 and 1904 were filled by route proposals, rejections, counter-proposals and the justifications advanced by the JMT and Mordey and Dawbarn for their decisions. Various misfortunes delayed the opening of the first route so that on November 7, 1905, an announcement was made by Mordey & Dawbarn to the effect that it would not be opened until February of the following year at the earliest. When asked for their reasons, Mordey & Dawbarn said that "contract work in South Africa somehow seemed to work out differently from British practice". By the end of 1905, track had been laid in Main, Sauer, Market, Siemert and Harrison Streets and work in the central area was almost complete. The first rolling stock had been shipped and the first two cars had been assembled and were ready for use by November 26th. This work had been carried out at the old Johannesburg City & Suburban Tramway Company's workshops in President Street, as the new depot was not yet ready for use. A further 19 cars were being assembled at the same time while the parts for another 18 were spread out between Preston and Johannesburg on various forms of transport, being shipped from Liverpool to Durban and taken on from there by rail. On February 14th, 1906, the long-awaited opening of Johannesburg's first electric tramway took place. A great crowd had assembled in Market Square to witness the departure of the first car. At the appointed hour (no one seems to have noted the actual time, but it was somewhere between 07:00 and 08:00) the conductor ponderously snapped his watch shut, solemnly saluted the Mayor, Mr. Quinn, rang the bell and called out, "All aboard for Siemert Road". On this signal the driver sounded the gong which initiated a general rush for seats on the car. With everybody more or less safely settled, the car moved off under loud cheering from the assembled crowd. Some accounts say that a bottle of champagne was broken over the car's dash. The journey through the streets was uneventful, except for the shying horses usually associated with an event of this type. Six days


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS later the western section of the old "main line" from Market Square to Fordsburg was opened, and the horse-operated service was discontinued. Another new section was opened far traffic on February 27th this was the Twist Street route which replaced the old Doornfontein horse service, which was then cut back to the corner of Commissioner and End Streets. Earlier both the Doornfontein services had been shortened to terminate at the corner of End and Beit Streets to enable electric track to be laid in the latter thoroughfare. The Market Square — Fordsburg and Market Square — Siemert Road services were worked as a single through service. The Fordsburg terminus was at Fordsburg Market Square (Church Street), and the Siemert Road terminus at the Central South African Railway level crossing in Siemert Road. An extension at the latter end to Bertrams had been planned; hut had to be held over until the completion of a viaduct, as the C.S.A.R. would not allow tramlines to cross the railway on the level at this point. Most of this route was virtually level with the exception of a short section west of the city where the line crossed the Fordsburg Dip. It consisted of a long gradual descent from town and a short, but sharp, climb towards Fordsburg. The Twist Street route was level as far as Joubert Park, which in those days was a piece of bushveld with a fence round it; from Smith Street the line began to climb and terminated just short of the crest of the hill, in the suburb appropriately known as Hillbrow. These three routes formed the backbone of the network which was to spread over Johannesburg during the next five years. Before going into the history of the various routes, mention must be made of the Radial Route Scheme which had been drawn up as an extension to Mordey & Dawbarn's central network. It provided for a complete circle of routes radiating from the city and covering the suburbs in such a fashion that no person lived more than 1/3 mile from a tramway route. The municipal authorities also hoped that this method would enable them to levy rates from all suburbs equally. Although this scheme properly belongs to a later period, it has been mentioned here since part of the inner network was built with an eye to these further extensions. As not all the outer routes were eventually built as planned, it sometimes accounts for the seemingly illogical location of a route in the inner area.



In tracing the history of the various routes a fixed sequence will be adhered to in the following chapters; it coincides generally with the JMT route grouping: 1. North Eastern Routes After the opening of the Twist Street route to Kotze Street in February 1906, it was not until December of that year that the track on Twist Street was extended northward. On the 19th of that month the service was extended to East Avenue; the final terminus at Louis Botha Avenue was opened in July 1907. The single track extension had a length of 1/2 mile and was all on gradient; coming from the city the track climbed to the top of the ridge and then fell to the Clarendon Circle terminus. Including the original route, this gave a continuous incline of half a mile, a heavy climb for the cars. The Yeoville route left Twist Street at the Kotze Street terminus and ran roughly eastward with several sharp left and right turns, necessitated by the rather cramped street layout. At one point in Hillbrow, the narrowness of the streets necessitated the construction of single tracks in different streets for each direction. In Abel Road, there was a steep gradient as cars ascended the hill before turning eastward into Berea. Opened as double track throughout on June 29th 1906, the line always carried a heavy traffic which grew in later years, as it traversed the Hillbrow/Berea/Bellevue flat-building area. One of the radial routes provided for was to run through northern Doornfontein and Bertrams to the northern part of Bezuidenhout Valley. If was to be reached from both Siemert Road and Twist Street, the latter line being the first to be opened. This was done in stages during August 1906, the route's final terminus—Judith Paarl—being reached on August 25th. The section from Bertrams to Judith Paarl was single track with a passing loop at Viljoen Street. A payment of £6,000 had been promised by the Bezuidenhout Valley Township Company for a further extension from Judith Paarl along Bezuidenhout Avenue to Fifth Street. For various reasons the money was never paid and the plan lapsed. Although revived in the 1930s nothing was ever done beyond the planning stage. The entire Judith Paarl route was virtually level and as far as Bertram Road double track. It also passed through a densely populated district, although traffic fell off


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS later as a result of a shift of population away from the area, part of which gradually deteriorated in social standing while the rest was taken over for use as small workshops and warehouses. A useful source of revenue on the line was Ellis Park, the venue for many international Rugby football and tennis events; on these occasions, cars were filled to capacity and many extras had to be run to cope with the crowds. These specials ran from Ellis Park direct to various suburbs through the city, long after ordinary through services had disappeared. 2. The Eastern Routes The eastern suburbs of Johannesburg are formed in roughly the shape of a trident, the gaps between the prongs being filled by a succession of steep hills. On the northern side the area is bounded by the Observatory Ridge, on the southern side by the main line of the South African Railways. The three separate valleys, which have only limited intercommunication through two or three passes, were in 1906 each controlled by a township company which was responsible for the sale of land and the negotiations with the municipal authorities for the services and amenities to be provided in the area. These three companies, the Malvern Estates Company, the Kensington Township Company and the Bezuidenhout Valley Township Company, each wished its suburb to be served by tramways and undertook to supply capital for the construction of track and to provide a guarantee covering the municipality against working losses. When all ground had been sold, these companies disappeared and the municipality then provided such amenities as were still lacking. There had been much discussion over the route that was to be followed to the eastern suburbs. Mordey and Dawbarn favoured a line along Main Street while the majority of residents wanted one along Commissioner Street. This latter was rejected by the contractors on the grounds that it would involve additional curves with subsequent increased wear on car wheels and track, and that the difference in height between road and railway at Jeppe would cause considerable difficulty in the construction of an under- or over-bridge. As Commissioner Street is the wider thoroughfare and the main route from west to cast across the city, the wisdom of Mordey and Dawbarn's scheme is to be doubted; the attraction of a


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS service along this street would in later years have repaid the extra cost of building a bridge. As constructed, the eastern routes ended up with bottle-necks in the approaches to Bezuidenhout Valley and Kensington, of which one could have been eliminated and the other much shortened. On March 28, 1906, the first section of track to the eastern suburbs was opened for traffic, from Government Square (now Van der Bijl Square) to Betty Street in the suburb of City and Suburban, the site of a former gold mine. This point, the junction for the later Wolhuter service, remained the terminus until the completion of the bridge under the railway from Johannesburg to Elandsfontein. This work was completed during May and on the 23rd of that month the road was opened for trams. After some final adjustments had been made to the section of track beyond the railway, service was extended to Grace Street on May 26th. The following day the single track to Troyeville (Bezuidenhout Valley) was opened to Bezuidenhout Street. The service to Blenheim Street on the Kensington route was begun during June 1906 while the Malvern route (described later) was extended to First Street and the Wolhuter service was inaugurated in July. The latter was a short line, constructed to serve the City and Suburban and North Doornfontein gold mines, and the single track, after zigzagging through the cramped streets of Jeppestown, terminated at the Main Reef Road on the Wolhuter boundary, within walking distance of Main Street. As originally planned, the line would have been more direct and with a more southerly terminus, but it would have skirted open mining ground for half of its length and the scheme was therefore abandoned in favour of a line following the old horse-tram track. During June 1907, the Bezuidenhout Valley track was extended to Fifth Street, but was opened for service only to Firs: Street, as the JMT and the Bezuidenhout Valley Township Company was unable to reach a final agreement over a working guarantee. Finally the Company paid ÂŁ6,000 and the trams began to run to Fifth Street on August 18, 1909. The Malvern Estates Co. paid ÂŁ10,743 for an extension along Jules Street from First Street to Monmouth Street which was opened during March 1907. The track was single and laid in the centre of the gravel road, the overhead being hung from span wires. On the double track section in Jules Street, as far as First Street, centre poles with double brackets were used. This system, which was later extended to Monmouth Street after the doubling of this part of the route,


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS claimed numerous victims amongst motorists overtaking tram-cars, and was later abandoned in favour of span wires. The Malvern route distinguished itself by being the longest stretch of straight track in Johannesburg, almost three miles along Jules Street. At the Monmouth Street terminus, a small depot and quarters for staff were constructed to house the last two outward cars of the day, which returned the following morning as the first two city-bound cars. The practice of stabling last cars in the suburbs was discontinued during 1910 and the depot was then used for the storage of works vehicles and trailers. During 1929 it was transferred to the Electricity Department and still later was sold to Messrs. Fotheringham's Bakery, whose premises still occupy the site. It was a flourishing route from the beginning and always carried a frequent service. There were no gradients of any note except for the section in Berg Street, which was to claim several victims amongst ne all-metal cars of 1936. Half-a-mile further northward the Malvern route was paralleled by the Kensington track, which had a somewhat chequered history. The Kensington Township Company bad paid £17,599 for an extension from Fairview to King Edward Street, which was opened as a single roadside track on February 16th 1907, and had also promised a guarantee of £12,000 against working losses. Patronage was so poor, that four months later the service was cut back to Good Hope Street and for five years the last half mile of track lay derelict. Not until 1910 was service over this track resumed and the Company's guarantee expired in 1912. In contrast to the Malvern route, the track to Kensington included several gradients, of which Kensington Hill, between King Edward and Good Hope Streets presented a heavy pull for inward-bound cars. Although Roberts Avenue is of ample width, the single track was later moved to the centre of the road, a rather unfortunate move as in later year’s patronage increased to such an extent that a fast service, free from road traffic, would have been desirable. 3. The Southern Routes To the south of Johannesburg proper lies the southern suburbs group, separated from the rest of the city by a wide strip of mining ground and a multiple track electric railway. In 1906 only Turffontein was fully built up, with scattered houses in Forest Hill, La Rochelle and Rosettenville. Regent's Park was another built-up


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS area but was completely isolated. The area's only other attraction at the time was the race course. Public transport in the area was handled by private bus operators and traffic was mainly from Turffontein/Booysens and Ophirton to Johannesburg. On race days there was a heavy flow of traffic to Turffontcin and additional traffic came from miners travelling between the Forest Hill Hostel and the mining zone. Mordey and Dawbarn's original scheme already provided for a direct Turffontein/Forest Hill route and a route from town to Ophirton and Booysens. The former route was to run south along Von Wielligh Street, reaching Turffontein by cutting westward across the mining ground south of the city and then along Eloff Street Extension to the race course. The second route was to follow Sauer Street and Booysens Road as far as Booysens, with a possible extension planned along Heronmere Road and Turf Club Street, also terminating at the race course. Eventually the Von Wielligh Street plan was discarded and a direct route to Turffontein sacrificed in favour of on: more devious but serving Ophirton and Booysens on the way. The original plan was amended to include an extension along the southern side of the race course to Rosettenville Corner, and the entry into Turffontein was moved westward to Beaumont Street as the Heronmere Road track would have traversed half a mile of waste ground before it entered Turffontein. The resulting route was a marvel of indirectness, and although little used beyond Hay Street, it was the only one of the Southern Suburbs routes that survived until after the Second World War. It was opened in sections; reaching Booysens Corner (Beaumont Street) during July 1906, the race course on August 4th, 1906, and Rosettenville Corner on August 22nd. The track was double as far as the race course entrance at Hay Street, and the single track beyond had one passing loop, at Leonard Street. There was a crossing with an industrial siding near the lower end of Sauer Street and a few yards south of this, at Village Road, the trade left the road and ran on private right of way on the eastern side of Booysens Road all the way to Beaumont Street where it returned to the street. There was a crossover at Ophirton, where several cars overturned in later years. One was a single truck native car, and this led to the immediate withdrawal of all single truck cars from the route, followed shortly afterwards by its closure. As far as the race course, the track was in the road; the final section to Rosettenville ran on its own right of way on the northern side of Turf Club Road where it later connected with the direct Rosettenville route. The circle formed on completion of the later was over six miles in length, town track excluded, and of this more than


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS five miles was laid on private right of way. Nearly half the route ran through open spaces and offered little hope of any traffic. 4. The Western Routes The Fordsburg route, mentioned previously, was the only one to be opened at once to a point beyond the old horse tram terminus. Admittedly it was only one block longer, but the other routes duplicating horse tramways had to wait until later for extension. Although a tramway to Newlands had been provided for in the original scheme, there was much uncertainty over the route it was to follow through Newtown, which the Council referred to as an "insanitary area", and the first section of track was not opened until March 3rd, 1909. It was not until after the completion of the Vrededorp Bridge in 1913, which cost ÂŁ22,000 of which the S.A.R. contributed ÂŁ6,868 that the track could be extended further, to Wolhuter Street. 5. The North Western Routes. North of what is now Empire Road there lay Braamfontein Wood, an extensive eucalyptus plantation which covered the ridge north of the city. North of this there lay the suburbs of Rosebank and Parktown North, and the garden city Sachsenwald, later for patriotic reasons renamed Saxonwold. Most of the area was undeveloped ground, part of which was being laid out as a zoological garden and park, which even at that time was already becoming an attraction for Johannians, and the petrol electric buses of the Johannesburg Consolidated Investment Company handled a heavy traffic at weekends. Another Estate company, the Braamfontein Company, wanted a tramway to serve the new Parktown township and offered to contribute the whole cost of constructing a double track line along the Old Pretoria Road, to a point 21 miles from the General Post Office, a point about half a mile north of the present Empire Road, on the proviso that a service with an interval of not more than fifteen minutes would be run. The JMT agreed to construct this route if the Braamfontein Company was prepared to construct a road along the tramway. Although primarily intended to serve Braamfontein and Parktown the JMT realised the traffic potential of the Zoological Gardens and planned an extension beyond the point requested by the Braamfontein Company. During 1909, as part of the radial route scheme, a further extension along the Old Pretoria Road, Nottingham Road


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS and Blandford Road was planned, which was to serve the suburbs of Sachsenwald, Parkwood, and Rosebank. The first part of this route, from the City to Woodview Road was opened on June 22nd, 1906. The track was double to just north of Empire Road and single beyond, and was extended to the Zoo gates at Lower Park Drive some months later. The single track soon proved itself incapable of coping with the heavy Zoo traffic and was doubled in 1909. As far as Oxford Road track was laid in the street, beyond it ran on private right of way on the left hand side of the Old Pretoria Road (now renamed Jan Smuts Avenue). In later years road improvements along the eastern side of the University grounds allowed the entire track in Jan Smuts Avenue to be placed on reservation, part of which was on an embankment above the level of the road. From the Zoo gates, there was over half a mile of heavy gradient for city-bound cars and on several occasions, the sub-station proved to be incapable of coping with more than one car at a time on this section. In later years, cars were required to run at quarter-mile intervals. The Park town route was highly scene. It ran through a wooded and hilly area which was the location for many stately mansions while, near Loch Avenue, upper deck passengers were afforded magnificent views of the main building of the University of the Witwatersrand. The opening of the first section of the Melville route on July 14, 1906, meant the end of the horse tram in Johannesburg. The original terminus was at the edge of Braamfontein Cemetery, from where the line was soon extended to Goldman Street in Vrededorp. A further extension, single track on private right of way, was opened to the fourth-eastern point of the Auckland Country Club during September 1906; later extensions were not made until 1910. During 1906 two link lines in the central area were opened, from Market Street to De Villiers Street via Harrison Street on September 26, and from Eloff Street to Troye Street via Plein Street. The latter had been intended to traverse Noord Street, but Plein Street was used instead at the request of the C.S.A.R. who wished to close part of Noord Street to through traffic to serve the stat on area. Both lines served to relieve the original tracks which were becoming overloaded. All Braamfontein cars now ran via Harrison Street and cars to the north-eastern suburbs ran via Eloff and Troye Streets alternately. Services were originally distinguished by a colour light code, which was as follows: Twist Street, red/yellow; Norwood, green/green; Yeoville, one green light; Observatory,


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS green/white; Judith Paarl, red/red; Bertrams, one red light; Siemert Road, one white light; Bezuidenhout Valley, blue/blue; Kensington, red/blue; Malvern, yellow/yellow; Wolhuter, yellow/green; Rosettenville, Regent's Park and (after 1923) Forest Hill, red/green; Forest Hill (pre 1923), Rosettenville via Turffontein and Turffontein, blue/yellow; Mayfair, one yellow light; Crown Mines, yellow/yellow; Newlands, blue/blue; Brixton, one blue light; New Market, red/yellow; Melville, red/green; Rosebank, white/white; and Zoo, blue/yellow. It was certainly quite an achievement on the part of the JMT to have inaugurated eight electric routes in just over six months, vastly extending the horse-car network. But the progress may have been made a shade too quickly and troubles began to descend thick and fast as soon as the system began coping with day-to-day traffic. The next chapter is, therefore, rather a tale of woe.


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS Chapter 3 THE SYSTEM IN OPERATION – 1907 TO 1919 The first year of operation was anything but uneventful. There had obviously been a great deal of slipshod work put into the construction of the tramways, and there were many complaints about the poor condition of the track and the consequent rough riding of the cars. Several stoppages resulted on certain routes while the tracks were repacked or even re-laid. Rail joints at busy crossings were welded instead of bolted from 1907 onwards and this brought some improvement. The use of concrete as a foundation was given up and later extensions were laid on sleeper track. The closing months of 1906 were also marred by two serious accidents. On November 5, Motorman Sketch detected an unusual noise coming from the truck of his car as he drove eastwards along Main Street and, leaning out from the platform to investigate it, he was struck and fatally injured by a car travelling on the adjacent track. Exactly a month later, car 51 overturned when turning west from Tudhope Avenue into Abel Road. The 'intersection was badly lit and the motorman misjudged his speed on the Tudhope Avenue gradient, taking the corner at a fairly high speed. The upper deck of the car was completely destroyed; fortunately the few passengers were all sitting downstairs and only four of them, along with the motorman, received injuries. All were discharged from hospital after receiving first aid treatment. The tram was so badly damaged that it was withdrawn and not rebuilt. Some years later, the truck and under-frame reappeared as the foundation of a tower wagon. But these trials were as nothing compared to those which soon began to emanate from the power station. Torrential rains late in 1906 caused several breakdowns, and soon the engines themselves began to give trouble. In December 1906 there were twenty-five complete stoppages of the system; by March 1907 this had risen to seventy-nine and by April to three hundred and twelve. Trams which did run were usually followed by a number of hansom cabs and boys with spare bicycles awaiting the probable breakdown, and conductors were instructed not to collect fares until passengers alighted or the car broke down, whichever came first. One enterprising bicycle supplier made the trams the theme of his advertisement:WHY??? Ride on the trams and trust to luck to get to the office


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS WHY??? Be late for dinner-perhaps get there in time for breakfast. Our cycles are faster and more dependable” The Council estimated that these stoppages were losing about £5,000 per week in revenue. In March 1907, a greaser working at the power station was killed, thus bringing the Council's attention to the employment of non-Europeans by the contractor. This had in fact been going on since January and was against a "fair wages" clause in the original contract. By April, the contractors were in such financial straits that the Council had to advance them £700 to pay the wages bill. In spite of this, and another £300 early in May, the contractors were forced to close and abandon the plant at 08:00 on May 15, 1907, having given to the Council only a few hours' notice. By using the very small lighting plant which the Council had inherited from the Local Board, it was possible to maintain a service of six cars on the Belgravia-Fordsburg route. Otherwise, all services ceased and 150 employees were laid off on half pay, while others were dismissed. The Council had meanwhile hurriedly bought steam engines for the power station and, as these arrived, full service was gradually restored between June 1 and 15. On July 5 the Council formally rejected the gas plant and began the difficult task of trying to regain some of its lost revenue as legal damages. Their grounds for so doing were that it was completely unsatisfactory and, according to three prominent mining engineers and R. A. Dawbarn, it would have cost £75,000 to rectify the deficiencies, and even then the plant would not have reached the desired output. For their part, Stewart and Company blamed the delay in erecting the building, the use of inferior coal and the addition of blowers, at the Council's request. As the legal case developed, complications emerged. Most of the construction had been financed, not by D. Stewart and Company but by Joseph Beardmore, a Glasgow engineer, who had issued bills to the tune of £37,000 and had also manufactured £25,000 worth of the plant: he had also guaranteed the original and supplementary contracts by a bond for £115,000 dated April 13, 1907. Such a burst of optimism, or the full knowledge of his awkward position, must have been too much for Beardmore, as he shortly afterwards died in England,


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS intestate and with his affairs in some confusion. The Council then prepared a case against his widow but she, taking advantage of the difference between English and Scots law, said that she did not represent him as he had died in England, while the case related to goods made in Scotland. Thus when the case was finally opened in the Court of Session in Edinburgh in 1908, it was immediately adjourned (sisted) to allow arbitration to take place in England, but, Lord Mackenzie added, there was no reason why it should not be tried in Scotland if necessary. Arbitration was evidently impossible, for by July 1909 the Council was appealing to the House of Lords over this clause in the contract, only to find that the Lord Chancellor referred the entire case back to the Court of Session. A pause then ensued while evidence was collected; the Council thoughtfully sent a sample of Transvaal coal to Edinburgh along with a petition (February 1910) to speed up the hearing. For this activity, they were rewarded with expenses of £273 from the defendants (defenders, under Scots law). Finally in October 1911 the case was heard and Johannesburg was awarded £115,000 from Beardmore's heirs, £223,000 from D. Stewart and Company and costs. But the troubles did not end there, as Wm. Beardmore (Mrs. Beardmore having also died) could pay only £100,000 and this Council accepted in April 1912, together with the right to the disused and decrepit gas plant. It was unfortunate that the Council's pioneering efforts with such plant resulted in disappointment and legal wrangling. No doubt it would have encountered difficulties with any supplier, but it did in the end appear that Stewart and Company had promised too much to gain the contract and had then been guilty of bad workmanship. While running the plant, they had not maintained it properly and there had been a complete failure to explain their difficulties to the Council until these had reached unmanageable proportions. The financing of the business was not altogether above suspicion. No doubt Johannesburg was glad to escape with some money in 1912, although it was doubtful if the final amount fully made up for the losses sustained. A slight diversion from these troubles was provided by a locust storm which struck Johannesburg on March 22, 1907. The loss of visibility was such that two cars collided ·in Twist Street. Morley and Dawbarn had recommended the cars should run through from one route to another to obviate congestion in the central area, and originally the following services were operated:-



Fordsburg-Siemert Road via Market Street. Newtown - Bertrams via Harrison, Market and Troye Streets. Wolhuter-Rosettenville via Market Street. Auckland Park-Troyeville (Bezuidenhout Valley) via Harrison, Market and Troye Streets. Yeoville-Malvern via Eloff Street. Parktown-Kensington via Eloff Street.

Many alterations were made subsequently to obtain a better balance in car loadings and frequencies. As an example, Wolhuter-Rosettenville and Newtown-Bertrams soon became Wolhuter-Newtown and Bertrams-Rosettenville, while later, after declining traffic had .reduced the Wolhuter service to half-hourly, it worked through to Crown Mines, latterly utilising two single-deckers. Fordsburg-Siemert Road later became Fordsburg-Malvern and the Yeoville service was then terminated at Market Square. The opening of the Malvern route caused the Central South African Railways considerable concern. Fares between Denver and Johannesburg were the same for train and tram and many people now forsook the former, mainly to save themselves the walk from the Park Station to the town centre. Railway receipts dropped alarmingly and to combat this, the C.S.A.R. introduced a special express service between George Goch and Langlaate with light two-coach trains. Train fares were also reduced. While these measures checked the drift to the tram, the bulk of passengers were now conveyed by municipal transport and this has remained the case to the present day. At present, most peak-hour trains run express to Denver, stopping only to pick up passengers at Jeppe. Three freight motor cars were commissioned during 1906 and these rendered good service in the transport of ballast, ashes and material for track construction. During 1907 they also began to convey coal from the main power station to the smaller one at Bertrams, while tar and gravel for road-making were also added to the commodities conveyed. In later years, two branches were constructed to gold mines.


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS Chapter 4 CONSOLIDATION AND ENQUIRY 1920-1935 After the spate of new routes opened during the period from 1910 to 1920, the following decade was spent in consolidating the system. Considerable mileage of new track was still opened, but this consisted mainly of completions of or extensions to existing routes. After fifteen years, the original layout in the centre of the town was no longer capable of handling the traffic, and here too, additions and alterations were made. The first such addition to be considered was a loop to relieve Eloff Street of the traffic to the north-eastern suburbs and a plan was drawn up for a single track through Kerk Street or Jeppe Street from Eloff to Harrison Streets. As this would not have done much to relieve Eloff Street of its congestion, subsequent plans were drawn up for a single track loop along Plein, Rissik and Pritchard Streets to Harrison Street. It was intended that it should be used by inward cars only and that the inward track in Eloff Street would be lifted. When they heard of this plan, Eloff Street shopkeepers raised a great outcry over possible loss of patronage and after much discussion, a compromise was reached. All inward cars would run via Eloff Street and every second car would return by the new loop, the others returning along Eloff Street as before. The loop was opened on October 21, 1921, when one of the new bogie cars, gaily decorated, was driven over it by the chairman of the Tramways and Lighting Committee. Up to the 1920's, through running between different routes was the rule, various permutations on the arrangements mentioned in Chapter Three having been tried. Around 1920, the services were:• • • • •

Crown Mines-Wolhuter Auckland Park-Troyeville via Harrison Street Mayfair-Malvern via Eloff Street Parktown-Kensington via Eloff Street Bertrams-Rosettenville via Troye Street.

The Yeoville, Norwood and Newtown services terminated at the City-Hall. The increase in motor traffic made it difficult for the trams to maintain schedules on


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS long through workings and these were gradually withdrawn. By 1923, only the first three listed still ran. It was now discovered that more congestion was being caused on the south side of the City Hall by the increased number of trams terminating there. To ease this congestion, the services to the south and east were given new termini away from Market Street. A single track loop from Market Street to Eloff Street was constructed along Harrison and Commissioner Streets and all the services to the southern and eastern suburbs were given boarding points on the loop, which was opened during 1924. In practice, it merely transferred the congestion to Harrison Street and a second loop had to be built later. As a further move to improve the flow of traffic, the terminus of the Mayfair, Crown Mines and Turffontein services was moved from the City Hall to the south side of the Library Gardens, a distance of about three hundred yards, and the last through services were abandoned in 1925. The terminal pattern established in the 'twenties remained virtually unchanged for the rest of the trams' existence and Johannesburg thus joined Birmingham and London in the ranks of tramway operators who denied their patrons the benefit of through services across the central area; the improvement 5n punctuality no doubt compensated for this. In 1920 a passenger claimed ÂŁ4,500 damages for the loss of an eye: while riding on the front balcony of a car on the Melville route, he had been struck by the overhanging branch of a tree. His claim was ultimately settled for ÂŁ2,000. The routes to the eastern suburbs traversed narrow streets in Belgravia and here, too, congestion was becoming a problem. To allow one-way working in the area, both the Kensington and Bezuidenhout Valley routes were given additional single tracks in adjacent streets in Belgravia. That for the Kensington route, through Commissioner Street, was opened in January 1923, followed some months later by the Janie Street track for Bezuidenhout Valley. In the same year, both of these routes were extended at their outer ends. The Kensington line had reached Marathon Street in November 1922 and in December 1923 it was extended to Ocean Street. In November of the latter year the Bezuidenhout Valley track was extended to Eighth Street. Both extensions were single track, that to Kensington being on roadside reservation.






JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS Except for the Turffontein circular route and the Forest Hill branch, none of the promised routes to the southern suburbs had been opened by 1920, and the only major developments took place in this area. On August 4, 1923, a double track line to the race course was opened from Springfield Junction, affording a more direct route to Forest Hill. During the following year, single-track lines to Rosettenville and Regent's Park were opened. Both inaugural runs were made by car 181, at the time the JMT's newest addition to the fleet. Two extensions which brought the Regent's Park route to the township's eastern boundary were opened during 1930, thus completing the route system in the southern area. With the exception of the Springfield Junction-race course line, all the extensions were on reserved track in the centre of the road. During 1924, a special loop was opened at the Agricultural Society Showground at Milner Park for use during the Rand Easter Show, an event that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors annually. In tram days, a continuous shuttle service was operated between Johannesburg station and the Showground, while all services passing Milner Park also carried heavy traffic. The Melville route itself was extended at its outer end to Mulders Drift Road by a single street track, to serve building developments to the west of Melville Township; this line was opened on October 7, 1924. For the heavy week-end traffic to the Zoo and Zoo Lake, it was necessary to double the track as far as Ennis Road, this being completed during 1923, while simultaneously; the track in Jan Smuts Avenue past the University Grounds was moved to a reservation when the road was improved. The same period (December 16, 1925) saw the ill-advised extension from Parktown North to Rosebank (Oxford Corner), a single track on a reservation constructed at the expense of one pavement. Patronage of this line was never good and dwindled almost to nothing when the direct Oxford Road bus route was inaugurated some years later. Together with the Wolhuter line, it was the first extension to be permanently abandoned. Together with the last of the major extensions came the first abandonments, although these did not affect the passenger routes. By 1922-23 the largest road improvements had been completed and all main roads were now surfaced. The remaining freight and sprinkler cars now lay idle in the depot. In the early 1920s


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS the holding sidings for the sprinkler cars were lifted, as were the ballast sidings at the Ferreira Deep and City and Suburban Mines. At various points on single track lines additional passing loops were constructed to cope with the increased traffic, whilst manually operated electric signals were introduced at some points. Later automatic signals were introduced on the busier lines; the Melville route was the last to retain manual signals, which it did until 1936. A new livery of blue and grey was introduced with car 170 built in 1922. During the years after the First World War, the JMT had to contend with similar difficulties in the field of labour relations as were experienced by operators in Britain. In 1918, the platform staff staged a sympathetic strike in support of the engineers' union and in 1919 there was a brief strike by all municipal employees. In 1920 a much longer strike, known as the Oliver Strike, took place; its causes are not recorded. Industrial unrest was reflected by the rapidly changing wage-rates of the period. Possibly to combat these troubles, an advisory committee of seven employees had been set up by the council in 1919. Its suggestions seem to have been somewhat radical -though it is not now clear what they actually were and in 1920 an enquiry into its working was held, with the chief magistrate of the town as chairman. It was dissolved in 1922. Of all the events of the decade the Rand Revolt of 1922 left the most unpleasant memories. It began as a local strike at the Kleinfontein Gold Mine near Benoni, after the management, faced with a sharp decline in profits, had demanded longer hours without extra pay from its underground workers. There was much dissatisfaction with working conditions generally and many sympathetic strikes broke out. Although things were generally quiet at first and confined to the Eastern Witwatersrand, an extremist leftist movement advocated violence, and after weeks of idleness and hunger had been suffered by the strikers, this fell on ready ears. The revolt started its period of violence when strikers attacked the offices of the Brakpan Mine and massacred the clerical staff who was not on strike. Events moved swiftly thereafter. Strikers formed themselves into armed bands and, with the intention of overthrowing the Government took over control of various towns along the Reef. In Johannesburg the western suburbs of Fordsburg, Westdene, and Brixton were in the hands of the strikers when martial law was declared in early March 1922. A


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS hurriedly mobilised army moved south from Pretoria to Johannesburg and street fighting broke out. All public services, including the trams came to a standstill. On March 10 Brixton was bombarded to dislodge the strikers and four days later Fordsburg was captured by the army after considerable fighting. These two actions broke the back of the Revolt and the strike came to an official end on March 17. Order was soon restored and trams returned to service on the 23rd. The only damage sustained by the JMT was broken windows and overhead wires. An incident more serious for the JMT was the collision between tram 129 and a train on the level crossing in Eloff Street Extension on November 16, 1924, in which over eighty passengers were injured. Several succumbed to their injuries afterwards. Although no records on the cause of the accident have been found it appears that the tram failed to observe the semaphore signal protecting the crossing. As a direct result of this incident two of the level crossings on the southern suburbs routes, which involved a double track railway with heavy mineral traffic, were eliminated and replaced by overbridges. After the Rand Revolt, a period of industrial peace descended on Johannesburg and the tramways. In 1926 the Town Council set up a conciliation board to deal with disciplinary offences; it consisted of one councillor, one employee and the General Manager or his representative. But in 1928 the men's union expressed dissatisfaction with the board's hearing of appeals, which were henceforth dealt with by the Tramways Committee. The board thereafter declined in importance and ultimately disappeared. In 1927 the Council decided to increase the number of spreadover duties, that is duties where the total hours worked in a day were not consecutive but divided by time off work. The union objected to this and the dispute was submitted to an arbitration board headed by a Mr. A. J. Downes; this board upheld the objection and the demand was dropped. In 1935, Mr. Downes presided over another arbitration board. Apart from dealing with wages, etc., this board also suggested that all employees should be members of the Council's provident fund and that the Department should set up a pension fund for employees with at least ten years' service. It also recommended that all employees should be members of the union. Al11Jhese suggestions were accepted by both the Council and the union and came into force in September 1936.


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS Over the years, the tramway-men of Johannesburg developed a slang of their own. Passengers were known as "clients" (Afrikaans klante) and an inspector was a "shark" (haai). A more curious survival was the name "kadallies" for native service cars; Clement Kadallie was a native trade union leader who was active in the early 1920s, and his name continued to be used for these cars long after he had faded into obscurity and the general public had forgotten who he actually was. It is no longer in use. The question of use of the service cars by non-Europeans continued to crop up at intervals during the decade. In 1923 the Council proposed to bring in a bye-law allowing it to set aside separate cars for native service; the Provincial Secretary of the Transvaal did not agree with this and the plan was dropped. Meanwhile, private bus operators had begun to provide services for natives operating vehicles which, the council said, were of a ramshackle type and dangerous. In 1925, the Vrededorp Ratepayers Association forced the Council to revive 1Jhequestion and to propose new bye-laws; this time, the matter reached the notice of the Prime Minister, General Hertzog, who asked the Council not to proceed with the matter as Parliament was then debating the whole question of a colour bar. Again the matter rested, until 1928, when an attempt was made to reserve for natives the front balconies of cars on the Newlands service. As these passengers then made a point of sitting anywhere but there, the arrangement was withdrawn. The JMT was in a very difficult position over this question, as its only native service, to Western Native Township, was losing ÂŁ750 per month and other such services would clearly be unprofitable. The municipal Native Affairs Department was therefore asked to subsidise this service and this was agreed to in 1928. A much improved service was instituted and in the following year a single track extension was laid into the Township proper, at a cost of ÂŁ2,240. Several additional cars were constructed to work the augmented service. Native services were then tried on some other routes, but had to be discontinued after a few months due to lack of patronage. Increased traffic on the Malvern service necessitated doubling part of tlhe route and during 1928 the First Street-Monmouth Street section was reconstructed as double track. During the next year, the Mayfair route received double track throughout and was also extended to George Street to give a better service to the western end of Mayfair.



During the 1920s there were several festive occasions for Johannesburg. In 1925, the Prince of Wales visited the town and as part of the celebrations, 25,000 school children were taken by tram to and from Milner Park for a special function. In 1928, Johannesburg celebrated its fortieth anniversary and attained city status to mark the occasion. Once again, the celebrations created a lot of traffic and the trams were heavily loaded. As in Britain, this was also the decade of the private bus operator. These made heavy inroads into the JMT's revenue and eventually it was decided to recommence municipal bus services. The first was opened on April 1, 1927, and several more followed during the year. Originally these routes served areas not served by the trams and some were feeders to tram routes. In later years, these were extended as through routes to the City, parallel to the tram routes and attracting a considerable amount of traffic away from these. With the introduction of bus services, the total number of passengers carried had shown a sharp increase but the advent of the Depression also touched South Africa and left its mark on public transport. Although both bus and tram passenger mileage increased considerably between 1929 and 1934, traffic remained virtually static and began to decline during the latter year. Some routes continuously showed an increasing number of passengers, but, this increase was virtually cancelled out by the system's unprofitable lines. These were the Norwood and Wolhuter routes, the Park town North - Rosebank Extension, the Crown Mines route and the entire southern suburbs network. On February 1, 1932, buses replaced the Crown Mines trams, but after negotiations with the mine authorities, these were replaced by trams again during 1935. Both the Norwood and Wolhuter services were withdrawn during July 1933 and replaced by buses. In the case of the Norwood service, these followed a more direct route, avoiding the narrow streets of Hillbrow and Bellevue, and gave a quicker service. On the Wolhuter service which was entirely within walking distance of the eastern suburbs main line and Jeppe Station, even buses showed a heavy loss and were discontinued before the end of 1933. At the request of the Mayor, the Manager prepared two reports in 1932 and 1933 dealing with the southern suburbs problem and in these some interesting information was revealed. Notwithstanding the Depression there were no less


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS than 25,000 private cars and 6,000 motor cycles registered amongst Johannesburg's 199,200 white inhabitants. In addition to the transport provided by the South African Railways and the JMT there were 135 taxis and 94 privately operated buses registered. Concerning the JMT's services to the southern suburbs, the report stated that a monthly car mileage of 112,027 was operated utilising 25 cars in the peak period. Monthly revenue was only ÂŁ6,057. The track was due for re-sleepering which was estimated to cost ÂŁ11,000. Meanwhile, six private bus operators, later bought out by the municipality, were running services to the southern suburbs. The suburbs had extended beyond the reach of the tramway routes and money for track extensions was not available. Furthermore the sums were showing a tendency to become self-contained and many people no longer travelled to the City for shopping. The inner fringe of the suburbs had become a native area, causing a further loss of passengers, as natives were not catered for on any scale at the time. It was expected that certain extensions, including one to Gantner Street, Forest Hill, would help to make the routes economical together with a more frequent service. Rolling stock shortage prevented this and the cost of purchasing new cars for this purpose was estimated at ÂŁ69,600, a sum that was not available. Since "the people of the southern suburbs preferred to travel by modern 'transport than by the trams offered by the municipality", abandonment of the southern suburbs group was strongly favoured by the General Manager, but could not then be carried through as there were no buses to work a replacing service. Bus services to points beyond the tram termini had been introduced in some instances and as these paralleled tram routes, they contributed to a certain extent to the poor showing made by the trams. Subsequently, the council adopted this report in full. Although the above all deals with the southern suburbs, things were not well on other parts of the system. From evidence submitted to the Spencer Commission, it seems that the average tram passenger had a lot to put up with. He would probably have to wait for some time at a stop, services being infrequent, and there would be no shelter to protect him from the elements. When a car finally came along, me passenger stood a good chance of boarding the wrong one, as the destination blind would often be wrongly set. The trams were generally dirty and slow, and en route our passenger would have to expect delays at passing loops. If he tried to while away the time by looking out, he would not see much, the window being dirty and covered with out-of-date paper advertisements; if, at night, he tried to read, he would run the risk of eye-strain, as the cars were poorly


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS lit and the lamps unwashed. For this indifferent service, he would have to pay a high fare, particularly if travelling a short distance and the conductor would probably have been uncivil. With all these drawbacks, it is not surprising that the trams were carrying fewer and fewer passengers-the total had declined from 58 million in 1928 to 49 million in 1933-and the annual losses were mounting, reaching £79,000 in 1933. Some local politicians began to advocate the scrapping of all trams, but, because of the capital tied up in the system, the City Council decided to obtain expert advice on future policy; thus was formed the Spencer Commission of Enquiry of 1934. Administrator's Notice Nº52 in the Transvaal Provincial Gazette of January 24, 1934, appointed a commission consisting of Messrs. C. J. Spencer (London Transport), J. R. More (formerly of S.A.R.), and Dr. S. R. Herbert Frankel (University of Witwatersrand). The secretary was Mr. J. S. Lewis, and Mr. A. L. Barber, commercial manager of the London Passenger Transport Board, acted as traffic consultant. Johannesburg was fortunate in being able to secure for this the services of Christopher John Spencer, one of the most distinguished of British tramway managers. He had been appointed manager of Bradford City Tramways at the age of 22 and had moved from that post in 1918 to become general manager of the Metropolitan Electric Tramways in London. At a time when professional opinion was beginning to turn against the tram, Spencer remained a convinced advocate of tramway modernisation and many of his ideas were applied to the "Feltham" cars of 1931. With the formation of London Transport in 1933, his services were no longer essential and he was thus free to travel out to South Africa and examine Johannesburg's, transport problems. No doubt it was largely due to this appointment that Johannesburg modernised its system, alone among South African operators. After the Commission's arrival in Johannesburg on February 28, notice 'was given in, the press that all applications for giving evidence had to be in the Commission’s hands by March 21. March 1, 2, 5, 6, and 7 were spent by the Commission touring the system; the tours were supplemented by trips made by individual members at various times.


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS Such was the number of applications for giving evidence that it was decided that only persons representing substantial bodies of public opinion would be heard. There was considerable reluctance on the part of City Council employees to testify, due to fear of victimisation, so much so that the Council's General Purposes Committee had to pass a resolution "that an assurance will be given to all employees of the Council that there will be no victimisation on account of any evidence which they may give to the Commission ... " Sixteen public sittings were held over the period March 14 to April 16. During these, 16 volumes of evidence were collected, totalling 1,426 pages and comprising 9,524 statements. Many more weeks elapsed before the Commission's findings had been correlated and prepared for publication. Their first report, the "Interim Report on the Municipal Transport System" appeared on June 15, 1934, and this chapter has been based on the information contained in this report. The Commission also reported on the municipal power supply, but their findings on this fall outside the scope of this book. After dwelling briefly on the history of the transport system, the report went on to discuss the factors influencing Johannesburg's transport problem. This is of considerable interest as most of the points mentioned still hold true today-some to an even greater extent. At that time the average density of population per acre was four Europeans, or seven all races combined which, although average for South Africa, was very low when compared with overseas cities. An appendix to the report gave the population density in some British towns operating tramways and from this it appeared that Huddersfield approached Johannesburg most closely with ten persons per acre. The population density of the municipal area varied between one and seventy-five persons per acre, and if uninhabited areas were omitted, it averaged twenty per acre. With this uneven distribution the difficulty of bringing public transport within walking distance of everyone and making a profit can be imagined. Unfortunately the mine dumps and other unproductive areas were (and are) distributed all over the municipality and made up a third of the total area. The Report also pointed out that the ridge of hills which runs roughly from S.W. to N.E. Johannesburg, both forced transport services to follow indirect and twisted


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS routes and also, when combined with the city's altitude of 6,000 feet above sea level, prevented the efficient and economical operation of existing types of diesel motorbuses. Witnesses complained vigorously about the underpowered single-deck buses labouring up the hill to Norwood, leaving a trail of smoky and obnoxious gases, overcrowded with passengers who paid 5d for the privilege of travelling in them, against the former tram fare of 3d. The Commission concluded that changes in both routes and methods of transport were necessary. Each type of transport should be used on the routes for which it was best suited; thus, buses should replace trams on all the southern suburbs services, except that to Turffontein via Booysens, while trolleybuses should replace buses on the Norwood route. The Commission was not sure that trams had a long-term future, but at that time, it could see no practicable alternative to the trams on the majority of routes. The underlying financial position of the undertaking was considered to be sound and it was suggested that ÂŁ1 million could be spent on development without jeopardising this position. It was considered that the JMT was providing too many free services for other municipal and government departments and that in future it should charge for these: for example, the electricity department should pay a rental for those tramway poles which were also used for street lighting. An improved metering system should also be adopted, as the tramways were being charged for more power that they were actually consuming. Because of the high cost of operation and the recommendations which it was making, the Commission could not offer any hope of a general reduction in fares, which, by British standards, were rather high. It did suggest, however, that when double-deck omnibuses were introduced, bus fares should be reduced to the level of the tram fares for, the same length of journey, with a maximum of 4d on the trams. Through services, both tram and bus should be adopted, since the change at City Hall made short, cross-city journeys relatively expensive. The existing fare stages were thought to be too long, since a passenger could find himself paying a 3d fare if he crossed a stage boundary on a journey of 200 yards; it was suggested that shorter stages, with more overlapping, be introduced, both to benefit existing passengers and to attract more short-distance traffic. Fare stages on each route should be altered to be of approximately the same length. For a trial period of six months, cheap 1d mid-day fares should be tried in the central area (the


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS existing minimum was 2d), to reduce in part the disparity between peak and off-peak traffic. Turning now to more specific recommendations on services, the Commission suggested that the southern suburbs enjoyed too generous a service and that this should be reduced from four tram and several bus services to one tram and three bus services. As these areas had no severe gradients, diesel buses could be used, but, since their operation would be at first experimental, the tram track should be left in position and tram service resumed if traffic increased. The tram service to Crown Mines should be resumed, while the feeder bus from Mayfair to Mayfair north should be discontinued. Traffic on the Parktown North-Rosebank section was very light and, as it was already paralleled by a bus service, it should be withdrawn without further replacement. On all other bus services, except that to Bramley, double-deck vehicles should be used. When trolleybuses actually took over the service to Norwood, the fare should be reduced to the former tram level of 3d. During the previous few years, new building between the Observatory and Bezuidenhout Valley had generated much traffic, which was being handled by a bus service running parallel to the tram service to Judith Paarl. This tramway should therefore be extended to Third Street and the bus service withdrawn. The feeder bus which had replaced the Wolhuter trams should also go, since it was carrying few passengers, but the tram track should be left in situ in case of future developments. Generally, the tram services were being hampered by long stretches of single track and, apart from the Melville route; these should be doubled as soon as possible. The maintenance and the cleanliness of rolling stock should both be improved and all cars should be fitted with improved interior lighting and destination indicators. The Commission reported that there was no truth in, the suggestion that the hand-brakes on the four-wheel cars were inadequate, but for the sake of standardisation, it was suggested that these cars should receive air brakes. This would also help to speed up the service. Since four-wheel trams were inadequate


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS for Johannesburg, no more should be bought, but 50 new bogie cars should be ordered at once. The Commission could think of no other city in the world where so large a part of the working population was without adequate transport. It therefore suggested the immediate establishment of a service of native cars on all important routes, with good, clean and attractive rolling stock. The existing service to the Western Native Township could be made to pay if the Newlands track were doubled and trailers introduced. The wages of platform staff in Johannesburg were at this time rather high, both in comparison with other South African undertakings and in comparison with Britain: in fact, a motorman received a higher rate of pay than an engine driver on the S.A.R. after 20 years' service. Yet the Commission felt that there was room for improvement in the efficiency of both motormen and conductors. It suggested that the existing system of recruitment, by which youths were recruited as cleaners, pointsmen or clerical staff, and in time promoted, may have had a demoralising effect on active young men; instead, they should begin as conductors on the buses, then be promoted to trams on merit, at a higher rate of pay, then, if they wished, to driver's rank. A training school should be set up and, the Commission hinted, the JMT might take account of work done in recent years by the National Institute of Industrial Psychology. No doubt the psychology of tram driving would offer it a fruitful field of study, but, if any such work ever was done, the results have not been made public! Henceforth the cars should be cleaned by a mechanical washer (the youths did the job badly in any case) and points should be converted to automatic operation. Paper advertisements should no longer be stuck on the windows of the cars. Generally, the Report, the result of a thorough examination of the problems of transport in Johannesburg, was an interesting attempt to obtain the best and most impartial advice on the transport needs of a particular city. Outside London, few comparable surveys had ever been undertaken on an urban transport system in Britain or the Commonwealth. Its empirical approach and its insistence that there was a role for each mode of transport was in marked contrast to the doctrinaire anti-tram movement which was then gaining ground in Britain. Perhaps it might have said more on traffic problems, rather than transport


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS problems alone, and perhaps it might have taken slightly more account of economic factors; on the other hand, many of its findings are still valid for both Johannesburg and for British urban transport today. That it did not entirely succeed in practice was not the fault of its authors, but of subsequent parsimony on the part of the City Council.


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS Chapter 5 THE LAST QUARTER CENTURY A quarter of a century is a long span of time to cover in one chapter, but so closely allied are the events in this period that it would be difficult to find a convenient division point. Many of the points mentioned in the Spencer Commission's report were given attention and the five years following its appearance saw a rebirth of the tramway system attended by an equally satisfactory increase in patronage and receipts. During January 1935 trams returned on the Crown Mines route and in July 1936 were extended to a new terminus in the Crown Industrial Township. It was hoped that this extension would bring about increased patronage but already the private car had become the chief means of transport to this area and little improvement resulted. The only reason for the prolonged existence of this line was the subsidy paid by Crown Mines Company. Without this the route would have disappeared before the war. Although the Spencer Commission had proposed a sum of ÂŁ1,000,000 for improvements the City Council reduced this; however, the sum of ÂŁ750,000 which was allocated was still a good deal of money and it went a long way to bring about the suggested improvements. As suggested, the southern suburbs tram services were discontinued. They disappeared one by one during 1935. Regent's Park was the first to go, on February 2, and received the honour of being the City's shortest lived route; in its final form it had existed for only five years. The Forest Hill service was discontinued on June 3 while at the same time the city terminus of the Rosettenville and Malvern services was moved to Loveday Street. The depleted service that had still used the Harrison Street loop could easily be accommodated in Loveday Street - especially as the Rosettenville service was also doomed-and the Harrison Street loop was abandoned and the track lifted. One part of the proposed southern suburbs abandonment was not carried out. This was the eastern section of the Booysens-Rosettenville route, a single track running on a


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS reservation along the southern edge of the race course. The reason for the retention of this section of track is -obscure. It ran across the general direction of travel and carried only light traffic. The logical terminus for the route was at the race course entrance (Hay Street) and in later years only a few cars operated beyond this point. During the war no cars at all served Rosettenville Corner on Sundays. After the abandonment of the Rosettenville line on December 2, 1935, the track was lifted relatively quickly. Today the former reservation is in part the site of the Booysens-Faraday branch of the S.A.R. The most urgently required track doubling was attended to as soon as possible and by June 1936 the Twist Street, Bezuidenhout Valley, Kensington, and Newlands routes had been double tracked throughout. At the same time the Mayfair, Bezuidenhout Valley, and Kensington routes were extended for about 1/2 mile in each case. In Troyeville on the Bezuidenhout Valley route, a short section of track remained single due to the narrowness of Bezuidenhout Street, between Arethusa and Appolonia Streets. After road improvements it became possible to double this section and it was completed during February 1938. The other doubling proposals, on the Observatory, Judith Paarl, and Parktown North routes, were not carried out, nor was the proposed extension beyond the Judith Paarl terminus. As early as 1903 the Bezuidenhout Valley Township Company had requested this extension but failed to raise the necessary financial guarantee and the plan revived by the Spencer Commission thirty years later was no more successful. The Rosebank extension tramway was closed on April 4, 1938, and replaced by buses while the feeder bus service from the Township Hotel to Wolhuter was completely discontinued. Patronage on the Wolhuter service had become progressively poorer and, after its conversion to a bus service, dwindled to virtually nothing. The blue and grey livery introduced in 1923 had proved itself unsatisfactory and, following the Spencer Commission's recommendations, a new colour scheme of red and cream with black lining was introduced. By the time this began to be applied, during 1936, not all rolling stock had been repainted blue and grey and for several years afterwards it was possible to see three distinct liveries together; if the two experimental cars in an all-red livery be included, there were four.


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS As mentioned elsewhere fifty new tram cars of modern design were ordered, and the first of these was placed in service during July 1936. It was numbered 15, taking that number from the single deck car, which had just been taken out of revenue service. At an official ceremony, attended by many dignitaries, a bottle of champagne was broken over the new Nº15s’ streamlined bows as it was christened Fannie du Toit: the car never actually carried the name in letters and later all memories of it faded: it was probably intended as a joke rather like the English "Fanny Adams". During the same year Johannesburg celebrated its Golden Jubilee. To mark the occasion, the Empire Exhibition was held at Milner Park from September to December and this provided an excellent opportunity to publicise the new cars, a number of which were concentrated on the Market Street-Melville run. The special service to the Show-grounds did not begin until December 1: after that date three cars per minute left the City for Milner Park, on holidays and week-ends, while the frequency on the Melville service was more than doubled on weekdays. As a preliminary to better services for natives, the Diagonal Street terminus was improved and given a direct connexion to Nº1 Shed during 1936. After this it was no longer necessary for Native cars to the Western Native Township to run through Market and Harrison Streets for depot trips. Extensive services for natives were introduced on January 31, 1938, over all routes except Yeoville, although they were at first confined to certain periods of the day. The Judith Paarl, Mayfair and Grown Mines services failed to attract sufficient patronage and were discontinued during March, while the Malvern service ceased to operate during April. The other services remained until the end of the tramways but were never a financial success. In the first year of operation, they lost £12,180 and this was only too accurate a forecast of future trends. Competition from well-established bus services was no doubt responsible for this. With the development of these services, however, the much-discussed question of the use of European service trams by non-Europeans was finally solved and henceforth they used these only when travelling with a European employer. The termini for the native services were kept separate from the others and special crossovers had to be constructed for the North Eastern and Eastern Suburbs routes. The former was located in Market Street just east of Eloff Street (all Native


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS cars ran via Troye Street) while the latter was located in Main Street at the Von Wielligh Street intersection. One of the sections of the Spencer Commission's report dealt with the congestion caused by inadequate track layout, and the Diagonal Street-Avenue Road connection was constructed as part of a scheme to ease the flow of cars in the central area. Opened at the same time was a short length of track through Becker Street, eliminating the need for movements to and from Nยบ.2 Shed to conflict with work at Nยบ. 1 Shed. Further intended improvements were the construction of two new Native service terminal sidings, one for the north-eastern/eastern suburbs services and another for the Parktown North/Melville services These were to have been located in side streets away from the main tracks, to eliminate delays caused by Native cars reversing on the main routes, but of the two, only the second was constructed, consisting of a track through Kerk Street from Diagonal to Harrison Streets. The first section, west of Harrison Street was constructed as a double track and the new terminal was opened during 1943. Only the services to Parktown North, Melville, and Westdene for Europeans then remained at the Cenotaph station. All these extensions and part of the doubling scheme were constructed with track salvaged from the southern suburbs routes. For many years road traffic had painfully squeezed itself through the narrow under-bridge at Jeppe on its way to the eastern suburbs, a process that was not always free of accidents-not a few of which were head-on collisions between trams and motor vehicles. During 1937 the South African Railways began work on the electrification of their suburban lines on the Witwatersrand, a project which incorporated considerable re-location of track. Between Johannesburg and Germiston the old line was quadruple track with platforms on the outside "slow" tracks only. The line was riddled by sharp curves and there were numerous level crossings. The new scheme provided for stations 'with four platform faces, eliminated most of the awkward curves and disposed of at the level crossings. At Jeppe the line was to be lowered some twenty-five feet and road traffic would be provided with a number of over-bridges. Lowering the line eliminated the old subway, and while work was in progress all traffic was diverted for five days. As the trams could not be diverted, they ceased running and a bus service was operated for this period. After the new railway track, located further to the north-east than the old one, was opened, trams returned. At first they ran over the partially completed bridges and crossed the old railway on sleeper tracks


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS which were superimposed on the old S.A.R. railway tracks. This primitive method was in force for a considerable period and it was not until March 8, 1939, when the old station buildings and platforms had been demolished and new roads constructed, that the trams returned to permanent tracks. Hand operated points and wire frogs were largely eliminated although a few isolated instancts of both survived. Most of the former had been eliminated when double track was introduced with spring operated points on the crossovers, while many of the latter were disposed of by simply removing overhead on crossovers. Signalling was introduced on the single track sections but did not last for long, except for the pair of signals protecting the interlaced track in Vrededorp which survived until after 1950. The method in use was the standard one by which a driver turned a switch with a key whereupon the signal light showed him whether the next section of track was clear. The main reason for its disappearance was most probably the fact that the single track routes had a fairly light service that did not need much regulating. Some of the other improvements brought about are discussed elsewhere and the only other event of importance was the introduction of the trolleybus during 1936. The service to Sydenham began on August 26 and that to Norwood on September 5. At the time there was no mention of total abandonment of trams, but such was the success of this means of transport that a year afterwards voices went up for the conversion of further routes to trolleybus operation. The two north-western routes were earmarked for this purpose and work was begun during 1939 but came to a standstill at the outbreak of the war. The material was put in store and the plan shelved indefinitely. The war years were a difficult period for the JMT Once again many staff members were away on military duty leaving the burden of work to be shouldered by a badly depleted staff. In an effort to reduce car mileage various revisions to the service were made and as early as June 1940 lunch hour express trams were withdrawn. A new short-working was introduced to the corner of Bedford Road in Yeoville in 1943. The fare from Market Street to the terminus was 3d. Cars on this short-working, which was mainly in operation in peak periods, carried ordinary B1 route markings. Further efforts to reduce car mileage comprised the discontinuance of service to Rosettenville Corner from the race course on


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS Sundays, and of short-workings to Malvern (Monmouth Street). The latter was replaced by a short-working to Naiad Street. As an inevitable result of the war, supplies of stores ran out. The stock of special 27-inch tyres for the all-metal cars became exhausted early in 1942, and it was only by the somewhat brutal method of welding up wheel treads that these trams were kept going. Although never before engaged in heavy machining work, the tramway workshops were soon turning out considerable quantities of home-made spares including such items as gearwheels and small castings. Apart from this, they managed to turn out much war material for military use. Fortunately there was an ample supply of conductor wire, spans, ears and hangers left over from the suspended north western suburbs trolleybus conversion, but the permanent way branch had to make do with second-hand rails and sleepers salvaged from the abandoned southern suburbs routes. Blue gum (eucalyptus) poles were experimented with as a substitute for sleepers but proved unsuitable and track had to survive with a minimum of maintenance. Nevertheless by careful use of left-over material it was possible to open several short sections of new track; the Becker and Diagonal Street loops have already been mentioned and in addition extra tracks were constructed in Diagonal Street and at the Zoo Lake terminus, all being opened for traffic during 1943. Serviceable cars were at a premium, and to help out an old single truck car that had been demoted to track grinder before the war was returned to service as a passenger car in 1943, its place as a track grinder being taken by the illuminated car. By the liberal application of ingenuity and improvisation the rolling stock was kept in service and during 1943 conveyed 74,107,286 passengers, an all time record. When the war ended, both track and rolling stock were in a deplorable state and another major renewals programme was required to return the system to a sound operational basis. Little could be done immediately, however, as materials, especially those obtained from abroad, were still in short supply. The newspapers used the run-down condition of the system as a basis for a sustained campaign again9t the trams. Several accidents provided them with material which was elaborated to the extent that a derailment appeared as a major catastrophe. The 'Rand Daily Mail' in particular became violently anti-tram. The end of the war and of petrol rationing (1946) did not lead to the anticipated drop in traffic; instead


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS the number of passengers continued to increase and a record 12 million was carried in March 1946, with the same number of vehicles as was in operation in 1939. 'About 70 per cent of all passengers were carried by the trams and it says much for the maintenance staff that it was still possible to put NÂş220 of a fleet of 242 into service every day. In contrast, only 83 motor buses out of 93 could be run daily. Revenue also reached a record level but, mainly because of the amount spent on maintenance, a loss of ÂŁ41,000 was made in the year 1944-1945; the bus section was entirely responsible, as the trams had made a profit of ÂŁ31,000. As a remedy, the JMT again began to allow advertisements to be placed on the vehicles. Citizens who were worried that the trams would become mobile hoardings were no doubt reassured by a Council ruling that these would have to be "sober and dignified" examples of "aesthetic art". Meanwhile Johannesburg's traffic problem was also growing, in the manner experienced in Britain a decade later. The 'Rand Daily Mail' became very annoyed with the tram-drivers, who claimed right-of-way when making a right-hand turn; motorists evidently thought twice about challenging a tram. It was also indignant that termini remained in the central area and suggested that these should be removed to the edge of the inner city; much to the relief of the travelling public, no one took this idea seriously. Other newspapers were less specific and merely advocated total abandonment of the trams, along with other palliatives. While pleading for better lane discipline, one article also demanded the removal of all centre poles on the tramways since these complicated life for the motorists. In response to such criticisms, the General Manager of the JMT, in conjunction with the City Traffic Officer, produced in March 1946, a six-phase plan to improve public transport. The first part was the completion of the conversion of the services to the north-western suburbs. In the second phase, a new terminal was to be provided for the services to the eastern suburbs, to remove trams from Commissioner and much of Eloff Streets. These were then to be converted to trolleybuses (phase II) and the lines to the north-eastern area were then to be linked to those in Market Street via a new line in Troye Street. This line, however, was not constructed. During the immediate post-war period, the newspapers, as part of their campaign against the trams, began to make the most of every accident involving a tram.


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS Most of these were quite trivial and few passengers were actually hurt; private motorists, who found the road blocked, probably suffered more in frustration. But on March 5, 1946, an unusual and more serious accident occurred. As car nº.11 was passing Brixton Cemetery during the evening rush hour, the conductor asked a passenger on the top deck for his fare, whereupon the passenger ran down the front staircase, pulled a belt from his pocket, felled the driver with a blow from the iron buckle and jumped off. Momentarily the driver lost consciousness and the tram gathered speed on the down gradient. Where the track turned right into Collins Street, it left the rails and overturned; as it did so, a traffic signpost pierced the lower deck, killing one passenger, shearing the arm off another and seriously injuring two others. In all about forty people were treated in hospital, mainly for cuts and shock. Despite the ample nature of the accident, road traffic was resumed twenty minutes later. Car nº.11 was beyond economic repair and was broken up where it lay. The passenger who had started it all was not traced. A JMT Official later said that a lawless minority was making life very difficult for the crews of the Native cars; conductors had had their money bags tipped up, and some had been assaulted. In 1945, services were operating at the following frequencies in the peak and off-peak hours: A1, 5 minutes and 7 ½ minutes; B1, 4 and 8 minutes; B2 as B1; C1, 5 and 8 minutes; D1, 10 minutes at all times; O1, 4 and 10 minutes; F1, 6 and 8 minutes; G1, 5 and 7 ½ minutes; H1, 20 and 24 minutes; I1, 2 ½ and 5 minutes; I2, 15 and 30 minutes; J1, 3 and 10 minutes; K1, 7 ½ and 10 minutes, and L1, 7 ½ and 15 minutes. Short-workings to intermediate destinations gave more frequent headways in the inner area during peak periods; thus on the Kensington route, there was a car to Good Hope Street every 2 ½ minutes and even the southern suburbs route saw a car every 5 minutes at least as far as Booysens. Lunch-hour express workings were operated on services B1, B2, C1, F1 and L1. During the evening peak, a minimum fare of 3d was charged on certain workings on services on B1 and B2 and of 4d on services F1, G1, K1 and L1. On the service to Western Native Township frequencies were 18 and 4 minutes, but extra trams ran all day to Martindale, giving a 6 minute off-peak and a 2 minute peak-hour headway to that point. Unlike other services, there were more trams on Sunday than on any other day. Native services, generally on a very wide headway, and with a gap in the middle of the day, were also operated to Parktown North, Kensington, Turffontein and Observatory, with a solitary working


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS to Bezuidenhout Valley on Sunday afternoons. The Zoo enjoyed quite a frequent native service on Thursdays and Sundays. Ellis Park on the Judith Paarl route is one of Johannesburg's important sporting grounds and on the occasions when important rugby football or tennis matches are held thousands of people are conveyed thence by special services operated by both JMT and South African Railways. Extensive restoration to tramway tracks in this area was carried out during 1948, and provision was then made to cater for the numerous special workings operated on sport days. The work included the replacement of the single track Siemert Road/Beit Street junction by a double track junction with a separate crossover for Marlborough House short workings, the laying of an eastbound and westbound crossover set in Erin Street, and the complete replacement of the Erin Street track-with rails from the Southern Suburbs. During 1948 the long-delayed north western suburbs conversion scheme was completed, the last tram to Melville running on June 19 and the last Parktown tram on October 17. Shortly before its abandonment the Parktown route was the scene of an accident in which car Nยบ32 overturned and spread itself all over the road and a passing motor car, fortunately without fatalities. The tram sustained such serious damage that it was withdrawn. The closure of the two north western routes made it possible to withdraw a number of the over-age single truck cars, while some track was released for urgently required repairs elsewhere-although most of the rail was fit only for scrap. Both routes had a considerable mileage of reserved track and the reservations were included in road improvement schemes, although in the case of the Jan Smuts Avenue track this improvement was not carried out until the early 1960s. In most tramway towns, reserved track routes are a point in favour of the operator; trams are separated from other traffic and can therefore move faster and without endangering road users. Not so in Johannesburg; motor car drivers have always considered the tramway reservation an encroachment on their territory and a waste of valuable space. Abandonment of a route with roadside track was usually followed by a clamour for a wider road, and it is only on the more recent abandonments where traces of the route can still be found.



1949 will always be remembered as a year of unrest, unrest which resulted in the abandonment of yet another tram route. On September 1 the fares from the City to Western Native Township were increased from 2d. to 3d., to the great dislike of the .inhabitants of the area, who boycotted the service to show their disapproval. In a period of general unsettlement and difficult circumstances this fare increase was the straw that broke the camel's back and was deeply resented, more on principle than for any other reason. The JMT kept its cars to Western Native running, albeit with few passengers, and tension rose. Eventually things boiled over and serious rioting broke out in the area and trams were stoned. Of the seven vehicles involved six sustained considerable damage and several passengers and crew members sustained injuries from stones or broken glass. As a safety precaution the service was temporarily suspended on November 13, and was not reinstated. The Diagonal and Kerk Street tracks, together with the Market sidings were lifted soon afterwards, usable rails being utilised for replacements elsewhere, while the surplus Native cars were stored in Nยบ2 Depot. Various lengths of rail recovered from the Western Native abandonment was used the following year for the construction of the Newlands extension from Shortmarket Street to the City Boundary, a single track laid on the southern verge of the road. The overhead equipment for the extension came from the Melville and Parktown routes. It was opened on January 15, 1950. This was the last extension in Johannesburg and indeed in South Africa; with the closure of the Durban system in 1948, Johannesburg was left as the sole operator in the country. In 1950 there was a spectacular and unfortunately fatal accident when a car ran away and collided with two Lorries, a delivery van and a private car, killing two people and, injuring seven before it came to rest. The following year eighty-one passengers were injured when a Native car overturned in Berea. The following four years were a period of recovery. Equipment was gradually returned to order while Johannesburg together with the rest of South Africa entered on a period of industrial expansion. This brought about a higher standard of living and a steadily increasing number of private motor cars, and the JMT's main experience from 1950 onward has been one of steadily falling traffic figures and receipts. The only event of note was a minor wage and working conditions dispute during the latter part of 1951, which was given considerable coverage by


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS the papers. After an unsuccessful attempt to introduce a go-slow, tram and bus crews took to working strictly to regulations, a maddening procedure involving such a literal interpretation of rules and regulations that traffic gradually came to a stand still. The main sufferers were the travelling public, who had to put up with vehicles running late or passing their stop with the "Full" sign up, a previously rare occurrence. Although there is a legal limit to the number of passengers allowed on a vehicle, this was and is seldom adhered to and usually a bus or tram was not considered full until it was well and truly overloaded. This was all very well for the Transport Department's finance but rather unfortunate for passengers, as it usually transpired that those who were to alight first were packed right in front, while those travelling to the terminus stood on the balcony. Introduction of front exits on buses and trolleybuses helped to alleviate this difficulty, but there were no such refinements on trams and one had to start fighting one's way to the exit several stops before alighting. The whole attempt at working to rule was of mild proportions and lasted for only a few days after which the dispute (on hours of duty) was settled by peaceful means, one result being that services had to be reduced to lighten the work of the staff. From May 30, 1951, Judith Paarl was once again provided with a Native service, and again it proved to be un-remunerative; during September 1951 it was withdrawn. Relaying work in Eloff Street during September and October 1952 brought an end to the possibility of through operation from eastern to north-eastern suburbs, when the north-south connecting tracks in the Market Street Junction were removed. While the work was in progress all inward cars ran via Rissik Street. From 1955 onward the final end of the tram was in sight. The newspapers began another anti-tram campaign, publishing many photographs which purported to show the trams as the main cause of congestion. Possibly because of this, the JMT appeared gradually to lose interest in its tramway operations; the standard of service and equipment slowly but surely deteriorated and as other means of transport became available the tram went. Until 1955 vehicles had been kept in good repair but one year later one could already see the writing on the wall. The last service improvement made was the introduction by popular request of a through service between Mayfair and Yeoville/Observatory. Like other things urgently requested by Johannians, it was poorly supported and, as severe delays


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS were also experienced in the central area, it was soon discontinued; the service operated only from October 30 to December 10, 1955. Also during 1955 came the purchase of Northern Bus Services Ltd., the last private operator to run buses for whites in the municipal area. There appears to have been no political debate whatever about the decision to discontinue tramway operation, but heavy losses may have influenced the Department. On January 15, 1957, car Nº47, one of the Native cars transferred from European service overturned in Booysens Road. After an investigation into the condition of the remaining single truck cars and track it was decided to take all the four-wheelers out of regular service, and afterwards they only appeared during the morning and evening peaks. On the Booysens-Rosettenville Corner service they were banned altogether. Track here was so poor that all tram-service over it should have been ended immediately but due to the non-arrival of replacing buses it was somehow kept going until September 1. At the time of abandonment the track was in such a poor state that in places on the reserved sections daylight was visible through the rail-webs. In October 1957, Nº.220's desire for adventure got the better of it again. Left unattended, it moved off down Market Street and claimed its first victim, a carload of detectives, at the Sauer Street intersection. After that it smashed anything in its path; six private cars were claimed as direct hits, while several others were hit by ricochets After nearly a mile of this, Nº220 approached the bottom of Fordsburg Dip, according to eye witnesses cruising at some twenty-five miles per hour, and bore down on car Nº149 which had been stopped at a traffic light. Fortunately for the occupants of this car, Nº220 was slowed down by an impact with a lorry loaded with sand, which was struck with such force that it was flung across the road, and through the parapet of a bridge, ending up in the bed of the ,stream some twenty yards away from the point of collision. The end of the run came immediately afterwards when Nº220 struck the rear end of Nº149 with such force that the latter car was forced more than halfway across the intersection and derailed. Nº220, however, remained on the rails, its headlight still on. Fifteen people were detained in hospital, of whom eleven were soon discharged. Of the remaining four one later died from his injuries. Both trams were extensively damaged and withdrawn from service. When everything had been sorted out the JMT had to face claims for damages amounting to over


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS ÂŁ42,000. With this expensive climax, ends the record of tramway accidents in Johannesburg. Repainting of trams also ceased during 1957. The only paint work still executed was the touching up of accident damage, in various shades of red or cream. With the almost simultaneous appearance of dash advertisements, trams took on a somewhat gaudy appearance, with sometimes three shades of red, and lavishly applied multi-colour advertisements on both ends. The advent of the advertisements however solved part of the painting problem. Native services on the Newlands route were re-organised and cars fitted with special destination blinds introduced. These cars were all air bogies, and the all-metal cars completely disappeared from this service. As the latter cars were begin11lingto show signs of corrosion 'they disappeared one by one and during 1961 not a single one was in service. On March 30, 1958, the Mayfair and Crown Mines routes were abandoned, the former becoming a trolleybus route, while a single bus took over the latter. The track between Market Square and Becker Street had of necessity to remain in use for depot workings. The services to the north eastern suburbs ceased to run on January 31, 1960. At first buses replaced them as the intended trolleybus network had not been completely wired. After some months the trolleybus finally took over on the Twist Street, Yeoville and Observatory routes, while Bertrams, Judith Paarl, and Siemert Road remained bus services. After this abandonment the entire remaining service was worked by 58 air bogies, a solitary native car, and some twenty all-metal cars. After the closure of the Newlands route, on February 2, 1961, the total number of cars in service dwindled to about twenty, with a number of extras for the peak periods. By January 1961 only the three eastern suburbs services remained and on March 18 these too closed. Originally they had been scheduled for replacement together with the Newlands route but were given a short reprieve through the late arrival of new buses.


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS When the end came on March 18, 1961, it came quietly. All morning, while regular trams were still running maintenance gangs feverishly worked on the replacement of "Tram Stop" with "Bus Stop" signs and around lunch time the first buses appeared. By the time the Saturday lunch hour peak was past the tram had made its last revenue run. The last departure from Loveday Street was car 159, which left for Malvern (Frere Street) just after 13.00 hrs. When the last cars returned to the City they did not return to the depot but remained in Market Street. Around 14:00 they were joined by the remaining serviceable air bogie cars and by 15:00 some thirty-five cars were lined up for the ceremonial last run. Such was the interest for this event that it was necessary to commandeer several not-so-serviceable cars and re-open bookings for the special last run tickets. Although no-one thought of keeping a record of the cars taking part in this final run there must have been forty to forty-five cars running, a number that must have imposed severe strain on the sub-stations. Although cars ran over all three routes (passengers could select the route over which they wished to make their last journey) the main cavalcade proceeded to Malvern, headed by the preserved horse-car (which for reasons of speed only travelled as far as Van der Bijl Square) and Nº20, respendent in a new coat of red paint, its black lining embellished by the addition of some gold trimming, and suitably decorated with bunting. Over its headlight it carried a wreath. The car was occupied by transport and municipal officials including the Mayor and later this company was strengthened by the addition of passengers in period costume transferred from the horse car. The driver was W. J. Botha and the conductor F. J. Webb. Nº20's route indicator showed Malvern "Old Terminus" (Monmouth Street) but the entire procession went to the end of the line at the beginning of Stanhope Road. There, after some short speeches and a short pause for photography, resulted the most feverish activity Malvern Terminus ever saw, car after car reversing (through a crowd of several thousand people) over the single track section before commencing its town-ward journey. Then the souvenir hunters appeared and many cars were stripped of all their removable components before reaching the depot; souvenir hunting soon turned into sheer vandalism and it was necessary ·to run Nº20 through the City at its maximum speed to escape its being reduced to a skeleton. The most disappointing feature of the day came afterwards. When all cars had returned to Nº.1 Depot, a crowd rushed in and


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS inflicted considerable damage by breaking windows, tearing out destination blinds and throwing out seat cushions. Power was finally shut off at 17:30 hrs. Those cars which remained in Nยบ1 Depot were towed by lorry to Nยบ2 for scrapping. With the exception of the five which were to be preserved by various people, the remaining cars were sold to Messrs. Regent Metals of Benoni at R160.00 (ยฃ80) each. Although it was hoped that the older cars could be sold complete for use as bungalows, etc., and that the all-metal cars could be sold for further service, the response to the advertisements placed in several publications was poor and most were broken up, only a few surviving complete. Track was soon covered by strips of tarmac. The rails on the north-eastern routes had been sold for scrap at R14.00 per ton, but track-lifting did not begin until early in 1962. The overhead wire was also sold for scrap and was cut down between the span wires soon after abandonment; the span wires and hangers remained in position until March 1962. The last track to be lifted, in 1963, was that in the eastern suburbs. Now the only tangible remainders of a once-great tramway system are the poles and bracket arms which still stand in certain places.

PASSENGER LOAD NOT MORE THAN PASSASIER VRAG NIE MEER AS V NGA LA YISHI ABANTU ABANGA PEZU KWE U SE KE VA ROALA BATHO BA FETANG 120 With quadri-lingual notices, there was no excuse for overloading! The languages are English, Afrikaans, Zulu and Sesuto.



This chapter will describe the electric tramcars which operated in Johannesburg from 1906 to 1961. Details of the horse cars have been given in Chapter One. These vehicles were sold, broken up or used as passenger shelters after electrification, with the exception of one that became a tower-wagon and five single-deck enclosed horse cars which were retained and used as trailers in native service until 1916. One of them, Nº8, was then kept as a relic and was remounted in 1936 on road wheels for use in the City's 50th anniversary street parade; it is now on display in the James Hall Museum of Transport at Pioneer Park. Nº1-20

• • • • • •

Built in England, June and July 1905. Shipped from Liverpool to Durban partly dismantled and assembled in Johannesburg 1905/6. Bodies built by the Electric Railway & Tramway Carriage Works Ltd. Preston (works title changed during the contract to United Electric Car Company Ltd.). Dimensions: Overall length 26ft 6in, width 7ft 3in, height 16ft 5in. Seating 24 inside, 34 outside, total 58. Official standing capacity 18. Direct half-turn stairs. Electrical equipment supplied by Dick Kerr & Co. Ltd. Two DK 3A4 35 hp motors, two DB1 Form B controllers. Truck: Brill 2IE 6ft 6in wheelbase with 4tin. Axles and Hadfield's steel tyred 33 inch diameter wheels. Braking: Peacock hand brakes, rheostatic and magnetic track brakes. Hudson & Bowring lifeguards.

The first tender for rolling stock called for the supply of one hundred double-deck, single-truck cars. The first forty cars were to consist of twenty top-covered, open-balcony cars, referred to in the specifications as Type A, and twenty open-top cars, Type B. These letter classifications were not used in Johannesburg. Based· on the experience gained with these cars, the builder was to supply the remainder as one or other type. The contract was awarded in 1905 to the Electric Railway & Tramway Carriage Works Ltd., the balcony cars to cost £594 each and the open top cars £575 each. Shipping costs brought these figures to £943 and £965 respectively.


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS Cars 1-20 were the open balcony cars. The platforms were unvestibuled, and the upper decks were open at the sides. Some protection was afforded to passengers by red and white striped canvas blinds on sprung rollers, which clipped into press studs on the upper deck waist panel. The lower deck had three windows, the upper deck six unglazed window spaces. Transverse seating was provided on both decks, rattan on the lower deck and Glasgow type teak slats on the upper deck. The lifeguard trays were trigger operated, and the cars had folding steps. Each car was fitted with two 35 hp motors, giving a maximum speed of 25 miles/h. which was, and rema1ined, the legal maximum for tramcars in Johannesburg. Although magnetic track brakes and rheostatic brakes were fitted for emergency use, normal service braking was by hand, and to operate this more quickly, Peacock's multiplying gear was fitted; with this gear, a lever on the brake column took in the slack on the chain before the driver turned the handle. These twenty cars remained structurally unaltered until the early 1920s, by which time they were suffering from the effects of crush loading, with balconies and platforms sagging under the weight of many more standing passengers than were usual in Britain. The JMT workshops were expanded to cater for the complete rebuilding of the cars (and the building of new ones) and from 1923 to 1932 all cars of this batch were rebuilt. Some received completely new bodies, with five side windows on the lower deck and matching sliding windows upstairs, replacing the blinds. All received wooden instead of rattan seats to the lower deck, increasing the seating capacity to 62, but in later years certain cars received upholstered leather seats, reducing the capacity from 62 to 58. Some received new Metrovick MV 104 35 hp motors, and car 15 became a single-decker, described later. It was unfortunate that no attempt was made at this time to speed up the cars, nor to fit air brakes, since the need to mix them in service with more modern cars later kept down average speeds to an unacceptably low figure. Car 9 was rebuilt in 1923, car 2 in 1924, cars 1,3,5, 10, 11, 12, 14, 16 and 17 in 1925, car 13 in 1926, car 6 in 1927 and the remainder in 1931, except car 4 in 1932. The introduction of the last departmentally-built bogie cars in 1933 made it possible to withdraw ten single-truck cars in July of that year, including cars 2 and 9. In 1946, cars 1, 3, 8, 11 and 13 were transferred to native services, retaining their numbers. The war and the subsequent rolling-stock shortage gave the


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS remaining cars a long reprieve and it was not until the closure of the north-western routes in 1949 that further withdrawals could be made. Car 6 was scrapped after an accident in 1951, followed by car 5 in 1952, 12 and 14 in 1953, 1, 7, 10 and 16 in 1956-7,4, 17, 18 and 19 :in 1958 and 3, 8, 11 and 13 in 1959. This left only one survivor, car 20, which was still in existence at the time of the final closure in 1961, hut had not been in regular service for some time. Nº20 made a final appearance on the last day of operation when, freshly repainted and decorated with bunting, it led a ceremonial procession of cars to Malvern terminus. At that time it was earmarked for Crich, but was exchanged with car 60 and is now preserved in the James Hall Museum. Nº21-40

• •

Built in England in June, 1905. Shipped from Liverpool to Durban partly dismantled, assembled in Johannesburg in autumn 1905. Builder and details as for cars 1-20, but with open top decks and seating for 56.

These were the open top cars shown in the contract specification as Type B, and had five windows to the lower saloon instead of three. Johannesburg's unpredictable weather soon showed the disadvantage of open-top cars, and the remainder of the initial order (cars 41-100) was completed as Type A. The contract had specified that the open top cars were to be capable of conversion to top covered cars, and in 1907 one was so treated at a cost of £60. Ten further cars were converted in 1911 at a cost of £172 each, and the remainder in 1912 at a cost of £174 10s each. The subsequent history of these 20 cars is generally similar to that of cars 1-20. Nº27 and 36 were converted in 1924 to single-deckers (Described later) and the remainder were reconstructed from 1923 onwards in the JMT workshops, cars 21, 22, 25, 29 and 31 being dealt with in 1923, cars 24, 28, 30 and 37 in 1924 and the remainder in 1925, except for car 40 in 1929 and cars 26 and 34 in 1931. Two cars, 21 and 28, were withdrawn for scrap between 1933 and 1936 and on the introduction of modern bogie cars in 1936 thirteen cars were transferred to native service and renumbered variously between N11 and N30, as listed later. In 1950, the survivors of this group were renumbered a second time, in the 238-253 series. From 1938 the only cars of the 21-40 batch to remain in European service


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS were 26, 34 and 39, which were withdrawn respectively in 1958, 1951 and 1953, car 34 having been involved in an accident. Nº41-80

• • •

Built in England early in 1906, assembled in Johannesburg summer 1906. Bodies built by the United Electric Car Company Ltd., Preston. Dimensions and other details as for cars 1-20, but longitudinal seating in lower saloon.

This was the main batch of four-wheel open-balcony top-covered cars, similar in all respects to cars 1-20 but delivered about a year later, after experience had shown that open-top cars were unsuitable Nº51 came to an untimely end when it overturned at Yeoville in December 1906, and reappeared as a tower wagon in 1910. Nº66 was also involved in an accident, and when rebuilt was given the number 51; a new car 66 of the same design was built by JMT in 1918. Nº55, 64 and 78 were rebuilt early in 1925 as single-deckers, as described later. The rest of the batch were rebuilt or re-bodied in the JMT workshops between 1923 and 1932 in similar fashion to cars 1-20, except that most of the 1923/4 rebuilds retained their three-window lower saloons. Cars 53, 63 and 69 were dealt with in 1923, cars 45, 46, 65, 71, 75 and 76 in 1924, cars 42, 43, 44, 48, 58, 62, 73, 74 and 80 in 1925, cars 47 and 66 in 1926 and the remainder in 1932, except cars 52, 60 and 70 in 1931. The rebuilt cars had sliding windows upstairs and heavier top decks than previously, and with the short wheelbase of only 6ft 6in this probably gave rise to a pitching motion; in a search for improved riding, JMT accepted in 1924 on free trial a set of E.M.B. Pivotal trucks. No details have survived of the experiment, but since no order followed, the Department could not have been impressed. Perhaps it was just as well; the E.M.B. Pivotal truck was a praiseworthy attempt to give a four-wheeler the riding qualities of a bogie car without the extra weight and expense, but in practice it proved very difficult to maintain and in Leeds, ended up as a rigid truck of 10 ft wheelbase, hard on both the track and the anatomy of the unfortunate passengers. To speed up the car rebuilding programme JMT bought from English Electric 40 more controllers of the original DB1 pattern; these were no longer in production, and it is believed that English Electric repurchased the controllers from Bolton Corporation (who were re-equipping their cars with the K3 type), reconditioned the units and fitted


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS new top plates with the English Electric title. A pair of these controllers survives on preserved car 60. Apart from car 51, the first cars of this batch to be withdrawn were Nº46, 53, 63 and 71, which had gone by 1936. Three of the cars were transferred to native service in 1946: 45, 47 and 61. Car 73 was withdrawn after an accident in 1952, and car 75 was withdrawn at an unknown date prior to 1953. The remainder were kept in service until the post-war route closures; cars 42, 43, 44, 48, 54, 57, 65, 68, 76 and 77 were withdrawn between 1953 and 1957 and cars 41, 49, 50, 51, 52, 56, 58, 59, 62, 69, 70, 72, 79 and 80 in 1958, leaving only Nº60, 66, 67 and 74. Some were sold as scrap, but a considerable number was given away to anyone who was prepared to collect them. Nº66, 67 and 74 had gone by 1960, leaving Nº60 as the sole survivor at the time of closure in 1961; this car was earmarked for local preservation as the result of pressure by the Railway Society of Southern Afl1ica. In 1964, the Tramway Museum Society agreed to accept Nº60 for Crich in place of Nº20, and the car was repainted by JMT and shipped to Hull later that year, arriving at Crich on December 18, 1964. Since its arrival it has been used, with suitable temporary disguise, as a Notts. & Derby car in television and film versions of the D. H. Lawrence stories, and, more recently, as a Manchester car for the filming of Howard Spring's "A Shabby Tiger". Nº81-100 • Built in England in 1907. • Bodies built by the United Electric Car Company Ltd., Preston. • Dimensions and other details as for cars 41-80 except that 81-100 had five lower saloon windows similar to those of 21-40. Completion of the last twenty cars of the 1905 order for 100 was delayed, perhaps while JMT considered whether to buy bogie cars instead. In the event, the bogie cars were an additional purchase and the twenty postponed single-truck cars were completed to the original specification. They entered service in Johannesburg during 1907. Cars 89 and 100 were converted to single-deckers late in 1924, followed by car 87 in January 1925. The remainder were rebuilt in the JMT workshops in the same way as cars 1-20, Nº88,90,91, 92, 93, 95, 97 and 99 being dealt with in 1923; Nº94 and 96 in 1924; Nº81,82,84,86 in 1925; Nº83 in 1931; and Nº85 and 98 in 1932.


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS First to be withdrawn were cars 90, 93, 95 and 97, which had gone by 1936. Cars 81, 82, 88, 96 and 99 became Native cars in 1937-38, renumbered in the N200 series, leaving seven in European service. Car 94 was rebuilt in 1952 as rail grinder T2. None of this batch of cars survived to the closure; car 86 had gone by 1953, followed that year by 84 and 91; Nº83 had gone by 1957, and the last survivors, cars 85 and 92, were withdrawn in 1958. Nº15-27-36-55-64-78-87-89 and 100. • Built in the JMT workshops in 1924-25 by converting the open-balcony cars of the same numbers to single deck form. • Seating 32 in lower saloon. These nine cars were rebuilt as single-deckers between September 1924 and February 1925. The seating capacity of the lower deck was increased to 32 by moving the end partitions outward and angling them, at the expense of the platform space. The trolley was mounted on a short tower on the roof. It is not clear why these conversions were made, as there are no low bridges and no mention was made of any plans for one-man operation. Apart from Wolhuter and Crown Mines, there were no suitable light-traffic services for these cars, and it has been suggested that they were the brainchild of a particular city councillor. At all events, they were withdrawn in the late 1920s and stored until 1935, when they were sold for scrap and fetched an average price of £5 8s. Only Nº15 survived, and was fitted out as an illuminated car, for use on occasions such as the Coster Market in Joubert Park. During the Second World War it was temporarily converted to a rail-grinder, and was finally scrapped in 1959. Nº100-110.

• • • • • • •

Built in England in late 1906 and early 1907. Entered service in Johannesburg in 1907. Bodies built by the United Electric Car Company Ltd., Preston. Dimensions: overall length 34ft 8in, width 7ft 8in, height 16ft 5in Seating 32 inside, 44 outside, total 76. Official standing capacity 20. Robinson "broken" stairs. Electrical equipment supplied by Dick Kerr & Co. Ltd. Two DK 3A 35 hp motors, two DB1 controllers.



Trucks: Brill 22E maximum traction with Hadfield's steel-tyred 33-inch driving wheels and 23-inch pony wheels. Breaking: Peacock hand brakes, rheostatic brakes and Dick Kerr magnetic track brakes. Hudson & Bowring lifeguards.

By the summer of 1906, the JMT was experiencing a need for larger cars, particularly for race meeting and lunch time peak hour traffic. Time evidently would not permit the preparation of a new design, and Dick Kerr & Co. offered a large bogie design which they were building for the London United Tramways (cars 301-340, class T). This was accepted and ten similar cars were shipped to Johannesburg in the first part of 1907, at a cost of £1,369 each including delivery. Structurally, cars 101-110 were similar to the top-covered single truck cars, but they were fitted with "broken" staircases with half-landings, as on the London United cars. This type of stairway proved popular in Johannesburg and was repeated on later bogie cars. Striped blinds were fitted to the unglazed upper deck window spaces, and the platforms could be closed with folding lattice gates. The Brill 22E maximum traction trucks were known as "pony-wheel bogies" in Johannesburg. It is said that one car was tried with the trucks reversed, so that the driving wheels were towards the car centre, but if so, the car was soon returned to normal. The 35 hp motors were found to be inadequate, and were replaced at a later date by 50 hp Siemens or Westinghouse motors. Although strengthened in later years, these cars were never re-bodied, nor were they altered structurally; most of them retained unglazed upper decks to the end. On some cars, however, the lower deck seating was altered from longitudinal to transverse. During 1945, all ten cars were transferred to native service and were eventually repainted silver, but they retained their original numbers until they were scrapped. Their later history is given in that section. Nº111-120 • Built in England late in 1912 and placed in service in Johannesburg in 1913, Bodies built by the Brush Electrical Engineering Company Ltd., Loughborough. • Dimensions: overall length 37ft 6in, width 7ft 4in, height 16ft 8in • Seating 32 inside, 50 outside, total 82. Official standing capacity 20.



Electrical equipment believed to be by Westinghouse, with two Westinghouse 50 hp motors (one per truck). Trucks: Brush equal wheel. Braking: Peacock hand brakes, rheostatic brakes, and magnetic track brakes.

These ten cars were part of a joint order with Pietermaritzburg Corporation, who received two similar cars in the same year, 1913. They were very heavy cars, hopelessly underpowered for Johannesburg's steeper gradients. The cars were elaborately lined out, and the ceiling of the lower deck was decorated with scrollwork in green and gold on an ivory base. Both upper and lower decks had transverse leather-upholstered seating. Extractor ventilators were fitted in the cant-rail. Originally these cars had enclosed end balconies on the upper deck, although the sides had only the normal canvas blinds. Later they were converted to open balcony design, probably in the 1920s, and received sliding side windows to the upper deck. During 1941, all ten cars were transferred to native service and renumbered N31 to N40, in sequence. Their subsequent career is described later, in the appropriate section. Nº121-135 • Built in England in autumn 1914 and placed in service in Johannesburg in 1915. • Bodies built by the Brush Electrical Engineering Company Ltd., Loughborough. • Dimensions and seating as for cars 1-100. • Electrical equipment supplied by Dick Kerr & Co. Ltd. Two DK 11 50 hp motors, two K4 controllers. • Truck: Preston standard 4-wheel (similar to 21E) built by United Electric Car Co. Ltd. • Braking: hand, rheostatic, and Dick Kerr magnetic track brakes. 1915 saw the introduction of a further batch of single truck cars, Nº121-135, which were similar to the original cars but slightly heavier and fitted with 50 hp instead of 35 hp motors. They were also somewhat more expensive, costing £1,214 each. Nº129 was withdrawn after colliding with a train on the level


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS crossing on Eloff Street Extension in 1930, but was stored and was eventually returned to service as Native car N12. Its place in the 121-125 series was taken by the former car 136 renumbered. In 1931 and 1932 all these cars received the same rebuilding as the older four-wheelers, except for car 126 (rebuilt in 1935) and 122, 129 (II) and 133 which were withdrawn un-rebuilt at some date prior to 1936. Nº130 had gone by 1953, Nº121, 127, 128, 131 and 134 were withdrawn by 1958, and the remainder had gone by 1960. Nº136

• • • •

Rebuilt by JMT in 1918 from one of three freight cars supplied by Dick, Kerr & Co. Ltd. in 1906. Body built by JMT workshops. Dimensions similar to cars 121-135. Electrical equipment supplied in 1906 by Dick, Kerr & Co. Ltd. Two DK 3A 35 hp motors, two DB1 controllers. Truck: Brill 21E 6ft 6in wheelbase.

The rolling stock shortage had become acute during the First World War, and in 1918 the JMT made a start on enlarging the fleet by rebuilding one of the freight cars as a passenger vehicle. It was generally similar to the previous single-truck cars, but had enclosed balconies. Originally numbered 136, it was renumbered 129 in 1930, after the original 129 was withdrawn. It was finally withdrawn between 1933 and 1936. No other four-wheel car received enclosed balconies, and this rebuild remained unique. Nº140-153 • Built by JMT in 1919 (140-3) and 1920 (144-153). Bodies built by JMT workshops on Brush Co. Under-frames. • Dimensions: overall length 34ft 5in, width 7ft 6in, height 16ft 5in • Seating 32 inside, 48 outside, total 80. Official standing capacity 18. • Electrical equipment supplied by Westinghouse (U.S.A.) four Westinghouse 35 hp motors, Westinghouse K35 controllers. • Trucks: Brill 76E equal wheel. • Braking: hand and Westinghouse air brake; emergency brake on reverse controller key. In readiness for the start of large-scale car construction, an order was placed in September 1918, with the Brush Electrical Engineering Company Ltd. for fourteen


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS under-frames complete with bogies, motors, control and brake equipment. Brush evidently sub-contracted the equipments to Westinghouse (U.S.A.), perhaps because the British manufacturers had so great a backlog of work that they could not promise early delivery. The first under-frames arrived from Loughborough in 1919, and this marked the start of a programme under which, in the next thirteen years, the workshops were to construct sixty-five bogie car bodies on imported under-frames, while simultaneously rebuilding the four-wheel cars and re-bodying the freight and sprinkler cars as passenger vehicles for the native services. Unfortunately, few details seem to have survived of the re-organisation, expansion and re-equipment of the workshops which this car-building programme entailed. The new bogie cars were given bodies very similar to those of the maximum traction cars, even to the London United type of "broken" stairs, but had transverse seats inside. They had open-sided upper decks, fitted with canvas blinds as a protection against the weather. Experience having shown that the previous two-motor bogie cars were under-powered; the new cars had all four axles driven, with Westinghouse 35 hp motors. The air brakes, the first to be used in Johannesburg, were also of Westinghouse (U.S.A.) manufacture, and these and the similar cars built later were known collectively as the Air Bogies. The cost of these cars worked out at £4,311 each. After some years in traffic, Nº140-153 were given sliding windows to the upper deck (in 1929-1933) and the balconies were enclosed. Drivers' windscreens were fitted between 1945 and 1947, but an opening was left on the offside below the stair landing. The first to be withdrawn was Nº149, after a 1957 accident; two more, 142 and 151, were withdrawn by 1960, but the rest lasted until the closure of the system in March, 1961, and were then sold to Regent Metals. Nº149 was bought by an ex-London Transport tram driver and now stands, repainted in L.T. colours and with London indicators, on the Veldt about 18 miles from Johannesburg. Nº154-169 • • • •

Built by JMT in 1920 and 1921. Bodies built by JMT workshops on Brush Company under-frames. Dimensions and seating as for cars 140-153. Electrical equipment by General Electric (U.S.A.).



Four GE 35 hp motors, K35 controllers, GE air brakes. Trucks: Brill 76E equal wheel.

During 1919, a further twenty-four under-frames were ordered, of which the first sixteen received bodies identical with those of the first batch (140-153) at a total cost per car of £4,805. Sliding upper windows and enclosed balconies were fitted at a later date, and drivers' windscreens were added in 1945-57. The class remained intact until 1958: Nº158, 163 and 165 had gone by 1960, and the others were sold for scrap after closure in 1961. Nº170-192 • Built by JMT in 1921/2 (170-3) and 1923/4 (174-192). • Bodies built by JMT on Brush Company under-frames. • Dimensions, seating and equipment as for cars 154-169. From 170 onwards, the new bogie cars were built with full-depth sliding windows and a rail fitted along the outside. Despite this, the cost worked out at £4,305 10s per car, lower than the preceding class. This marked the first appearance of this window arrangement in Johannesburg, which later became standard, the older cars being rebuilt to match. A new livery of blue and grey was adopted, and these cars were dubbed "Bluebirds" by the public. The first eight were built on under-frames ordered in 1919, and a further order for 15 under-frames was placed in June, 1923. After the completion of cars 181-192 in 1924, construction of bogie cars ceased for some years and the works staff turned their attention to re-bodying the four-wheelers. Nº170-192 remained unaltered until 1945-47 and were then given drivers' windscreens and enclosed balconies. The class remained intact until 1958: 170, 176, 177 and 183 were withdrawn between then and 1960, but the other 19 were the mainstay of the service until closure in March 1961. They were then bought (with all other cars) by Regent Metals, who converted one to a bungalow and exhibited it at the Rand Show at Easter 1961. No sales resulted, but the bodies of other cars were sold and are now scattered all over the Transvaal, serving as bungalows, henhouses and tool sheds. Nº136-139 and Nº193-200. • Built by JMT in 1930 (136-9,193-4) and 1931 (195-200).



Bodies built by JMT workshops on Brush Company under-frames. Dimensions and seating as for cars 170-192. Electrical equipment supplied by Metropolitan-Vickers. Four MV 102 50hp motors, MV T4B controllers. Trucks: Brush equal wheel bogies. Braking: hand, rheostatic and Brush air brakes. Emergency brake on reverse controller key.

A final batch of 12 under-frames was ordered from Brush in October 1928, this time with Brush equal-wheel trucks of a type supplied about two years earlier to Cape Town and Durban. Six were placed in service in 1930, the remainder in 1931. These cars were built with enclosed balconies, and like 140-192 were given drivers' windscreens between 1945 and 1947. They were certainly the last cars anywhere in the world to be built with the Robinson "broken" stairway adopted by the London United Tramways in 1900. Nº136 took the number of the JMT-built four-wheel car of 1918 (renumbered 129 in 1930) and Nº137-9 occupied vacant numbers which may have been intended earlier for the passenger conversions of the other three sprinklers, but were not used. Car 139 was withdrawn in 1950 after an accident, and cars 136, 194, 195 and 199 were withdrawn between 1958 and the end of 1960. The other seven remained to the end of the system in March 1961, and were then sold for scrap, except for car 200 which is preserved in the James Hall Museum of Transport. With these cars and concurrent rebuilding of works cars for native service, car building by the JMT workshops ceased and henceforth new cars were again imported complete from overseas builders. Nº9

• • • • •

Built in 1934 by Metropolitan Cammell Carriage & Wagon Company Ltd., Birmingham, England. Dimensions: overall length 29ft 9in, width 7ft 2 ¼in, height 15ft 2 ¼in Seating: 18 inside, 30 upstairs, totals 48. Official standing capacity 30. Electrical equipment supplied by Metropolitan- Vickers. Two MV 50 hp motors, Metrovick regenerative remote contactor control. Truck: EMB hornless 4-wheel, 8ft 6in wheelbase.



Braking: hand, Metrovick air and magnetic track brakes and regenerative brakes.

As the single-truck cars would soon become due for replacement, it was decided in 1933 to order five experimental cars, with a larger order to follow after experience had been gained with these. In fact only two cars were ordered, and these were delivered in 1934. Both were built by MetropoIitan-Cammell and were of all-metal construction: Nº2 was a bogie car, and Nº9 a four-wheeler. In appearance and construction they were very similar to cars which the same builder was then supplying to Edinburgh Corporation. Nº9 had a very low seating capacity of 48, this being partly offset by the high standing capacity (30) of the lower saloon. Straight staircases and front exits took up a disproportionate amount of space in a fairly short car; the Spencer Commission expressed itself astonished that the car should have been ordered at all, and they were not impressed by the general manager's arguments about the lower maintenance costs of four-wheel cars. This, the Commissioners said, merely showed the need for new management. (The Edinburgh cars, also four-wheel, but without the front exits, seated 62.) Comfortable leather upholstered seats were provided, air-operated folding doors enclosed the platforms, and air-operated Metrovick contactor control was provided. As well as air and magnetic track brakes, regenerative braking was fitted, and this showed a substantial saving in current consumption. Nº9 had lively acceleration and a good turn of speed, but, it proved difficult to limit its coasting speed when regenerating and it gained the reputation of being accident-prone. Finally, after it had run away and demolished a passenger shelter at Crown Mines in 1950, it was laid up and scrapped in 1956. It was an interesting experiment, but high-speed, low-capacity cars could never have proved economical in Johannesburg and it was scarcely surprising that Nº9 had no successors. Nº2

• • •

Built in 1934 by Metropolitan Cammell Carriage & Wagon Company Ltd., Birmingham, England. Dimensions: overall length 33ft 10in, width 7ft 3in, height 15ft 2 ¼in Seating: 26 inside, 34 upstairs, total 60. Official standing capacity 30.



Electrical equipment supplied by Metropolitan- Vickers. Four MV 105 35hp motors, Metrovick series remote contactor control. Trucks: EMB heavyweight radial-arm bogies. Braking: hand, rheostatic, Metrovick air and magnetic track brakes.

The experimental bogie car, Nº2, was structurally very similar to Nº9 but somewhat longer and seated 60 passengers. Safety interlocking, preventing the simultaneous application of power and brakes, was tried for the first time in Johannesburg. The low seating capacity was again due partly to the provision of front exit doors and large standing areas. This car was more successfUl than the four-wheeler, and remained in service until 1959; it was soid for scrap in 1960. Nº 201-226, 15, 21, 27, 28, 36, 46, 53, 55, 63, 64, 71, 78, 82, 87, 89, 90, 93, 95, 96, 97, 100, 122, 129, 133 (total 50 cars). • Built in 1936 by Metropolitan Cannnell Carriage & Wagon Company Ltd., Birmingham, England. • Dimensions: overall length 37ft 8in, width 7ft 2in, height 15ft 7in • Seating: 32 inside, 44 upstairs, total 76 (78?). Official standing capacity 16. • Electrical equipment supplied by Metropolitan-Vickers. Four MV 109 35hp motors, Metrovick 24-volt electro-pneumatic remote regenerative control. • Trucks: 25 cars EMB heavyweight radial-arm bogies, 25 cars Maley & Taunton swing link bogies, as: listed in text. • Service braking: air and regenerative. • Emergency braking: air and magnetic track. • Cars with EMB trucks had Metrovick type AN master controller incorporating BMB air brake interlock. Cars with M. & T. trucks had Metrovick type EP master controllers with a separate M. & T. valve for the air wheel brake. Having gained some experience with the two experimental cars, and bearing in mind the Spencer Commission's strictures on four-wheelers, JMT in July 1935 ordered fifty new double-deck bogie trams from Metropolitan Cammell, the first of which entered service in July 1936, and cost approximately £4,650 each delivered. These cars were a great advance on any which had previously run in Johannesburg, and were fully equal to the best British practice of the period. Half


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS were mounted on EMB heavyweight trucks similar to those of Nยบ2 and used in some numbers at Liverpool (where they where henceforth known as "Joburgs") and half were on Maley & Taunton link trucks as used on the Middleton bogie cars at Leeds. Both types of truck provided a steady and comfortable ride, and the improvement on the hard riding of the older cars was greatly appreciated. By December 1936, all fifty cars were in service. The first 26 were given the numbers 201-226, but the rest filled 24 numbers left "acant by the withdrawal of the single-deckers and the transfer of single-truck cars to native service. The numbers were allocated as follows:Maley and Taunton trucks: 15, 28, 36, 53, 63, 71, 82, 87, 90, 96, 97, 122,201,203,205, 207, 209, 211, 213, 215, 217, 219, 221, 223, 225. EMB trucks: 21, 27, 46, 55, 64, 78, 89, 93, 95, 100, 129, 133, 202, 204, 206, 208, 210, 212, 214 216 218, 220, 222, 224, 226. Two further pairs of EMB bogies were shipped out as spares, one set early in 1937 and the other in 1939. The bodies were of all-metal, lightweight steel and aluminium construction, and the streamlined ends of the new cars and their new livery, which were fully in accordance with contemporary taste, attracted much attention. Amongst the innovations were step lights, route number screens and the stopping sign and trafficators incorporated above the headlamp. These were used for a short time only, and were replaced by manually-operated semaphore arms, which were also fitted to the older cars. These arms, about fifteen inches long, were operated by a cord; when the driver pulled this, the arm waved about in a rather grotesque fashion, but, if manipulated properly, it could usefully distinguish between a 45 degree and a 90 degree turn. The only other alteration to the cars made by the I.M.T. was to replace the metal shields over the air intakes by grids, to allow a freer flow of air. Internally, the cars followed the layout of Nยบ2, with inward-facing bench seats at the ends of the upper saloon. Mechanically and electrically also the new cars showed much similarity with Nยบ2. Electrical and brake equipment was by


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS Metropolitan-Vickers, with four MV 35hp motors; the cars were governed to a maximum of 30 miles/h., but higher speeds are reputed to have been attained in service. The safety interlocking, preventing the simultaneous application of power and brakes, was fitted in the twenty-five EMB cars, but due to a fault in the original wiring, when the controller was moved back the brakes were released instead of applied; this led to a spate of runaways, all being EMB cars. Within a few weeks cars 214 and 212 had both overturned at the foot of Berg Street in Belgravia, fortunately without fatalities. The fault was soon corrected, but these cars remained rather prone to runaways and in December 1939 NÂş220 ran away at Parktown North and chewed up a suburban garden in a thoroughly vicious manner. At first used to convey the crowds to the Empire Exhibition in Milner Park, the new cars were later placed in service on all routes except Crown Mines, which was the preserve of the experimental cars. For their first four years, they gave remarkably trouble-free service. Early in 1942, the stock of special 27 inch tyres for these cars ran out, and, as none could be expected from the U.K. for some time, it seemed as if the cars would have to be laid up. However, the maintenance staff discovered that worn tyres could successfully be built up by welding, and eight cars had been so treated, with eminently satisfactory results, before shipment of new tyres made it unnecessary to continue the practice. By the early 1950s, these cars had begun to suffer seriously from corrosion, quite apart from the difficulty of piecemeal replacement of accident damage. Similar trouble was experienced with the contemporary all-metal cars at Edinburgh, and it would seem that at the time all these vehicles were built, not enough was known about the prevention of electrolytic action in metal bodywork. Patchwork repair of the worst spots helped for a while, but by 1953, it would have been necessary to spend ÂŁ600 on each car to keep them in service. As the J.M.T. was not prepared to spend this money, the cars were gradually laid up as the defects in the bodywork became serious; by 1960, the entire series, was out of service. Five of the more roadwol1thy cars had to be pressed into service on the ceremonial last run, when the JMT ran out of serviceable cars to carryall the crowds offering. First to be withdrawn were 220 and 226 in 1957 (due, in 220's case, to accident damage), followed by 36 in 1958. Of the others, 55 and 129 had gone by 1960 and


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS all the others were then in store, though only 28, 46, 63, 71, 122, 205, 208, 209, 213, 215, 216 and 217 were disposed of prior to the final closure. The remaining 33 cars were then sold for scrap to Regent Metals, except for EMB car 214 preserved in the James Hall Museum of Transport and M. & T. Car 82 which was purchased complete less motors by the proprietor of the Kraalkop Hotel and is in use there as a snack bar, standing on fifty feet of grooved rail. Kraalkop is 40 miles from Johannesburg on the Potchefstroom Road. Although they were the most modern trams ever to run in South Africa, the premature withdrawal of these cars with body defects was probably a major factor in the demise of the tram in Johannesburg. Works Cars Nineteen works cars (known officially in Johannesburg as Service Cars, as distinct from the passenger-carrying Revenue Cars) existed at various times, the maximum number in stock being fifteen from 1910 to 1917. By 1920 the number had declined to six, and this was not again exceeded. First to arrive were two sprinkler cars, late in 1905, which were built by the Electric Railway & Tramway Carriage Works Ltd., Preston, and shipped with passenger cars 1-40. Their equipment was the same as that of 1-40: Brill 21E 6ft 6in trucks, DK 34A motors, DK controllers and magnetic brakes. Three more identical cars arrived from the United Electric Car Company in 1907, and each had a tank to hold 1,800 gallons of water; electrically-driven pumps sprayed this up to a distance of 25ft on either side of the track. Which must have made a welcome contribution to the atmosphere of Johannesburg before 1914. Rotary sweeping brushes were also fitted When road surfaces had improved and the dust was a thing of the past, all five sprinklers (which were lettered A to E) were converted in 1919/20 to native cars, though one later served as a rail-grinder and another as wire greaser. There were also eight freight cars for departmental use, three with closed van-t)\pe bodies for stores and five with open wagon bodies for ballast. All were on Brill 21E 6k 6in trucks, and the closed cars, which were ordered from Dick Kerr & Company in November 1905 and cost ÂŁ600 each, had the same equipment as the first passenger cars. The van bodies were built by the Gloucester Carriage & Wagon Company as sub-contractors. The five open wagons were built in 1908,


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS and cost ÂŁ580 each. In 1918, one freight car was rebuilt as a passenger car (136) for Europeans, at a cost of ÂŁ2,553. Three more were rebuilt as native cars in 1920, and two more in 1931, leaving two in stock, of which one was converted in 1935 to a breakdown car. Both this and the surviving freight car were scrapped about 1946. There were also two tower wagon trams. One was built in 1910 on the truck and under-frame of NÂş51 after its accident at Yeoville; the other was built in 1906 as a trailer tower wagon on an ex-horse car under-frame. In later years it was driven by a petrol-electric motor taken from one of the original Tilling-Stevens municipal motor buses, connected by chain drive to one of the axles. The tower was raised by hand, using a pawl and ratchet drive. A 32hp Albion road motor tower wagon was acquired in 1911, and further motor tower wagons took over the work in later years. Both tower wagon trams were still in existence, disused, in 1945, though deleted from the official stock lists in 1938; their ultimate fate is unknown. In 1936, single-decker 15 became an illuminated car and served as such until 1942, when it was converted to rail-grinder T2 and lasted to the time of closure in 1961, becoming the J.M.T.'s last works car. Earlier, one 4-wheel Native car had served as a rail-grinder from 1935 to 1942, and another was converted from passenger car 94 in 1953 and served until 1956, though not scrapped until 1960. Its number, T1, reflected J.M.T.'s use of the term track-grinder, rather than rail-grinder. Native Cars The four-wheel Native cars built by JMT from 1919 onwards were almost identical to the original single-truck oars after their rebuilding, the only outward difference being deeper waist and rocker panels. The first five, NI-5, took the trucks and equipments of the five spI1inklers and entered service, three in 1919 and two in 1920. Three freight cars were converted similarly in 1920 to become N6-8, and two more became N9-10 in 1930. Their capacity in native service was 90 passengers. At first the Native cars were painted silver, but in 1936 some were turned out in olive green and cream. Later, the livery reverted to silver, with a red and black flash on the dash. In 1947 the N numbers were discontinued and the surviving cars were renumbered to follow the all-metal cars, N1-1O becoming


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS respectively 227-229, 231-235, 230 and 237. N1-N9 were withdrawn in October 1949, and N10 was converted to a wire greaser. N11-N30 were 4-wheel cars transferred from European service in 1937 to 1938 after the Spencer Commission had recommended the expansion of native services. The renumbering sequence is known for cars 22, 23, 29, 35, 37, 38, 82, 88, 96 and 129, which became respectively N20, N21, N17, N25, N26, N27, N13, N18, N15 and N12. The other ten numbers in the N11 - N30 group were filled by cars 24, 25, 30, 31, 32, 33, 40, 45, 81 and 99, but it is not known in what order. N11 was withdrawn after an accident in 1946, followed within three years by N28-30; N13-27 were renumbered in sequence in 1947-9 as 239-253, and N12 became 236. All these cars were withdrawn between 1949 and 1953. After 1946, cars, 1, 3, 8, 11, 13, 47 and 61 were also on native service, but were not renumbered. The first bogie cars to enter native service were Brush cars 111-120 of 1913, which became Native cars N31-40 (in sequence) in 1941. N32 was severely damaged when it overturned in Jan Smuts Avenue in 1946, and was withdrawn from service. The under-frame and most of the lower deck of the car lay for some years in Nยบ2 shed before being scrapped. In 1950 the remaining nine cars were renumbered 254-262 in sequence, although some did not receive their new numbers. Most of the remainder were withdrawn between 1956 and 1959; N31 (254) was the last survivor, and worked the north-eastern services until 1960. As the 4-wheel Native cars were withdrawn from service after the war, they were replaced by maximum traction oars 101-110, transferred from European stock. These were not renumbered, and merely had their dashes painted silver pending complete repainting. Six cars, Nยบ101-5 and 110, were withdrawn in 1957: Nยบ108 was withdrawn in 1951, after being extensively damaged in a collision with a lorry in Bezuidenhout Valley, and 106, 107 and 109 were withdrawn between 1958 and 1960. From the introduction of the first three Native cars in 1919, the number rose to eight in 1920-1930 and ten in 1931-5. The expansion of native services brought the number to 30 in 1938 and 40 during the war, with a gradual decline after 1948. The total passenger fleet including Native cars reached its maximum of 242 in 1946 and remained static until 1948, declining to 215 in 1950-51, 203 in 1953 -


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS 1954, 185 in 1956, 167 in 1958 and 100 in 1960, the last complete year of operation. 86 cars were still in stock at the time of closure in March 1961, comprising two four-whee1lers, 51 Air Bogies' and 33 streamliners, but some had been out of service for several years due to damage sustained in accidents. Destination Equipment The original cars were delivered with Dick Kerr Leicester-type illuminated destination boxes mounted on stanchions at the ends of the upper deck, supplemented by wooden route boards carried in clips on the lower deck waist rail, and by sea-vice colour code lamps displayed on the offside of the front bulkheads, a position not particularly easy to see from the pavement. The colour codes were quite elaborate, with separate indications for the more important short workings, as listed in chapter two. Cross-city services had the same colour code for each section, and later the entire southern suburbs network was given a single colour combination. As extensions were opened, the destination blinds were supplemented by metal plates hung on the dash. The Spencer Commission thought the codes were inadequate, and route letters were therefore introduced in 1936; the boxes to display these were cut into the canopy on the older cars. Side destination boxes replaced the waist boards in the late twenties. The 1936 system was simple. Starting with Twist Street, the services were lettered A to L in a clockwise direction. The outer terminus was shown by 1, the short working nearest to it by 2, and so on. The only exceptions were the Yeoville/Observatory and Mayfair/Crown Mines services, which shared letters. As passengers tended to confuse Kensington (F) with Bezuidenhout Valley (E), the latter service was soon giving the letter “O” instead. On inward journeys, cars on services A, Band C indicated whether they were running via Eloff, Troye or Rissik Streets. All services from D to L showed "City-Stad" only on inward journeys, and this was also used for depot workings. Twist Street and Jeppe’s Extension seem to have been the only termini to be shown on destination blinds in English and Afrikaans, English or Afrikaans alone being used in all other cases. When working, express trams showed "Express Tram-Sneltrem" in the via blind on the dash. All cars built before 1932 had a board mounted above the platform which could be displayed to show "Full-Vol".


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS Red cars working on native services had a board fastened to the dash reading "Non-European-Nie Europeane". Native cars usually showed no destination, but at one point they had separate service numbers. Details of these have unfortunately not survived. Liveries The exact livery of the horse trams is not known, but hand-coloured street views show several different styles over the years and the cars may have been painted according to the route, or in a livery of chocolate and cream. The first forty electric cars were turned out in light brown and cream, but after this the brown was changed to a deep chocolate, elaborately lined out in gold. From 1922, newly built cars received a new livery of blue and grey. The experimental cars of 1934 were painted unlined cherry red, a slightly darker shade than that used by London Transport. This was retained for the modern cars, with the addition of cream upper panels and a silver roof, with black trim; originally some of these cars had red upper panels with a cream band swept down at each 'end, but these were soon reversed. All 'other cars (except those transferred to native service)were subsequently repainted in the cherry red and cream, the air brake bogie cars receiving the end streamlined effect, which sat rather uneasily on their basically angular design. The silver and olive green liveries used on native cars have been described previously. Between 1936 and 1957, all the red cars were kept in excellent condition and often ran for many years without needing a complete repaint. After 1957, no more repainting was done, and cars could be seen in varying shades of red where accident damage had been patched up. The enclosed horse cars of the Johannesburg City and Suburban Tramway Company bore that title in a garter on the waist panel. The first electric cars carried the letters JMT on the waist panel. This was soon replaced by a garter with the full title. With the new livery of 1936, the city's coat of arms was used instead. Buses and trolley buses had a cream waist rail with the gold letters JMT above the coat of arms, but this was not applied to :the trams, and was omitted on the others in the 1960s, to simplify repainting. Advertisements were introduced (or reintroduced) on the horse cars in 1903, and were carried on roof boards. In 1906, a contract was awarded to Messrs. A. Culborne for advertising on the decency boards and ventilators of the electric


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS cars, payment to be made on a car mileage basis. This apparently proved unsatisfactory, and the contract was cancelled in 1907 and replaced by one awarded to A. B. Saltz; as well as the passenger cars, he was allowed to operate on the sides of the sprinkler cars. Advertising was discontinued in October 1935, following a recommendation of the Spencer Commission, but was resumed after the war, when it was extended to include the dashes. Some really ingenious advertisements involving the headlamp were then devised by the sign-writers, and the fleet numbers 0hitherto -carried on each side of the headlamp) were replaced by a single number above the windscreen. Johannesburg, however, 'has at no time allowed its vehicles to become the mobile advertisement hoardings seen in other South African cities. Between 1912 and 1918 the Parks Department displayed "transparent photographs" of local beauty spots in the car interiors, and advertising machines in which a vacuum caused the advertisements to change at intervals, were briefly tried on the platforms during 1938/39. Current Collection Current collection was by trolley pole and wheel, originally with non-swivelling heads; crossing wires were provided at crossovers. The trolleys were turned by a rope, secured by Wilson’s trolley catchers. Swivelling trolley heads were adopted in the 1920s, and the trolley catchers ceased to be used. Following recent experience in Britain, fifteen cars (Nº121-135) were fitted about 1933 -with Fischer bow collectors and concentrated on the Mayfair route, where the overhead had been suitably realigned. One car was later given a pantograph instead of the bow -collector, but neither form of current collection was continued and the cars reverted to trolley poles. Instead, the streamlined cars (and the new; trolley buses) used Brecknell Willis sliding carbon-insert trolley Shoes in place of trolley wheels, and this was extended to the entire fleet by 1949. During the changeover period in 1945-49 it was necessary to lubricate the overhead, and Native car N10 (237) served as a wire greasing car. The collector shoe was known in Johannesburg as a slipper.


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS Chapter 7 TRAM RIDE TO NEWLANDS, 1957 (Contributed by Des Howarth) My journey to Newlands by tram was planned over a cold "lager" in the old Guildhall bar one sunny winter's morning. The Guildhall is on the corner of Market and Harrison Streets in what may be called the hub of Johannesburg's tramway system, and above the chatter in the pub could be heard the high pitched whine of the motors and the impatient clanging of the bells of the trams crossing Harrison Street. As most of the patrons lined up along the bar counter were "off duty" tramway-men it was not difficult to ascertain the frequency of the Newlands service-which turned out to be a very generous eighteen minutes each way throughout the valley shift As the time on the clock behind the bar was 10:25 and the next departure scheduled for 10:42, there was just enough time for another quick beer. The starting point for the Newlands tram was between Market and President Streets with the City Hall and the Cenotaph on the east side, and Simmonds Street to the west. This area is the only true tramway station in the city as all the other starting' points are situated either in Market Street or Loveday Street. The Newlands tram with its route indicator reading "J1" and the destination blind showing "NEWLANDS" was a1lready in by the time I sprinted across the road to the Square. Climbing aboard I made my way to the upper front closed-in balcony, and as I was the only passenger to choose the balcony, I spread myself comfortably along the seat, using the bulkhead as a backrest. The tram, number 197, was one of the 1929 JMT built "air-bogies" that were originally built with open upper balconies and lower platforms. These particular cars were originally painted in navy blue and dove grey and were referred to as the "Bluebirds".


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS With a blast from the inspector's whistle, a ding-dong from the conductor and an answering clang-clang from the motorman we moved slowly out of the square into President Street and then almost immediately left into Harrison Street. As Harrison Street is one of only two of the city’s outlets to the north western suburbs our progress was slow and the conductor had completed his fare collections before we had reached the Bree Street junction. With the melodious ding of the conductor's Bell Punch adding to the general traffic noises I was gently relieved of 9d and in its place handed a pink ticket with a neat circular hole punched through the "Out" portion. The corner of Harrison and Bree Street was the junction for the Newlands, Melville and Parktown North routes. The Newlands route turned left at the junction and is made up of Newlands (J1); Westdene (J2); Brixton (J3); and Cemetery (J4). The other two routes which continue down Harrison Street were made up of Melville (KI and K2); Auckland Park (K3); Vrededorp (K4); Braamfontein (K5); Parktown North (L1); Lake-Parkview (L2); and Zoo (L3). The Harrison and Bree Street intersection is also the home of the Johannesburg Traffic Department. As we proceeded down Bree Street so the pattern of the traffic changed for we were approaching the Newtown Market and the number of vehicles competing for the "right-of-way" was many and varied. Intermingled with the usual assortment of trucks and cars there were Percheron horses making light work of butchers' carts, and brewery wagons drawn by Clydesdales, wobbly four-wheeled African carts drawn by wobbly looking horses or mules, donkey carts and Jinrickshas, cyclists and flower sellers, not forgetting the African and Asiatic buses, the trams, and of course, the Indian Sammy carts (the fresh fruit and vegetable vendors) with bells, that tinkle at every movement, fixed to their horses' harnesses. Fix in a couple of sticks of burning incense, Indian curry and spices, and that is Bree Street, Newtown. They say there is a special reason for the harness bells found on the Sammy carts. The story goes that when Johannesburg changed over to electric traction the tramway horses were sold to the Indian vendors. When they harnessed their tram horses to the carts the trouble started, for the horses refused to move and no amount of persuasion whether it was apples, curses or beatings, would induce them to move. In desperation the Indians called on the Tramways Department


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS and laid their complaints. After trying out different ways to encourage the horses to pull the carts, without success, one tramway-man suggested that as the horses were trained to obey the sound of the tram bell, they should fit bells to their carts. This was, tested to the satisfaction of all, including the horses, but as tram bells were far too costly, small bells were fixed to the harnesses. (And they shall have music wherever they go.) As we approached the Market so the traffic congestion, together with the shouts and curses of the market crowds, increased. The Newtown market was built early in the century and it is here that the only tramway platform complete with canopy shelter is found. In the early days many of the other services terminated and commenced here and in 1913 a special "Market Ticket" was issued on boarding any car at any stage before reaching the City Hall if proceeding to the market-the additional ride from the City Hall being free to those passengers. This concession was withdrawn during 1916. A tramway "Shark" (inspector) boarded the car here and examined and clipped each passenger's ticket whilst checking the number against the conductor's waybill. Now my pink ticket not only had a neat circular hole through it but also a big chunk clipped from the edge. Leaving the market we continued down Bree Street and entered old Burghersdorp at Malherbe Street. The township of Burghersdorp was given to the poor Afrikaner burgers (townsfolk) of the Transvaal by President Kruger, to replace the shanty town, built by the burgers, which was flattened in the Braamfontein railway siding dynamite explosion in 1896, with many of its inhabitants injured or killed. Burghersdorp today is the home of Indians, Malays, and Cape Coloureds, with the Indians and Malays still to be seen in their traditional dress. From Bree Street we turned into Burghersdorp Street and, after running parallel to the railway yard, we slipped into the Vrededorp subway over which passes the main railway line to Krugersdorp and points south and west. Emerging from the subway we entered Vrededorp (Peacetown) travelling along De la Rey Street to 8th Street where we turned left. The streets of Vrededorp are so narrow that at the turn into 8th Street the tracks were interlaced and, to safeguard against the event of two trams meeting on the corner, the intersection was controlled by automatic colour light signals fitted to a street lighting pole. The lights always


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS showed a green aspect and only changed to red when a tram entered the section. We were unlucky on this trip for as we approached the controlled section the signal turned to red indicating that another car had just entered the section. We pulled up with a grinding of the brakes much to the annoyance of a line of motorists that had been following us from the subway. We had hardly stopped rolling when around the corner swung a 1936 "streamliner". As the car left the section the light turned to green and we continued on our journey through Vrededorp, which consists of a heterogeneous society of all races. As we left Vrededorp the name of the street changed to Caroline Street Extension and the double track left the centre-of-the-road and continued along reserved track on the northern boundary of the Brixton Cemetery, the home of many famous people, including my grandparents. How peaceful the cemetery looked with its trees, tombstones and flowers, and the doves gently gliding from the tops of the trees to the paths between the graves. The two lines separated at the western boundary of the cemetery with the outward bound track using the centre of Collins Street and the inward bound track running along the sidewalk of Caroline Street - so close to the garden fences and walls that there was hardly any room for the passengers to board or alight from the trams. Hursthill was our next suburban call and was where the two lines rejoined to run on reserved track on the north side of Portland Avenue. At Perth Road the line crossed from the north side of the road to the south side and then ran parallel to the native township, into which a branch line for the exclusive use of the African inhabitants ran. Seeing the township reminded me that this was the reason why some of the streamliners used on the Newlands route had been fitted with heavy wire mesh screening on the outskirts of all windows, including the lower platforms. This was to protect the passengers and crews against ballast and half bricks, not to mention other missiles, thrown at the trams during the dark hours. Running along the reserved track we were able to make up the time lost in Harrison Street and Newtown Market and we were soon running through Newlands to the terminus. From 15th Street the tram entered a single-line section


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS of about half a mile to the end of the line at Long Road, just a short distance from the Johannesburg boundary with the Maraisburg suburb of Delarey; eight and a half miles from the City Hall. The journey from the Guildhall had taken just over thirty-five minutes on a route that passes through some of Johannesburg's oldest and poorest suburbs, and as the motorman passed through the tram with the controller key in his hand and the conductor moved the trolley w the other end of the car, I changed from the one end of the car to the other for the return journey to the city.


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS Chapter 8 ADMINISTRATION AND STAFF Administration The administration of the tramway system was subject to rather more changes than were usual on a comparable British system. At first, the Department was known as Gas, Electric Supply and Tramways Department. The first general manager was J. F. 1. Thomas, who had been the resident engineer of Mordey and Dawbarn; he was appointed on October 1, 1905, and resigned on October 31, 1908, being replaced as Tramways Manager by J. H. Tyrell, who had been manager of the horse cars since their inception and who had acted as Traffic Manager to Mr. Thomas. His salary was £1,000 p.a., although he had earned £1,600 during the days of the company. Mr. Tyrell resigned on May 23, 1911, and was replaced by Professor J. H. Dobson, who was already the town's Electrical Engineer. He had already expressed opposition to some of the proposed extensions and under his régime; the first motorbus services were inaugurated. Under Professor Dobson, gas, electricity and tramways were again one department. On August 1, 1919, the Department was again separated from those of Gas and Electricity and a new manager was appointed, though Professor Dobson retained the position of Chief Engineer. He was alleged to have found the remuneration for the combined post inadequate. The new manager was G. B. Milford, who had begun his career in the Town Clerk's department in 1902 and had been Traffic Manager to Professor Dobson. On May 31, 1930, he was retired "on the ground of re-organisation", though it is not now clear what re-organisation, if any, was being contemplated at that time. He was replaced by L.M. Barry, who had worked his way up from the ranks, having been successively conductor, inspector, Chief Inspector, Traffic Superintendent and Assistant Manager. Possibly the appointment was made in a hurry, as he was at first only Acting Manager and was not confirmed in the post until October 21. On March 23, 1935, his title was changed to General Manager of Transport.


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS Initially, all aspects of tramway operation were under the general manager of the combined department, but when it was split up in 1908, control of the overhead remained with the Electricity Department. On the occasion of the next split in 1919, the Tramways Department was given responsibility only for running the service, construction and repair of the cars, track and overhead remaining with the Electricity Department. Such dual control was hardly satisfactory and may have been partly responsible for the decline in the condition of the system in the 1920s. Mr. Barry was not in favour of it and in 1931 submitted a report to the Tramway and Lighting Committee in which he suggested that, as the tramways manager was responsible for the financial position of his department, he should be in a position to control every item of ,its expenditure. To begin with, he suggested that the tram and bus depots should be placed under his control, the Electricity Department carrying out repairs, etc., only as a contractor. He went on to say that the track and overhead "ought not to be lost sight of" and should be transferred to the Tramways Department at a future date. With a scarcely-veiled thrust at his predecessor, he concluded "until that happens, the man in charge will always be shrugging his shoulders and throwing the blame for lack of success on other people". At first his arguments did not carry much weight, since all that happened was that responsibility for the track was transferred from the Electricity Department to the City Engineer's Department. But the Spencer Commission endorsed the views of the General Manager and in January 1935, the responsibility for the depot and workshops and for the overhead was transferred to the Transport Department. The track remained with the Engineer's Department until the end of the tramways. Mr. Barry retired in 1943 and was succeeded by M. L. Merry; in turn he was replaced by E. F. Gait. The premises initially occupied by the Transport Department consisted of five rooms in the Market Buildings, which then occupied the corner of Market and Harrison Streets; these were rented from the Parks Department at ÂŁ60 per month. In 1911, the administrative offices were transferred to the power station in President Street, the cashier's office remaining in Market Buildings until December 1914, when they moved into the new Town Hall. There they were joined by the administrative staff in August 1919. All offices were transferred to the new Transport House in Newtown in December 1938.


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS Depots The first depot, in later days known as No. 1 shed, adjoined the generating station in Newtown and was completed in March 1906, at a cost of £16,380 17s. Id. Residential accommodation was provided nearby for 71 single employees, at a charge of 25s per month for a single room or 17s 6d for shared accommodation. Smaller depots, also with residential quarters, were opened at Malvern in 1907 and Turffontein in 1908. The use of the smaller depots for passenger cars was given up in 1910 and thereafter they housed freight cars, etc. By 1929, the department had no further use for .them and they were taken over by other municipal departments. There was little demand for residential accommodation after the First World War and this provision was withdrawn in February 1923, the quarters being taken over by the Parks Department for use as offices. As the fleet grew, the main depot became inadequate and an extension was built at the rear in 1925. A new depot was also built at Newtown (No. 2 shed) in 1926, at a cost of £31,820, but it was used as a bus garage until 1931, when a new garage was built nearby. No. 2 shed was extended in 1935 to provide some accommodation for trolleybuses. These acquired their own depot in Raitt Street in 1938 and No. 2 shed was thereafter used mainly to store surplus cars. Repair work had until then been carried out in the depot, but in 1935 it was decided to provide separate workshops along with new offices in Goch Street, Newtown. These cost £143,166 and came into use in August 1939. The facilities proved to be invaluable during the war both in the task of keeping the trams on the road and in building vehicles to help the war effort. The first shelters provided for tram passengers were the bodies of ex-horse oars removed from their trucks. Later these were replaced by iron shelters, some of which survived until the closure of the system. Modern shelters were either of brick or prefabricated steel. Route maps were generally conspicuous by their absence, though timetables were displayed at strategic points on the system until 1938; after that date, they were displayed only at central area termini.


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS In the first year of electric working, motormen and conductors alike were paid at a rate of Is. 4d per hour and normally worked a 60 hour week; as they were given 7s. 6d. for their one rest day, the total wage was £4 7s. 6d. Inspectors were paid £4 10s 0d and traffic foremen £1 10s 0d. In spite of these rates, which were high by British standards, it was difficult to retain staff and on March 22, 1907, the Tramway and Lighting Committee met a deputation from the running staff. As a result, wages were raised on April 1. The staff was now divided into three grades, depending on length of service, and first grade men, who had to have over one year's satisfactory service, received 1s 6d per hour, with two good conduct stripes. The working week was reduced to 54 hours and overtime was to be paid at time and a quarter. Beginners were employed on a casual basis at 1s 6d per hour, with no payment on rest days. Uniforms and caps were issued every six months and motormen received a mackintosh and sou'wester every two years, these all remaining the property of the Department. Two weeks annual holiday (at a rate of £5 per week) were granted from April 1911, when maximum wages for men with four years' continuous service became 1s 8d per hour. The native trolley boys and messengers, whose wages are not recorded, were replaced by European staff in 1913, at a rate of 5s 6d per day. Wages were again increased; by Id. an hour, in December 1915 and a maximum of 1s 10d per hour was introduced for men with five years' service. The war resulted in further increases in 1917, 1918 (in January and again in March) and 1920, bringing the maximum to 2s 6d per hour. Meanwhile the working week was reduced to 48 hours, then to 44 in July 1919, with no decrease in pay. A war bonus of £1 5s 0d per month was also paid from November 1916. Employees on active service received 25s per month from 1916. Clearly such increases could not continue indefinitely and in fact the limit had been reached; four separate reductions of 5 per cent were made in 1921 and these no doubt encouraged tramwaymen's support for the Rand Revolt. The working week was extended to 48 hours and the maximum rate fixed at 2s 1d per hour. However in 1922 the General Purposes Committee of the Council made its


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS own investigations into the increased cost of living since 1914 and found that it had reached 34 per cent; increases of 8s per week were then made to all grades. Wages then remained fixed for 14 years, although the overtime payment became time and a half in 1924. In 1936, an arbitrator was called in and as a result of increases awarded, the weekly wage now ranged from £5 16s 0d to £6 15s 0d after fifteen years' service. Bus and trolleybus drivers received the same rates, but their conductors were paid at lower rates. Points boys were now receiving £2 10s 0d and cleaners £1 15s 0d. Paid sick leave was introduced in October 1920. A maximum of three weeks full, and three weeks half pay was allowed in anyone calendar year. Under municipal operation, the only natives employed were pointsmen in the suburbs; in 1923 there were 32 of these. They worked nine hours per day every day in the year for an average wage of £45 per annum. In 1924, under a Council relief scheme, they were replaced by Europeans, at 7s 6d per day. Evidently they did not care for the job and had mostly resigned by March 1925, youths being then employed. These also proved difficult to retain and from March 1927, conductors worked these points


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS Chapter 9 FARES AND TICKETS The fares charged on the Johannesburg trams were always somewhat higher than those of British systems. On the horse trams, fares were in multiples of three pence, with a minimum of that amount, but on electrification the minimum fare was reduced to two pence, with penny stages thereafter. Payment was made by penny coupons, which could be bought beforehand at a discount; if a passenger boarded a car without coupons, the conductor sold him a card of six, at the full price of sixpence. Though in some ways thoroughly modern by present-day standards, this system was found to be difficult to operate in 1906 and it lasted only until October of that year. Fares were then increased to a minimum of 3d and a maximum of nd, with l!d. stages. Conductors were now allowed to issue tickets for cash, but coupons were still available, at a discount of 10 per cent on a 5s book. The half-fare for children was limited to those under 12, but monthly tickets for all schoolchildren were available at a minimum rate of 5 shillings for two stages and 2s 6d per additional stage; similar tickets for students under 21 cost 10 and 5 shillings. The discount on coupons was steadily increased. It became 20 per cent in June 1910, 25 per cent in September 1912, 33t per cent in 1920 (there had been a temporary reduction during the war) and finally 50 per cent in 1922. When this last reduction was made, all special and excursion fares were withdrawn and the effect on both the Department's finances and on public opinion was so disastrous that the discount reverted to 33t per cent in 1924 and to 10 per cent in 1927. Meanwhile there occurred the Great Coupon Forgery. In July 1923, there appeared among conductors' takings 2d coupons which had not been issued by the Department. The police were informed of the matter, but were quite unable to trace the source of the forgeries until one of the C.LD. officers concerned overheard a conversation in a restaurant, in which a commercial traveller was expressing surprise at having received a very large order for green paper from a very small printing firm in Johannesburg. The two owners of the firm and one official of the Department were subsequently convicted to four years' imprisonment each. All 2d coupons were then called in and checked and ÂŁ30 18s


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS 4d was paid to those who had bought forged coupons; the Department itself was none the poorer, as this money was taken from the staff provident fund. Coupons were, and are, sold at the office in the City Hall and by various stores. Until 1919, the latter were allowed 1 per cent commission on every ÂŁ5 of coupons sold. Nowadays coupons are sometimes given by stores instead of small change. Celluloid tokens were used instead of ltd. coupons from 1911 to 1921. The ordinary minimum fare was reduced to 1 1/2d in April 1911. It was raised to 2d in February 1921, with 2d stages thereafter. From 1927, fares on the longer routes were tapered, so that the 3d fare covered three stages and the 4d, fare in 1935, a 1d fare was introduced in the central area and in 1937 overlapping stages were introduced on all routes, following a suggestion by the Spencer Commission. Fares remained stable for a very long period after the Second World War, but were finally raised on April 1, 1954. The central area minimum remained at Id., but the second stage now cost 5d and the maximum became 9d. These fares were generally increased by 1d from July 1, 1958, but the minimum jumped from 1d to 5d The trams did not last long enough to see decimalisation, but in preparation for this change, which took place in South Africa in March 1961, the fares were modified on the basis of the existing silver coinage; they were then easily converted to decimal values. Thus the final fares on the Johannesburg trams were: 1 and 2 stages, 6d; 3-5 stages, 9d; over 5 stages, 1s High minimum fares were charged on some longer-distance cars leaving the city in the evening rush-hour. Workmen's fares were not provided at any time on the J.M.T. trams. The tram was therefore not identified with .cheap travel and so it escaped the proletarian associations of the British tram. On the other hand, there was, especially in the earlier years, quite a wide variety of special fares for various types of passenger. To coincide with the opening of the new market at Newtown in March 1913, market tickets were introduced, to allow free travel between the Town Hall and Newtown to any passenger on an inward-bound car. This concession was subject to much abuse and was replaced by a half-fare ticket in 1916. This in turn was withdrawn in 1922. Return tickets from all sections to the Zoo were issued at single fares from 1916 to 1923. Combined tram and swimming bath tickets were issued between 1909 and 1927, initially at a charge of 1s 3d and subsequently


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS increased. In 1921, the combined ticket for females was reduced to 1s 3d, an almost unique example of a tram fare being reduced for members of one sex only. The ticket was finally discontinued in 1927. In 1936, following London's example, a 1s all day ticket (6d for children) was introduced. It was confined to the trams, but there was also a ticket for all services at 1s 6d the description was somewhat misleading, as the ticket was available only between 09:00 and 16:30. The charge for this ticket had risen to 2s 6d by 1960. On race days, there was a flat fare of Is. to Turffontein. Residents -of that area could, however, obtain a special ticket allowing them to travel at ordinary fares. Between 1914 and the, opening of the direct line to Forest Hill in 1923, passengers travelling to or from there could obtain a transfer ticket, allowing them to travel via Booysens or via Rosettenville without extra charge. Until the early 1930s, the trams were obliged to provide free or cheap travel for many municipal or government servants. Policemen and their dogs, postmen and their mailbags, members of the Gas and Electricity Departments, municipal traffic police, public health and native affairs inspectors all travelled free of charge, and only in the case of the postmen did the Department receive any payment –in return. The loss of revenue was considerable and the situation drew unfavourable comment from the Spencer Commission. After 1935, therefore, these categories used coupons which the respective departments bought in bulk from the Transport Department. While the half-fare for children extended only to the age of twelve, compared to fourteen or fifteen in Britain, the facilities for scholars were always fairly generous. The monthly ticket was replaced by a term ticket in 1907 and in 1911 the charge for this was reduced from 5s to 2s 6d per stage. From July 1, 1919, scholars were allowed free travel, but this lasted only until October 1921, when a school coupon system was introduced, with Ÿd stages, giving a rare example of the use of farthings by a transport undertaking. In 1923, scholars' fares became ½d per stage and a 3/4d fare was introduced for university students. This was withdrawn in 1926. The Spencer Commission pointed out that scholars' fares were well below the commercial rate and thus involved a loss to the Department; it was suggested that the Education Department should make up the difference. This was not done, but the regulations governing the use of scholars' tickets were altered, to confine


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS them to journeys to and from school. When the stages were shortened in April 1937, the coupon gave two stages for 1/2d. When the electric system began operation, the Town Council resolved that its members should have free passes. Unfortunately the then mayor discovered that such a resolution was invalid and the 'members had to make do with coupons until 1910, when they were granted free travel. For this, the mayor's fund paid the Department ÂŁ100 per annum. Free transport to soldiers in uniform, but not officers, was allowed during the First World War, and again from July 1933. From that date, the Department received an annual payment of ÂŁ1,700 from the Department of Defence. This was inadequate to cover the numbers travelling during the Second World War, and it was therefore raised to ÂŁ2,750. Employees in uniform were always allowed free travel, but received no concessions for travel off-duty. Free travel between the City Hall and the depot was allowed to all employees of the Gas, Electricity and Transport Departments until 1939, when a special 1d coupon came into force. The tickets used throughout the life of the tramways were of the standard Bell Punch type. At first, multi-fare tickets, with five separate colours, one for each fare, were used. At the end of a shift: a conductor's takings were supposed to tally with the cash value of his clippings. This laborious system was soon dropped in favour of a separate ticket for each fare value, punched to show direction of travel and the stage boarded. Timetables, in English and Dutch, were published by various contractors from 1906 to 1915. When publication was resumed in 1924, English alone was used. Since September 1937, timetables have been issued in both English and Afrikaans. The fares charged on native services were always lower than those on European services. That to the Western Native Township remained at 2d from its inception until 1949, when the attempt to raise it to 3d ultimately caused the abandonment of the service. On other services, the fares were generally 1d below the comparable European fares. Apart from the Western Native Township service, the Department received no subsidy for these services.


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS Chapter 9 FARES AND TICKETS The fares charged on the Johannesburg trams were always somewhat higher than those of British systems. On the horse trams, fares were in multiples of three pence, with a minimum of that amount, but on electrification the minimum fare was reduced to two pence, with penny stages thereafter. Payment was made by penny coupons, which could be bought beforehand at a discount; if a passenger boarded a car without coupons, the conductor sold him a card of six, at the full price of sixpence. Though in some ways thoroughly modern by present-day standards, this system was found to be difficult to operate in 1906 and it lasted only until October of that year. Fares were then increased to a minimum of 3d and a maximum of nd, with l!d. stages. Conductors were now allowed to issue tickets for cash, but coupons were still available, at a discount of 10 per cent on a 5s book. The half-fare for children was limited to those under 12, but monthly tickets for all schoolchildren were available at a minimum rate of 5 shillings for two stages and 2s 6d per additional stage; similar tickets for students under 21 cost 10 and 5 shillings. The discount on coupons was steadily increased. It became 20 per cent in June 1910, 25 per cent in September 1912, 33t per cent in 1920 (there had been a temporary reduction during the war) and finally 50 per cent in 1922. When this last reduction was made, all special and excursion fares were withdrawn and the effect on both the Department's finances and on public opinion was so disastrous that the discount reverted to 33t per cent in 1924 and to 10 per cent in 1927. Meanwhile there occurred the Great Coupon Forgery. In July 1923, there appeared among conductors' takings 2d coupons which had not been issued by the Department. The police were informed of the matter, but were quite unable to trace the source of the forgeries until one of the C.LD. officers concerned overheard a conversation in a restaurant, in which a commercial traveller was expressing surprise at having received a very large order for green paper from a very small printing firm in Johannesburg. The two owners of the firm and one official of the Department were subsequently convicted to four years' imprisonment each. All 2d coupons were then called in and checked and ÂŁ30 18s


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS 4d was paid to those who had bought forged coupons; the Department itself was none the poorer, as this money was taken from the staff provident fund. Coupons were, and are, sold at the office in the City Hall and by various stores. Until 1919, the latter were allowed 1 per cent commission on every ÂŁ5 of coupons sold. Nowadays coupons are sometimes given by stores instead of small change. Celluloid tokens were used instead of ltd. coupons from 1911 to 1921. The ordinary minimum fare was reduced to 1 1/2d in April 1911. It was raised to 2d in February 1921, with 2d stages thereafter. From 1927, fares on the longer routes were tapered, so that the 3d fare covered three stages and the 4d, fare in 1935, a 1d fare was introduced in the central area and in 1937 overlapping stages were introduced on all routes, following a suggestion by the Spencer Commission. Fares remained stable for a very long period after the Second World War, but were finally raised on April 1, 1954. The central area minimum remained at Id., but the second stage now cost 5d and the maximum became 9d. These fares were generally increased by 1d from July 1, 1958, but the minimum jumped from 1d to 5d The trams did not last long enough to see decimalisation, but in preparation for this change, which took place in South Africa in March 1961, the fares were modified on the basis of the existing silver coinage; they were then easily converted to decimal values. Thus the final fares on the Johannesburg trams were: 1 and 2 stages, 6d; 3-5 stages, 9d; over 5 stages, 1s High minimum fares were charged on some longer-distance cars leaving the city in the evening rush-hour. Workmen's fares were not provided at any time on the J.M.T. trams. The tram was therefore not identified with .cheap travel and so it escaped the proletarian associations of the British tram. On the other hand, there was, especially in the earlier years, quite a wide variety of special fares for various types of passenger. To coincide with the opening of the new market at Newtown in March 1913, market tickets were introduced, to allow free travel between the Town Hall and Newtown to any passenger on an inward-bound car. This concession was subject to much abuse and was replaced by a half-fare ticket in 1916. This in turn was withdrawn in 1922. Return tickets from all sections to the Zoo were issued at single fares from 1916 to 1923. Combined tram and swimming bath tickets were issued between 1909 and 1927, initially at a charge of 1s 3d and subsequently


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS increased. In 1921, the combined ticket for females was reduced to 1s 3d, an almost unique example of a tram fare being reduced for members of one sex only. The ticket was finally discontinued in 1927. In 1936, following London's example, a 1s all day ticket (6d for children) was introduced. It was confined to the trams, but there was also a ticket for all services at 1s 6d the description was somewhat misleading, as the ticket was available only between 09:00 and 16:30. The charge for this ticket had risen to 2s 6d by 1960. On race days, there was a flat fare of Is. to Turffontein. Residents -of that area could, however, obtain a special ticket allowing them to travel at ordinary fares. Between 1914 and the, opening of the direct line to Forest Hill in 1923, passengers travelling to or from there could obtain a transfer ticket, allowing them to travel via Booysens or via Rosettenville without extra charge. Until the early 1930s, the trams were obliged to provide free or cheap travel for many municipal or government servants. Policemen and their dogs, postmen and their mailbags, members of the Gas and Electricity Departments, municipal traffic police, public health and native affairs inspectors all travelled free of charge, and only in the case of the postmen did the Department receive any payment –in return. The loss of revenue was considerable and the situation drew unfavourable comment from the Spencer Commission. After 1935, therefore, these categories used coupons which the respective departments bought in bulk from the Transport Department. While the half-fare for children extended only to the age of twelve, compared to fourteen or fifteen in Britain, the facilities for scholars were always fairly generous. The monthly ticket was replaced by a term ticket in 1907 and in 1911 the charge for this was reduced from 5s to 2s 6d per stage. From July 1, 1919, scholars were allowed free travel, but this lasted only until October 1921, when a school coupon system was introduced, with 1/4d stages, giving a rare example of the use of farthings by a transport undertaking. In 1923, scholars' fares became 1/2d per stage and a 3/4d fare was introduced for university students. This was withdrawn in 1926. The Spencer Commission pointed out that scholars' fares were well below the commercial rate and thus involved a loss to the Department; it was suggested that the Education Department should make up the difference. This was not done, but the regulations governing the use of scholars' tickets were


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS altered, to confine them to journeys to and from school. When the stages were shortened in April 1937, the coupon gave two stages for 1/2d. When the electric system began operation, the Town Council resolved that its members should have free passes. Unfortunately the then mayor discovered that such a resolution was invalid and the 'members had to make do with coupons until 1910, when they were granted free travel. For this, the mayor's fund paid the Department ÂŁ100 per annum. Free transport to soldiers in uniform, but not officers, was allowed during the First World War, and again from July 1933. From that date, the Department received an annual payment of ÂŁ1,700 from the Department of Defence. This was inadequate to cover the numbers travelling during the Second World War, and it was therefore raised to ÂŁ2,750. Employees in uniform were always allowed free travel, but received no concessions for travel off-duty. Free travel between the City Hall and the depot was allowed to all employees of the Gas, Electricity and Transport Departments until 1939, when a special 1d coupon came into force. The tickets used throughout the life of the tramways were of the standard Bell Punch type. At first, multi-fare tickets, with five separate colours, one for each fare, were used. At the end of a shift: a conductor's takings were supposed to tally with the cash value of his clippings. This laborious system was soon dropped in favour of a separate ticket for each fare value, punched to show direction of travel and the stage boarded. Timetables, in English and Dutch, were published by various contractors from 1906 to 1915. When publication was resumed in 1924, English alone was used. Since September 1937, timetables have been issued in both English and Afrikaans. The fares charged on native services were always lower than those on European services. That to the Western Native Township remained at 2d from its inception until 1949, when the attempt to raise it to 3d ultimately caused the abandonment of the service. On other services, the fares were generally 1d below the comparable European fares. Apart from the Western Native Township service, the Department received no subsidy for these services.


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS Chapter 10 OTHER TRAMWAYS, PROPOSED TRAMWAYS AND EARLY TROLLEYBUSES 1. The Rand Tram At the time when deep-level mining was first contemplated on the Rand, Transvaal was still without railways. An offer by the Cape Government Railway to extend their line had been refused, and although President Kruger in 1888 asked the Volksraad to authorise a line from Johannesburg to Pretoria, it was turned down by the members. The mining interests wished to build a local line linking Johannesburg with the coal deposits lying to the east, and, to avoid the opposition of the Volksraad, they called it a tramway. As the Volksraad members had, for the most part, no real idea of what a steam tram actually looked like; they were prepared to acquiesce in the arrangement, provided that the word railway was not used. The concession, for a steam tramway from Elandsfontein to the "Witwaterrandsche goudvelden", was granted on July 20, 1888, to the Zuid-Afrika Tramweg Maatschappij, and its provisions were modelled on those of the steam tramways then being built in the Netherlands. To further the tramway illusion, the company ordered three 0-4-0 enclosed tramway engines from Backer & Rueb of Breda, of that manufacturer's standard 10-ton design supplied to several Dutch tramways. Their works numbers were 68, 69 and 72 of 1889 and 1890, and their running numbers 6, 7 and 8. The 3ft. 6in. gauge line was built as a railway, and opened on February 10, 1891, by which time the Volksraad had relented and awarded a general railway concession to a Dutch company, the Nederlandsche Zuid-Afrikaansche Spoorweg Maatschappij (N.Z.A.S.M.), who quickly absorbed the tramway and used it as part of their future Johannesburg-Germiston -Pretoria main line, opened throughout in 1894. Today, the original portion is a quadruple-track electrified line of the South African Railways, but for many years it was still referred to as the Rand Tram. The three tram engines, later N.Z.A.S.M. 50-52, having served their original purpose were sold off in 1892 for industrial use, one going to Hunt Leuchards & Hepburn Ltd. at Lourenรงo Marques.


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS 2. The Johannesburg-Boksburg Tramway On October 15, 1899, a concession was granted by the government to Oscar Scheuermann of Exchange Buildings, Johannesburg, to construct and work by animal power a single track tramway from the Jeppestown terminus of the Johannesburg horse tramways to Boksburg -Vogelfontein, about 12 miles to the east. The gauge was to be not less than 3ft. 6in., and the line was to run along the centre line of the roads concerned. As there were no local authorities in the area concerned, all the correspondence was conducted with the government itself, who specified that the contractor must ballast, pave and maintain the road and maintain all the bridges and culverts. All the stopping places were to be connected with the telephone system, and the government could oblige the contractor to connect the line to other railways and tramways in the future. Five per cent of the net profit was to be paid annually to the government, who also had the right to cancel the agreement at any time, should the contractor not abide by its conditions, and the right to purchase the line after fifteen years for a sum equal to twenty times the average annual net profits of the previous three years, to a minimum of the cost of the works and a maximum of double. The contractor had to deposit ÂŁ500 with the government, and the government also inserted a clause to safeguard the monopoly of the City & Suburban Tramway within Johannesburg. Provision was made for arbitration in case of dispute. No doubt State Secretary Reitz felt that he had obtained a fair bargain for his government, but in fact the Boksburg tramway was not built. At the time, the government was constructing the Main Reef Road, and permission was granted to Scheuermann in December 1899 to lay his line along it. He had also applied to use electric traction, but this was turned down by the Executive Council. However, on December 29 the Public Works Department received a sharply-worded letter from the secretary of the Road Trust expressing the Trust's concern that tramway rights along the Main Reef Road were being granted without the consent of the mining companies. This, the Trust said, was contrary to an agreement it had made with the government in 1897. This was evidently too big an issue for the Public Works Department to handle on its own, and the correspondence, with a copy of the agreement, was .passed to the State Secretary. Secretary Reitz was furious, and wrote back that the government recognised no such agreement. Further correspondence ensued, but


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS Scheuermann had obviously had enough and he disappeared from view, leaving the government richer by ÂŁ500. In the ensuing wartime difficulties, the whole scheme was soon forgotten. 3. The Johannesburg-Albertskroon Tramway In 1898, the Volksraad decided that the Johannesburg brickworks situated in Fordsburg should be closed for public health reasons. A new brickfield was opened in Albertskroon, six miles away, and a concession was granted in February 1899 to J. B. Wolmanus of Pretoria for a 1,067 mm. gauge (3ft. 6in.) steam tramway for the carriage of passengers and goods from Albertskroon to Johannesburg via Auckland Bank, Vrededorp and Fordsburg. The inspiration was clearly Dutch rather than British; parts would be laid as a street tramway, but in other places it would run on its own right of way. The line was to be single track throughout, with passing loops, and the rails were to be strong enough to carry loaded goods wagons of the N.Z.A.S.M. The line was clearly to gain much of its traffic from the brickworks at Albertskroon and from the conveyance of coal from the N.Z.A.S.M. at Fordsburg to various mines. Many of the brick-workers lived in Johannesburg and travelled daily; for these, referred to in the contract as "poor brick-makers", a special day return fare of 1s 3d was to apply. Otherwise, there were to be two classes of travel for Europeans and one for natives, at the tariffs of the N.Z.A.S.M., though since the route would have been very indirect and would have included a tour of the yards of several gold mines, it is doubtful whether many passengers other than the poor brick-makers would have used it. The line was to be operated by a limited company under the supervision of the Railway Commissioner, and 10 per cent of the net receipts had to be placed in a reserve fund which the government insisted should be invested in its own securities. If a dividend of over 12 per cent were paid the tariffs would have to be reduced, and the government could take over the line in time of war or internal revolt or if the contractor failed to keep to the agreement. All measurements were given in metres, and the company was to conduct its business in Afrikaans. On February 25, 1899, two days after the concession was registered, it passed for ÂŁ6,000 to Kentish Moore, A.M.LC.E., a British civil engineer resident in Johannesburg, trading as the Express Syndicate Limited. He then came to London,


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS raised more capital, and returned to Johannesburg to begin the surveys. However, on September 28, 1899, the call of patriotism intervened and Moore and his staff left Johannesburg to join 1JheImpenial Light Horse at Pietermaritzburg. Moore himself was rejected by the military and returned to London, where he continued to plan the line and order rails and rolling stock. On returning to Johannesburg in August, 1900, he found that the military had used some of his plans in the building of sidings into the mines. Moore then met the commission set up by the British government to investigate concessions granted by the late Transvaal government. By this time, the company title had been changed to Witwatersrand Tramway Company Ltd., and it was backed by some important mining interests. Moore argued that the line was necessary, but either the concession was not renewed, or in the post war depression Moore began to have second thoughts. Perhaps it was just as well; his estimate of the line's financial results forecast an 8 per cent dividend in 1901 and 12 per cent in 19040 It would have been a pity if reality had been allowed to shatter these illusions. 4. The Boksburg Trolleybus On March 25, 1914, the town council of Boksburg, a mining community 16 miles east of Johannesburg, opened the first trolleybus system, in South Africa. Built by the Rail less Electric Traction Construction Company at a cost of ÂŁ26,000, it consisted of four miles of double-wire route from Boksburg (Commissioner Street) to Boksburg North and Vogelfontein, with single-wire branches to the Palace Theatre and the Vogelfontein power station of the Victoria Falls Power Company. Power from this source was fed to the line through Bruce Peebles rotary converters in the one substation, and the installation was supervised by R.E.T.'s engineer Mr. Jeffs and by the council's electrical engineer, Mr. Guildford, who acted as manager. There were six front-entrance 20-seat solid-tyred single-deck trolleybuses; the vehicles were run in at Leeds in 1913 prior to shipment. The system opened with a flourish, with a huge banner reading "Success to Boksburg Trackless Trams", but the depression in the coal-mining industry, ,coupled with the high power charges (2.85d per unit) made the operation hopelessly unprofitable, despite one-man working. Service was entirely suspended by 1918, and in the same year Johannesburg Municipal Tramways,


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS remembering perhaps the R.ET. company's advertisements proclaiming that their system employed only standard tramway overhead parts and fittings, bought the entire installation and used it to renew and extend the Johannesburg tramways. Road conditions may have played a part in the Boksburg abandonment, but the Rail less system itself was sound and practical; the R.E.T. system at Bloemfontein, installed in the same year as that at Boksburg, operated successfully with the original R.E.T. vehicles which served until replaced by Karrier motor buses in 1931. 5. The Germiston Trolleybus In August, 1914, the municipality of Germiston opened its own trolleybus system, from the Malvern (Jules Street) terminus of the Johannesburg city tramways, for a distance of 4.86 miles to the Victoria Lake. The depot was situated about half-way, on the Main Reef Road, and there were two level crossings with the South African Railways. The line had a single pair of overhead wires and was operated on the Cedes-StoIl system, the buses, or cars as they were usually called, exchanging trolleys at the depot. Operation of the system was no more successful in South Africa than in Britain, and the war made it difficult to obtain spare parts. Traffic was also disappointing, as the railways provided a through service into the city and, no doubt, a smoother ride. Receipts per car mile in 1915 were only 9.33d, against operating expenses of 13.66d ten vehicles were employed, all of them rear-entrance Cedes Stoll single-deckers on solid tyres; there was also one trailer and one tower wagon. Power was bought from the Victoria Falls Power Co. at 1d per unit, and the crew worked only an 8-hour day, considerably less than their British counterparts, at wages varying between 1s and 1s 11d per hour. The cost of installing the system was ÂŁ55,000, and the high costs and low receipts prevented any extension. The service was discontinued in 1918, and since then Germiston has concentrated on motoI1buses. Although not a Transport Department operation, there is still municipally owned rail transport today in Johannesburg, in the form of the 3ft. 6in. gauge Nancefield-PimviIle electric railway. This single track suburban railway was constructed to serve the Nancefield native area, and although owned by the city, it is operated and maintained by the South African Railways as part of their


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS extensive Rand electric suburban system was inaugurated in 1936 and now covers all lines radiating from Johannesburg. 7. Underground Railway proposals In 1970, approval was given to a feasibility study for an underground railway system for Johannesburg, to be carried out by London Transport in conjunction with Mott, Hay & Anderson. No announcement has yet been made of the likelihood of the system being built, but in January 1973, it was announced by a city councillor that the government had promised cash assistance for major metropolitan public transport schemes, such as this.


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS Chapter 11 THE TROLLEYBUSSES One of the earliest protagonists for municipally operated buses and trolleybuses was Prof. Dobson, originally Electrical Engineer and later Tramways Engineer. He advocated the use of buses for feeder services and suggested that an experiment should be made with trolleybuses. Furthermore, in 1912, he condemned several of the schemes for proposed tramways as being unlikely to be profitable. On Prof. Dobson's recommendation four petrol-electric and two petrol buses were purchased and, on March 17, 1913, operation was commenced over two routes, both feeder routes to tramways. One ran from Fordsburg Station via Central Avenue, Delvers Street, Du Toit Street, Schoeman Street, Marais Street and the Main Reef Road to Croesus married quarters-one of the mining villages-!While the other ran from Booysens Corner, via Kimberley Road, Mentz Street and Fourth Street to the western boundary of Booysens Reserve. Other routes to Regents Park, NewIands and Langlaagte were opened in 1914 and 1915 but the traffic on all routes was so disappointing that it was decided not to go ahead with the introduction of further buses. Instead, Regent's Park and Newlands were, rather paradoxically, connected to the city by tramways, By June 1915 all buses were withdrawn and it was not until 1927 that municipal bus services were resumed. Four Tilling-Stevens and two Thorneycroft vehicles had been used: two were converted to tower wagons and the remainder were sold in 1920. Similar buses ran in Durban and Pretoria. In the intervening period the private operators moved in. They were many in later days; records show that there were some twenty registered private operators, with at least half that number of pirate operators, all competing for the most lucrative traffic. The tactics resorted to in competition sometimes led to blows, and while many of the tricks used would have been familiar to the British reader, there were some local variations which showed great ingenuity and quick thinking. One of these was for the pirate driver to precede a 路legal bus by several minutes with a bundle of branches tied to the rear bumper. On Johannesburg's dusty, unpaved streets of that time, this created a thick dust storm which served a dual purpose. First of all prospective passengers, rather than wait in a cloud of dust for the official bus, would board the first one, while secondly the dust slowed down


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS the driver of the official bus. By the time he managed to overtake his unauthorised competitor the latter had a full busload and was quite content to leave the remainder to the lawful means of transport. The effect of all this private transport was to make considerable inroads into the J.M.T.'s revenue and in 1926 the decision was taken to commence operating buses to recapture the lost traffic. Bus operation was recommenced on April 1, 1927. The first service, with a length of 3t miles served Rosebank and Parktown North. After reaching Rosebank via Oxford Road it turned left at Sogot's Corner (Oxford Corner) and, ran parallel with the tramway to the Parktown North Stores (corner Cardigan Road/7th Avenue). Its opening dealt a heavy blow to the Parktown North-Rosebank tram extension. Rosebank passengers soon preferred to use the shorter bus route while it also drew a considerable number of Parktown North passengers away from the tram. At the same time a "Round the City" bus tour, operated on Sunday and holiday afternoons, was inaugurated. Later the same year a route to Harrow Road via First Street was opened which ran roughly along the route of the present Cyrildene bus and partly duplicated the Observatory and Judith Paarl trams. The following years many further routes were introduced, some as feeder-lines to tramways, others to serve new suburbs, but a considerable number of the latter ran through the City duplicating tramway services, which suffered accordingly. On some, where traffic had at no time been very heavy, it fell to such an extent that abandonment resulted, in later years. All the buses used at this stage were petrol-engine single-deckers. In 1930, a Guy double-deck trolleybus was demonstrated in Johannesburg during a tour of South African tramway operators. Unlike other cities, Johannesburg was not convinced of its usefulness as a replacement for the tram and no sales resulted at that time. The feature of a tramway to a certain suburb being duplicated by a bus service to a suburb beyond the tram terminus was as typical of Johannesburg as of many British cities. Such was the city's growth that tramway construction just could not


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS keep up with expansion; buses had to be called in to help out and stayed. The travelling public of Johannesburg has never taken kindly to a change of vehicles and the feeder service has never been a success, though some such services were operated for many years, as in the case of the Mayfair tram feeders. Furthermore, Johannesburg is so extensive that considerable extra mileage would have to be run between depots and feeder points by vehicles going into or coming off service. One group of bus services which superseded a tramway was the network of routes to the north-east. Here the early type of internal combustion engine caused the J.M.T. considerable concern as because of the altitude of the city neither the petrol nor diesel engines of the time were capable of coping efficiently with the ascent of Observatory Ridge. Admittedly, the buses usually made it, but with a lot of noise and fumes, and at a walking pace. The J.M.T. 'was not the only organisation to be concerned; the Orange Grove Ratepayers Association worked itself into a fine state of indignation over what it called crude oil buses. Whether the adjective applied to the buses or the oil or both is not clear. The Spencer Commission of 1934 recommended the introduction of trolleybuses on these routes to eliminate the trouble. During 1935 twenty-two trolleybuses were ordered. Construction was commenced the same year and by utilising the poles of the old tram-overhead to Norwood, which were still in situ, work proceeded at a good pace. Johannesburg's first trolleybus route, to Sydenham, was opened on August 26, 1936; this event being followed soon after by the opening of a further section to the former Norwood tram terminus. During 1938 a further branch was opened, along Louis Botha Avenue to Highlands North. The Rosebank bus was also replaced by trolleybus during 1938. For other services, double-deck motorbuses were purchased. The first batch to arrive included the last Karrier motorbuses to be built before tha t firm went over completely to trolleybus construction. After the first introduction of trolleybuses to Johannesburg it was decided that nhey were ideal for the city and as early as November 1936 voices went up for the conversion of further tram routes to trolleybus. Although recommended against by the Spencer Commission the J.M.T. decided that the Parktown and Melville


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS trams, when the track became due for renewal, would be replaced by trolleybuses 128 and during 1937 the purchase of equipment for this purpose was approved. Some of it was delivered during the following year and work began on the preliminary projects. When the outbreak of war stopped work and gave the tram a ten year respite, all the necessary poles had been planted, while the section from Kalk Bay Fisheries (corner of Jorissen/Bertha Streets) to Parkhurst had been wired. The British Government requisitioned the fifty-five buses under construction and these were put to work in London and other cities after their completion, although not until after special legislation made it possible for these extra-wide vehicles to work on the London streets. With their width of eight feet they were the widest public transport road vehicle to run in the British Commonwealth at that time. The overhead materials that the J.M.T. still had on hand were transferred to stock for use as replacements on existing tram and trolleybus routes. Introduction of municipally run buses had not stopped competition by private operators. This as a matter of fact increased yearly and to eliminate this, all the existing services catering for the European population of Johannesburg were municipalised during 1935. The J.M.T.’s fleet was thus enriched by a weird and wonderful collection of rolling stock, most of which was over-aged and underpowered and soon ended its career on the scrap heap. World War II left little scope for expansion and it was not until 1948 that the first part of the delayed north-western suburbs conversion scheme was completed by the opening of the Melville trolleybus route during June. Shortly before, an extension to Parkhurst from Oxford Road had been opened while during August the Greenside bus service went over to trolleybus. Trolleybuses replaced the Parktown North trams during October of that year and this brought the conversions to a temporary halt. Later further trolleybus routes were opened, all as replacement for tramways, although in the case of the southern suburbs this conversion only came after twenty years of bus operation.



Rolling Stock The first order for trolleybuses for Johannesburg called for 22 double-deck vehicles, consisting of 11 A.E.C. 661T chassis with English Electric equipment (Nos. 12-22) and 11 Sunbeam MF2s with 129 British Thomson-Houston regenerative equipment (Nos. 1-11). All were four-wheelers, with bodywork by Metropolitan-Cammell, seating 60 passengers and having standing room for 12. A front exit was provided for the lower saloon, but it was used only at city termini. The buses were eight feet wide. The total cost of the order was ÂŁ72,000 and the vehicles entered service in 1936. After the war they were renumbered 501-522 and. all were withdrawn between 1955 and 1958. For the Rosebank service, 8 additional vehicles of each type were delivered in 1938, Nos. 23-30 being by A.E.C. and 31-38 by Sunbeam. These were also renumbered in the 500s and were withdrawn between 1955 and 1960. On August 22, 1939, the council ordered 30 three-axle A.E.C. 664T chassis and 25 additional two-axle Sunbeams, at a total cost of ÂŁ175,000. Delivery of these was prevented by the outbreak of war and 18 A.E.C.s, with bodywork by Metro-Cammell, were ultimately diverted by the British Government to London Transport, along with 35 Leyland trolleybuses originally intended for Durban. The Johannesburg vehicles were placed in service in the Ilford area, as class SA3, and remained there until withdrawal in 1959. As buses with a width of eight feet were not then permitted to run in Britain, special permission had to be obtained for their operation from the Metropolitan Police. With their full-drop windows and tinted glass, these buses lent an exotic touch to the workaday world of Ilford. The remainder of the A.E.C. order was not built. When these vehicles were diverted to London in 1941, the Sunbeam trolleybus chassis had all been completed, but had not yet received their bodywork. They were all completed in 1942 with austerity-type bodies, being the only bodies of this type to have a width of eight feet. Five, with Weymann bodies, went to Nottingham Corporation (Nos. 447-451) and 10 identical trolleybuses were allocated to Bradford Corporation (Nos. 693-702). The other 10 chassis received Massey lowbridge bodies and went to St. Helens Corporation (Nos. 157-166).


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS In 1948, 60 B.U.T. 9641 T trolleybuses (Nos. 564-623) were delivered to replace the trams on the North-western services. These six-wheelers had equipment by English Electric. One bus was completed in Britain by Metropolitan-Cammell and was tested over the London Transport routes in the Hampton Court area before delivery. The bodywork for 44 others was shipped in sections to South Africa and assembled there by Bus Bodies (S.A.) Ltd. The remainder had bodies to Park Royal/B.M.S. design and were built in South Africa. In each case, the seating capacity was 71 and the official standing load 13. Nos. 616-623 were re-bodied by Bus Bodies in 1960 and their capacity increased to 73 + 19. In 1969, 6 buses (577/8/9, 588, 593 and 601) were altered for one-man operation. An additional staircase was provided at the front and platform doors were fitted at the rear. Some of the unconverted vehicles have now been withdrawn. Twenty-five four-wheel Sunbeam W trolleybuses were also delivered in 1948 (Nos. 539-563). These had 60-seater bodies by Bus Bodies and were all withdrawn between 1968 and 1970. Delivery of the second generation of Johannesburg trolleybuses began in 1958. First came 50 six-wheelers on B.U.T. 9642T chassis, with bodywork by Bus Bodies, seating 73 passengers (Nos. 624-673). These had equipment by English Electric. Nos. 624-648 were converted for one-man operation in 1969 and now have a capacity of 69 seated and 19 standing passengers. The successful operation of these vehicles has shown how the traditional design of bodywork can be altered for one-man working and that this need not be confined to rear-engine diesel buses. The final order comprised the largest double-deck trolleybuses ever built. Forty S7A chassis were originally ordered from Sunbeam in 1956, but 20 were in fact built in Italy by Alia-Romeo. All are 33ft. 6in. long and have bodywork by Bus Bodies, seating 85 passengers, with room for 22 standees. Electrical equipment is by British Thomson-Houston. The Sunbeams took the numbers 694-713 and the Alfa-Romeos 674-693; several of each type have now been withdrawn.


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS Chapter 12 A VISITOR'S GUIDE TO THE JOHANNESBURG TROLLEYBUS SYSTEM, 1973 (Contributed by Peter Haseldine) Hours of operation of European services are now limited and trolleybuses do not run after 18.15 on weekdays or 13.30 on Saturdays, and not at all on Sundays. Non-European services run daily until 21:00. These comprise services 60, 66, 67, 79 and are operated mainly by vehicles of the 624-673 batch which have been converted for one man operation. Service 60 starts in Loveday Street south of the City Hall and travels to Fordsburg depot along Commissioner Street (inwards along Market Street). Before reaching Fordsburg it crosses Main Reef Road, used by depot workings leaving Fordsburg, and shortly afterwards it passes under a motorway elevated above GochStreet. Goch Street has recently been wired and can be used as an ex-depot working alternative to the normal Diagonal Street and Pritchard Street routing used by all vehicles destined for 1Jheroutes to the north of the city and by those vehicles destined for the southern routes which are stabled at Fordsburg. After passing Fordsburg, the main European depot which is also visited by non~European vehicles for certain aspects of maintenance, Mayfair is soon reached along Central Avenue lined with its colourful Asian and Chinese shops. The Mayfair loop, terminus of a short-working shown as 60A, crosses the adjacent railway line to the north of the through route to Homestead Park. The 60A is operated at peak hours only, one-man vehicles of the batch 564-608 usually being employed. Diesel buses are used on the service for non-Europeans on 60A. Throughout the day, however, service 60 speeds a further half-mile along Central Avenue to its round-the-block terminus at Homestead Park. Returning to the city centre, services 66 and 67 are found starting from Pritchard Street and Loveday Street respectively at stands adjacent to the intersection of those two thoroughfares. The routes travel north to Braamfontein and, turning west, pass the Milner Park loop. This loop was originally used for extra journeys operated at times of shows in Milner Park but has fallen into disuse in recent


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS years. With no further complications the 66 and 67 continue to their appropriate termini at Triomf and Melville. Also starting in Loveday Street, although one block north, is service 79 which follows the 66 and 67 routing to Braamfontein, continues north along Jan Smuts Avenue and turns along the picturesque Lower Park Drive which borders Zoo Lake. Zoo Lake loop is the terminus of the short-working 79B but no vehicles on this service turn here because they continue to or from Parkhurst as private school buses. In Johannesburg all buses not on advertised public services display service number 98 and so this number is carried by these vehicles. A little further north there is a peak-hour short-working known as 79A which uses the terminus of service 1, abandoned in June 1972, at Parktown North. The wires of service 1 can still be seen leading to Parktown North from the east along 7th Avenue. Service 79 continues west from Parktown North and terminates at Parkhurst on a large one-way loop. The northern and eastern sides of this loop were constructed in March 1970; previously vehicles had made a double run along the present southern and western sides. Non-European services Services 2, 77 and 79A fall under this heading and all three start from the Non-European terminus in Fraser Street between Bree Street and Jeppe Street. Apart from the city terminus the 79A follows the same route as the European route 79A described above. Service 77 follows the 79A for part of the length of Jan Smuts Avenue and then turns into Loch Avenue for the scenic ride to Greenside. Half-way along this section the wires of the 78 to Parkview can be seen leaving the Greenside route along West Meath Road. This was a European service which was abandoned in late June 1972 at the same time as the withdrawal of European vehicles from service 77. Anyone wishing to photograph the Greenside route 'is advised to study the timetable as the service outside peak hours is Iimited to a few journeys. A cursory look through the timetable reveals service 2 to be the most frequent route, bus or trolleybus, operated by Johannesburg Transport Department. From the Non-European terminus the route is north by way of De Villiers Street, Klein Street, Victoria Avenue and Oxford Road to Dunkeld. Near Dunkeld, at Rosebank,


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS the wiring of former service 1 can be seen leading to Parktown North. The European service on the 2 was withdrawn at the same time as the abandonment of service 1 in June 1972. One of the reasons for the withdrawal of the European service on the Dunkeld route was that European trolleybuses were being delayed behind non-European trolleybuses which, because of heavier loading, used to take longer at stops. On the southbound wire at Englewood Drive there can be seen a lay-by wire which non-European vehicles used to allow delayed trolleybuses to overtake. A feature of the three non-European services is the provision of extra journeys on Thursday afternoons. These can best be described as "nanny workings" being provided mainly for nannies and other servants who are employed in the high-income houses which line all three routes and for whom Thursday afternoon is the traditional half-day holiday. Louis Botha route Services 10, 13 and 14 start in Kerk Street, travel to Plein Street via Joubert Street (in via Loveday Street) and from there turn north into the Bus Way which parallels Twist Street. As its name implies, the Bus Way is a private reservation for buses which helps to speed the many services which link the city with the densely populated Hillbrow district. Its very success proved, in fact, to be one of the reasons for the conversion from trolleybuses to diesel buses of service 18 (Hillbrow)-the conductor did not have enough time to collect all the fares in the rush hour after the introduction of the Bus Way. One-man operation was the solution to this problem and as no one-man trolleybuses were available, diesel buses were substituted in June 1972. Leaving the Bus Way the route ascends Edith Cavell Street to busy Hillbrow and continues past the old service 18 terminal loop in Goldreich and Caroline Streets. Turning into Clarendon Place, which continues into Louis Botha Avenue, the trolleybuses have an opportunity to show their superiority over diesel buses at an altitude of almost 6,000 feet. For almost three miles the trolleybuses have to stop only infrequently and can travel at high speeds in the fast lane of Louis Botha Avenue.


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS This trolleybus speedway ends in the Italian speaking suburb of Orange Grove where service 10 branches west from Louis Botha Avenue for Waverley terminus. This section traverses typical Johannesburg outer suburbia of low density bungalows sporting "Beware of the dog!" signs and advertisements for burglar alarm companies. Interest is provided by a short-working facility at Gardens. Journeys reversing here are designated 10A, there being two such journeys timetabled in the morning peak although diesel bus substitution is not uncommon. Waverley terminus has a feature of the southern routes in the form of a reverser. In this case the vehicles proceed forward, turning right through a right angle 'and then reverse turning left through a right angle into the loading barrier position. Returning to Orange Grove, services 13 and 14 continue a few hundred yards to Dunottar Street, the 13 proceeding further along the fast Louis Botha Avenue, now a dual-carriageway, to Highlands North, while the 14 turns east into Dunottar Street to travel to Sydenham along quiet suburban streets. Hillbrow route From Loveday Street services 19 and 20 travel to Edith Cavell Street using the same itinerary as the Louis Botha routes, except that on ex-city journeys service 19 uses Pritchard Street and service 20 uses President Street to reach Joubert Street. Some journeys between Loveday Street and the Bus Way are diverted from Plein Street to run in via Delvers and out via Troye. This deviation occurs mainly during peak hours to serve the commercial part, of the city. At the top of Edith Cavell Street the routes turn east into the heart of Hillbrow along Pretoria Road (inwards via Kotze Road). Wires can be seen joining these streets with Klein Street and these serve as evidence of former Non-European trolleybus workings on service 20. Almost as soon as the, centre of Hillbrow has been crossed the first short-working is encountered at Berea. Vehicles designated 20B turn here during the morning and evening peaks and on Saturday mornings. The peak hour frequency between Berea and the city bears witness to the population density of Hillbrow which is reputed to be one of the highest in the world.


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS After Berea loop the high-rise luxury flats of Hillbrow are left behind, for the more open suburban landscape of Bellevue. Bellevue, a mile away from Berea and a busy shopping, centre, serves not only as the junction for service 19 to turn north to Yeoville and for the 20 to continue to Bellevue East but also as a short-working for vehicles in the morning peak designated 20A. The termini at Bellevue East and Yeoville are uneventful except that it is worth noting that wiring exists from Yeoville to Louis Botha Avenue for emergency use. The Southern routes The services based on Van der Bijl Square running to the south of the city were the last to be opened and were operated mainly by vehicles from Trojan depot although between peaks trolleybuses returned to Fordsburg rather than Trojan. Vehicles from Fordsburg taking up service in Van der Bijl travelled past the square in Rissik Street and used Marshall Street to gain access from Eloff Street. From Van der Bijl Square the route travelled southwards for two miles along Eloff Street Extension, flanked by a motley collection of light industry, until the junction with La Rochelle Road, which carried services 44, 46 and 47, and Turffontein Road, which as well as carrying service 49 also had Trojan depot located a short distance south of the junction. To enable vehicles from the La Rochelle Road routes to reach Trojan depot, Marlborough Road was wired. One mile along La Rochelle Road from the junction with Turffontein Road routes 44, 46 and 47 split to run to South Hills, Rosettenville and Townsview respectively. These two latter routes were of little note except that the Townsview terminus was in the form of a reverser. Service 44 to South Hills had a short-working, designated 44B, which deviated two hundred yards from the main line to Rewlatch. Despite the quantity of wiring unique to service 44B, there were only two timetabled journeys, both in the morning peak. Beyond the Rewlatch spur, service 44 continued to South Hills offering fine views of the city and the gold mine waste heaps which serve as a reminder of the raison d'ĂŞtre of Johannesburg. The 49 to Forest Hill was of uninspiring scenic aspect but provided variety as the wiring for half a mile was held by elastic drop hangers. Standard fittings by the Ohio Brass Company and B.I.C.C. characterise the remainder of the overhead of the system. All the services to the southern suburbs ceased on June 30, 1973.


JOHANNESBURG TRAMWAYS Except for the one-man routes, vehicle allocation is somewhat elastic and there is much inter-working. However, 609-623 are Non-European vehicles and the Alfa Romeos were confined to the southern routes. The occasional Alfa Romeo appears on the Hillbrow routes in the peak hours, and some are now used on Non-European workings. Thus, above, is the Johannesburg trolleybus system as at October 1973. The future is uncertain, although it appears reasonable to expect that the system will be abandoned by 1980. Already some closures have taken place; diesel bus substitution is common on all routes and, unless you live in Southern Africa, Johannesburg is a long way to travel. Thus if you want to see the world's last British style trolleybus system in its almost-complete grandeur-go soon!


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