Bexley Urban District Council Tramways, Car 1 with oil headlamp

This postcard was published by T. Jenkins of Bexleyheath around 1903, showing the Market Place, Bexleyheath with Bexley car 1 in its original condition. Our copy was posted in 1907. T. Jenkins produced many cards in his own area, a number of which show tramcars.

Headlamp Bexley Urban District Council Tramways have previously been described in connection with a Postcard of another tram in the Market Place, q.v.. Tram 1 in our postcard is one from the initial 1903 batch of twelve cars, 1-12, from the Electric Tramway and Carriage Works Ltd. of Preston. They seated 22 on the lower deck on longitudinal bench seats and 30 on the upper deck on reversible transverse seats. They had 6 ft. wheelbase Brush Type A 4-wheel trucks each with two Dick Kerr 25A motors and Dick Kerr DB1-C controllers.

But the most notable feature of these trams as built, and the reason we have selected this card, was the huge oil headlamp (right). As they were normally fitted at dusk, they only rarely appear in photographs. These were copper clad and had parabolic reflectors. They were fitted on hooks to the dash of the tram at the leading end of the car. There were also oil bulkhead lanterns which showed red in the rear direction. It was stated that the reason for an oil headlamp was to provide illumination even if the power failed. An odd reason as if the power failed, the tram would not be going anywhere. This must have become apparent as after a few years they were replaced by conventional electric headlights mounted higher on the dash plate, with the car fleet number painted below.

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