Buses & Trams

The E.C.C. (originally the Electric Construction Corporation Limited) was formed in 1889 by the amalgamation of Elwell-Parker Limited, the Elecrical Power Storage Company Limited, and the Railway Electrical Contractors Limited.  The new concern was incorporated on 7th June, 1889, and a new factory costing £10,000 was built on a 24.5 acre site, previously acquired by Elwell-Parker Limited at Bushbury. When building work was complete, the staff and machinery from the Elwell-Parker factory at Commercial Road, Wolverhampton were moved to the new site.

Thomas Parker from Elwell-Parker Limited became Works Manager, and J. E. H. Gordon, who was well known for his work on connection with the early electric lighting at Paddington Station became the corporation's engineer. Things got off to an excellent start under the chairmanship of Sir Henry Mance, with the works operating at full capacity and orders flooding-in.

The only existing photograph of one of the E.C.C.'s 26 seater omnibuses. Courtesy of the late Jim Boulton.
The corporation's first vehicle project was a battery-powered tramway system built for Birmingham Tramways, to update the existing steam operated system. This followed the successful trial in 1888 of an Elwell-Parker prototype battery-powered tram, which ran on their existing system, and out-performed the steam trams.

Unfortunately the lead-acid batteries were placed under the passenger's seats, and a portion of the gross profit was absorbed in the settlement of claims from passengers, whose clothing had been splashed by acid.

In 1891, two E.C.C. 26-seater omnibuses began running in London, from Charing Cross to Victoria Station. They had iron-tyred, wooden wheels, and were powered by 72 lead-acid batteries. Each of the two axles was chain-driven, by its own large electric motor.

The omnibuses were designed by W. C. Bersey, and weighed around 3.5 tons. There was room for twelve people inside and 14 on top. Thomas Parker's son, Thomas Hugh Parker assisted in the construction of the buses.

Several single-decker buses were also built for the London Electric Omnibus Company, which were battery powered, had steering and hydraulic brakes on all four wheels, and seated 14 people.

A battery-powered 14 seater bus, with 4 wheel steering. 

E.C.C. also developed an overhead-wire, tram system, which was put to use in 1893 when the company electrified the South Staffordshire Tramways, and a little while later the Hartlepool tramway. Thomas Parker laid-down a section of tram-line at the works, which he hoped would be largely copied in London for direct tram-driving.
The following description of the tramway is from the Railway Engineer, volume 14, number 1, January, 1893:

The South Staffordshire Tramways have an aggregate length of about 23 miles. They connect Darlaston, Wednesbury, West Bromwich, Handsworth, Great Bridge, Dudley Port, Dudley, Walsall, and Bloxwich with each other, and last year 4,000,000 passengers were carried.

About nine miles-viz., from Darlaston and Wednesbury to the Pleck, thence to Walsall Bridge, where the line again separates, one branch going to Bloxwich and the other to Lichfield Road - has been fitted to work by electricity upon the over-trolley wire system.

The installation has been carried out entirely by the Electric Construction Corporation of Wolverhampton. The sub-contractors for the cars were the Lancaster Carriage and Wagon Co., and Brown, Marshalls & Co., for the stationary engines and boilers of 150h.p. Messrs. Musgrave & Son, of Bolton, and the posts to carry the overhead wire were divided between Messrs. James Russell & Sons and Messrs. John Russell & Co.

The motors are of the Elwell-Parker type. The posts are placed at the side of the road, and the bracket arms carrying the trolley wire stretch out over the road 7 to 10ft., but give a clear height of 21 ft. By a kind of universal joint the collector is allowed a variation of several feet, so that it is not necessary for the trolley wire to be directly over the middle of the line.

A South Staffordshire Tramways tram.

The South Staffordshire Tramways depot, and company headquarters was situated in Corns Street, off Birmingham Street, Darlaston.

The installation was carried out by E.C.C., and all of the electrical equipment was designed by the company's chief design engineer Thomas Parker.

The tram motors were of the Elwell-Parker type and built by E.C.C.

The tramway had an electricity generating station at the Pleck, on Walsall Road, just outside Darlaston, with electrical generating equipment designed by Thomas Parker.

Another South Staffordshire Tramways tram.

The South Staffordshire Tramways electricity generating station..

The trams, in their oak brown and cream livery, became a familiar sight around Walsall and Darlaston, and were a great success. In the first year around 4 million passengers were carried.

The trams continued in use until the South Staffordshire Tramways Company Limited ceased to operate in 1924.

ECC also produced other trams including a 52 passenger tramcar for the Bournemouth Tram Depot.

An E.C.C. accumulator locomotive.

The new company found itself in deep trouble and was voluntarily wound up in July, 1893. It seems that there was a lot of dissent amongst the Board of Directors, one of whom later was convicted of fraud. The company was reconstructed as the Electric Construction Company Limited. Sir Daniel Cooper became Chairman, and
Mr. P. E. Beachcroft, J. W. Barclay and J. Irvine Courtenay joined the Board. The Company Secretary was Mr. James Gray and Mr. Emile Garcke joined the Board to be responsible for the reconstruction of the commercial side of the business.

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