These two rather grainy images, taken from the Derby Telegraph, record an important date in the city’s public transport history. Jane Goddard reports.
A RECENT story, recalling the introduction of electric tramcars to the streets of Derby in 1904, proved of more than passing interest to reader Patricia Elliott.
For Mrs Elliott’s grandfather, William Spencer, was given the very special honour, some 30 years later, of driving the very last tramcar service on its final journey before they were replaced by a new mode of transport.
Mrs Elliott, of Mickleover, explained: “Seeing Mr Redfern’s photograph and article reminded me of an article my own family had discovered some time ago.
“It was about the last tramcar in Derby and was published on Tuesday, July 3, 1934. It reported that my maternal grandfather, William Spencer, was given the honour of taking charge of the last tramcar journey on its way back to the depot on Osmaston Road.
“He was accompanied by the Mayor of Derby, Alderman H Slaney.
“My mother, Hilda Brassinton, who is now 97, can still remember polishing the buttons and number 33 on William’s uniform before the big day.
“She also remembers that, along with her siblings, she would take it in turns to carry a fresh mashing can of tea for her father to the terminus at the junction of Kedleston Road and Duffield Road, or to the Burton Road/Chain Lane junction.
“My mother always believed that her father drove that last tramcar but we had no proof until we discovered the approximate date.
“We then searched the Derby Telegraph archives at the Local Studies Library on Iron Gate and, eventually, found the pictures and story.”
The story which appeared in the newspaper tells how Mr P Bancroft, general manager of the corporation’s passenger transport department, had selected long-standing driver Mr Spencer for the honour of taking charge of the last tramcar to be seen on the streets of Derby.
The article continues: “He drove it through the town yesterday on a ceremonial run.
“And, when near the depot, withdrew in favour of the mayor, who drove it into the yard.
“Mr Spencer began his career in the service of the old Tramways Company before the corporation acquired the service.
“He was a tip-lad to begin with, being in charge of the extra horse that helped to draw the cars up St Peter’s Street and Babington Lane.
“Then he became a conductor and, finally, a driver.
“He has driven every type of public transport vehicle – the horse-drawn and electric trams, petrol buses and now the trolley buses – enjoying the confidence of his employers and the respect of his colleagues.
“There was no need to introduce him to the mayor. His Worship told me they had been schoolfellows.”
Mrs Elliott would dearly like to trace a better copy of the photograph and wondered if any of our transport enthusiasts might have a copy of a similar photograph or the original newspaper.
If you can help, please contact Bygones.