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Title: Lines of class distinction : an economic and social history of the British Tramcar
Author: Ochojna, A. D.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2679 0565
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1974
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The tramcar has played a significant role in the de'velopment of Britain's towns and cities. Although it mightseem obvious that transport provision and an extending housing frontier must be closely linked components of any urban growth model it is necessary to look behind the bald statistics of housebuilding and transport patronage for a meaningful appreciation of their interdependence: 'Por this reason the thesis is concerned with four aspects of historical research, namely, technological innovation in the urban transport industry (the horse, then electric, tramcar and the petrol, then diesel, bus), urban growth, political choice, and personalities. The timing and speed of technological innovation in the British urban context can be explained in terms of the self-interested motivations of several major. tramway promoters and the way in which they, and astute local political leaders, assessed the preSSUBes of demand for a better living environment. Starting in the post Napoleonic War years, this desire for suburban living permeated down through urban society. Suburbia, however, requires sev~ral attributes of its inhabitants - in the first instance sufficient income and time to spend on daily commuting. This fact alone explains the rise of the well-to-do omnibus suburbs of the 1840's and 1850's, but at least one other factor must be taken . . account of in later transport advances. Tramcars ran on -iitracks laid into the streets and the upkeep of these streets was one of the major responsibilities of local authorities. The first wave of tramw!1Y companies sought the. right to· use and maintain a section of the·public roadway for private gain and the Parliament of 1870 saw fit to grant councils the right to veto any tramway schenltu; in their area as a means of safeguarding the public interest and their own jurisdiction over public thoroughfares. This meant that in the tramway era of 1860 to 1930 any social group's ability to realise out-of-townl!ving depended not only on the range of its disposable income and tinte budgets but also on the degree to :.which it could influence and manipulate the local political process to approve new tra~~ay routes and extensions. These three preconditions for suburban living made the tramcar an essentially middle class form of transport which would only decay when the middle classes withdrew their patronage for it in the streets and their allegiance to it in the council chamber. The rise in car ownership in the 1930's witnessed .just this phenomenon and the tramcar began its disappearance from the urban scene, not because it had become an inefficient mass mover. but because its fixed lIne of motion made it incompatible with the flexible traffic flow of the private motor car. Tramways were introduced into 'Britain in 1860 and failed because the urban political mechanism was controlled by private carriage owners who were inconvenienced considerably ~·iiiby the tracks of these early tramcars. A broadening affluence and the extensions of voting power produced a similar private modo ownership in the town councils of the 1930's, and again, the tramcar was rejected
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available