Even in the vilest weather passengers on buses can travel between Cambuslang and Blantyre in comparative comfort with little chance of catching pneumonia, but for passengers 100 years ago, it was a very different case!
For people especially in Winter it was a miserable experience being on a busy tram ‘caur’. During mid day journeys, men would often give up the shelter of the lower deck, being courteous in taking the upper uncovered deck and being exposed to winter weather.
However, for “rush hour” and miners it was a different case when there were no women on the caurs first thing in the morning. Getting to work at Gateside, Dechmont or Priory was a short trip for miners. Congregating at Cambuslang terminus at 6 o’clock in the morning, they did not form queues and the clamours sounds of a tram as it came clanking around the corner was the signal for them to advance en masse and take up position where they thought the caur would stop.
When it halted, the miners would storm aboard. To gain a place in the inside saloon was the primary aim of this ‘assault party’. The unlucky ones of course had to go upstairs and if it was raining or even snowing, the prospect of starting their shift in the mine with wet clothes was not particularly pleasant! (especially before the arrival of drying rooms and warm pit baths!)
The seats on the upper deck were of hard wood, slatted, reversible and downright uncomfortable. A protective knee high strip of sheet metal with a safety railing enclosed the sides, front and back of the deck. Midway along the passage separating the rows of seats was ‘the trolley’ which carried the overhead boom. The trolley was a constant source of imminent danger to any unwary passenger who may be tempted to leave his seat and stamp about the deck to keep warm or go into the aisle whilst the ‘caur’ was moving.
Indeed, in wet weather it was practically impossible for passengers on the upper deck to avoid being drenched. The pits are closed now. The caurs are gone. Those who remember those “far from fond” commutes also now gone, but the memory of those miserable journeys live on in these words…….
Pictured at Dalton is the Blantyre tram with a couple of men braving the winter weather on the top deck!
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