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Swansea & Mumbles Tramcar, their official name and designation.





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#1 firstgreatwestern

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 10:07

Hello RmWeb

Apologies if this should be in in the Tramway Section, but I felt that the question forum was for everything and the Mumbles Railway has always been considered a light railway, rather than a fully fledged tramway.

In the late 1920s, the legendary Swansea & Mumbles Railway modernised their fleet. A fleet of 11 tramcars (later 13) were ordered from the Brush Electrical Engineering Company of Loughborough to replace the aging steam locomotives. A resounding success, these tramcars could operate as coupled pairs and were the largest of their type in Britain. Originally painted in a cream and brown livery, a few years later around 1935 they were repainted into the now famous dark red.

My question is, what was their official name and designation? In every single book or video I have read or watched, they are given generic names such as "trams" "trains" or more affectionately "the big red trains" or "The Mumbles Train." Other tramcars produced by Brush were given a model name, such as the Blackpool Tramway's Brush Railcoach. As they were built by a large company specialising in railways, they must have been given some sort of name.

I have a few ideas. Perhaps the trams were called the "Brush Piermaster" in relation to their duties serving Mumbles Pier, or maybe they were called the "Swansea Bay Dreadnought" as they were so luxurious and grand. But these two names are just guesswork. I do believe there is a real answer, and their official name faded into obscurity. I hope someone could help.

Best Regards

FGW
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#2 The Johnster

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 13:26

I always called them Mumbles trams, which is no help at all, but you/ve piqued my interest and I'll be following this thread to see if anyone does know an answer.

 

As for The Mumbles, it is the subject of a tall tale of the sort that you really want to be true but is too good to be, told to me many years ago by a Landore engine driver.  According to this character, the original Welsh name for the place was 'Y Bronydd', the breasts, which makes sense given the view from across the bay, and that when the old fishing village became a place of desirable residence for 'nice' people in the later 19th century, when table legs were covered lest they cause offence, those who understood Welsh could not bring themselves to utter the naughty words, not in polite company anyway, and mumbled.

 

The reason that I don't believe this is Dylan Thomas; it's exactly the sort of psuedo-respectability and petty snobbery from his home town that attracted his ridicule and would hardly have escaped his attention, the perfect story to entertain and mildly shock his literary friends in London bars.


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#3 Steamport Southport

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 22:37

As usual Wiki is your friend.

 

Probably Latin in origin.

 

Another possible source of the name is from the word Mamucium which is generally thought to represent a Latinisation of an original Brythonic name, either from mamm- ("breast", in reference to a "breast-like hill") or from mamma ("mother", in reference to a local river goddess). 

 

 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mumbles

 

Manchester has a similar origin. Which translates to something like Fort On A Breast.  :jester:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mamucium

 

 

 

Jason


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#4 Fat Controller

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 23:50

I actually rode on the Mumbles Railway, not long before it closed; I'd have been four or five. I don't remember ever hearing a route, or otherwise specific, name for them; it was the Mumbles Railway (never tramway). Damn shame it shut, due to the Slow, Wicked and Terrible bus company taking it over.

I'd heard explanations of the name of the Mumbles; always breast-derived, from the same route that gives us 'mammals' . 


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#5 The Johnster

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Posted 15 September 2018 - 00:01

Maybe the old Landore driver was on the right track after all.


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#6 Enterprisingwestern

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Posted 15 September 2018 - 07:14

It's a shame the Railway went tits up!

 

Mike.


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#7 Legend

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Posted 15 September 2018 - 08:21

I looked it up in my bible to things Tramway “Trams in colour since 1945” by J Joyce and I’m afraid they are just referred to as Swansea and Mumbles Railway Cars . At the time of getting the book back in 1974 they were of little significance to me . Ironically 44 years later I’m regularly in Swansea and have visited the Mumbles twice .interesting trying to figure out the route and if there’s anything left. It would have been great to see these large tramcars running along the prom. Would have been quite a tourists draw now although I dare say they were regarded as old fashioned in 1960 when it shut. Hadn’t realised until I looked it up that the cars only had doors on the landward side . Also first use of the dead mans handle .

I think there is a tram or light railway bookazine around at the moment that has the Swansea and Mumbles in it . Can’t remember exact name but it’s by Key publications. It might be of interest to you.

Edited by Legend, 15 September 2018 - 08:22 .

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#8 rka

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Posted 15 September 2018 - 08:30

Until recently I worked at mumbles pier and the family who owned it were against the closure at the time, they told me that when the head of the company went to the house of Lords to complain about the closure, he had to stand in the chamber making his case, whilst the Lords had their backs to him!
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#9 Fat Controller

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Posted 15 September 2018 - 09:09

I looked it up in my bible to things Tramway “Trams in colour since 1945” by J Joyce and I’m afraid they are just referred to as Swansea and Mumbles Railway Cars . At the time of getting the book back in 1974 they were of little significance to me . Ironically 44 years later I’m regularly in Swansea and have visited the Mumbles twice .interesting trying to figure out the route and if there’s anything left. It would have been great to see these large tramcars running along the prom. Would have been quite a tourists draw now although I dare say they were regarded as old fashioned in 1960 when it shut. Hadn’t realised until I looked it up that the cars only had doors on the landward side . Also first use of the dead mans handle .

I think there is a tram or light railway bookazine around at the moment that has the Swansea and Mumbles in it . Can’t remember exact name but it’s by Key publications. It might be of interest to you.

More than a tourist attraction, it would be very useful in removing some of the cars using Mumbles Road, which seems to be blocked solid during busy periods, especially as ran on reserved track for most of its length. 

Imagine if the route was reinstated from the original terminus alongside Victoria towards Morristion and Port Tennant, and a branch was opened up the Clyne Valley, on the old Llanelly Railway route as well...It would be the beginnings of a useful urban network for Swansea Bay.


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#10 Gordon A

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Posted 15 September 2018 - 09:30

Have you tried asking Brush if their business records from the 1920s are available for research purposes?

 

Gordon A


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#11 Steamport Southport

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Posted 15 September 2018 - 11:32

There are quite a few videos on YouTube.

 

https://www.youtube....h?v=Yi4i20xVNrE

 

https://www.youtube....h?v=5jDBgM0FOYo

 

 

 

Jason


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#12 rka

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Posted 15 September 2018 - 11:49

More than a tourist attraction, it would be very useful in removing some of the cars using Mumbles Road, which seems to be blocked solid during busy periods, especially as ran on reserved track for most of its length.
Imagine if the route was reinstated from the original terminus alongside Victoria towards Morristion and Port Tennant, and a branch was opened up the Clyne Valley, on the old Llanelly Railway route as well...It would be the beginnings of a useful urban network for Swansea Bay.


I believe there has been some kind of proposal using this scheme, with a new stretch of line from Swansea to Port Talbot, bypassing neath.
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#13 firstgreatwestern

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Posted 21 September 2018 - 08:25

Apologies for the late reply, sometimes real life leaves no time for railway modelling or research!

Thank you to everyone who commented with their ideas and advice. It's still a mystery it seems. There's only one possible theory . Because they were such a small fleet with a specialised purpose, nobody ever thought of giving them an official name. To me, the semi-official name would be the "Swansea & Mumbles Tramcar."

Gordon A: I will try to contact Brush to see if they have any further information.

Maybe I am reading too much into this. (I research the Mumbles Railway quite frequently) but it would be very exciting to make a new discovery about a long lost yet still beloved railway system.

FGW

Edited by firstgreatwestern, 21 September 2018 - 08:26 .

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#14 stewartingram

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Posted 21 September 2018 - 10:04

Weren't most tramcars "classed" as a type by the operators (or enthusiasts)? In the older days, some makers had a simple name such as "Standard", but even that was changed in detail for different buyers. Today, Blackpool has recently had its "Flexity" trams, which again are in the same category as a "standard" production.

 

Stewart


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#15 BernardTPM

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Posted 21 September 2018 - 10:27

I have a copy of the commemorative brochure produced in 1960 when the line closed and it refers to them simply as 'Electric Railcars' of tramway-type construction.



#16 AMJ

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Posted 21 September 2018 - 14:40

The last complete Mumbles cat was used A's a passenger car hauled by a locomotive when the Middleton was first preserved.

A front end survives in and south Wales museum.