Grantham´s Steam Car for Tramways by John Grantham, Watson and Hazel, 1874 [ebook]


Grantham´s Steam Car for Tramways by John Grantham, Watson and Hazel, 1874. (Wantage Tramway.)

Pamphlet, card covers, 9”x 5”, pp15, 13 illustrations.


John Grantham (1808-1874), on leaving school assisted his father (also called John) who was employed by John Rennie on various civil engineering projects in Ireland. While there, Grantham senior introduced steam navigation to the country, with vessels operating on the Shannon.

On returning to England, the son was employed by Mather, Dixon & Co. of Liverpool, eventually becoming a partner. When that firm closed in 1843, Grantham junior began practice as a Naval Architect, being involved with the design of several iron sailing and steam ships, including Antelope, Empress Eugenie and Pacific. Granthammoved to London in 1859, and soon after, published the first edition of his classic work Iron Shipbuilding.

In 1860 he became Engineer to the Buenos Ares Northern Railway in Argentina. In 1863, he created the first tramway in Copenhagen, Denmark.

In 1872 he designed this steam tramcar, a four-wheel double-deck vehicle with two vertical boilers in the centre. The boilers were of the Field type and each was 18 inches diameter and 4 ft 4 in high. The engine, placed under the floor, had two cylinders, each 4″ diameter and 10″ stroke. These drove a single pair of driving wheels, 30″ diameter. The car could be driven from either end. The car was built in 1873 by the Oldbury Carriage and Wagon Company and the steam machinery was supplied by the fire appliance manufacturers, Merryweather & Sons of Greeenwich.

The car was tried out in London, at West Brompton and in Vauxhall Bridge Road, but it was apparently not a great success. There is a suggestion that it frequently ran short if steam and Edward Woods modified it, by fitting a single Shand Mason boiler in place of the twin Merryweather boilers.

It was then used on the Wantage Tramway from about 1876 to 1881. This was a two-mile road-side tramway of a type rare in Britain but more common in the Low Countries. It carried passengers and freight between theOxfordshire town of Wantage and Wantage Road Station on the Great Western Main Line. Formed in 1873 to link Wantage Road station with a terminus at Mill Street in the town. the line was cheaply built, parallel to what was then a Turnpike, and now the A338 . The tramway closed to passengers in 1925 and to goods traffic in 1945, by which time it was little more than a long siding serving Wantage Gas Works.



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