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DISTRICT MEETING AT ROCHDALE,

March 16, 1883,

Held in the Town Hall, Rochdale,
Mr. R. VAWSER, Vice President, in the Chair.

THE MANCHESTER, BURY, AND ROCHDALE

TRAMWAYS.

By R. VAWSER, M. INST, C.E.

THESE tramways form a means of communication between several populous districts in the neighbourhood of Manchester, and unite with the Manchester tramway system at the several places shown on the Plan; they also form a complete system in themselves, and when complete will have a greater mileage than any other tramway system in the country: upwards of 44 miles of tramways are already authorised by Act of Parliament, and a further length of 11 miles is now before Parliament, and I expect this will be further increased during next session of Parliament.

A portion of the tramway between Manchester and Bury was opened for public traffic on the 12th March last, and in several other parts of the system the works are in progress, and very nearly completed. The mode of construction for the greater part of the road is shown upon the drawing before you. It consists of the Gowan rail, which was first used on a large scale in Manchester, where it has been a very great success.

The rails weigh 93 lb. to the lineal yard, are 7 inches wide at the base and 3 inches on the top, and are 7 inches deep, thus forming a solid girder. They are of solid steel, and rest direct on a concrete bed, differing in that respect from the old form of tramway rails, which required support by timber or cast-iron sleepers.

About one-half of the line already opened, between Manchester and Bury, has been laid with Barker's rail ; but it is intended to continue the use of the Gowan or girder rail throughout the remainder of the system.

This tramway line has been specially designed for steam traction, and it was considered advisable to use the strongest and best rail it was possible to get. These rails are very expensive and difficult to roll, as the groove on the top of the rail cannot be accurately formed in the rolling mill, but is cut out after the rails are partially formed in the mill.* The rails are fished with steel fish-plates, and when fixed are likewise secured by wrought-iron tie-rods placed 8 feet apart, as you will see upon the drawings. It is very important to keep the rails strictly to gauge, and the tie-rods should be fixed as near the top of the rails as possible, because you then get the greatest good from them, and they have greater power to prevent the rails moving; but the paving setts make it very difficult to secure the rods near the top, and we have secured them to the base of the rail. The rails are laid upon a foundation of Portland cement, composed of seven parts of broken stone, sand, and gravel, to one part of Portland cement. The macadam of the roads mixed with cement, in the above proportions, makes very good concrete. The paving is granite, and the setts are placed as nearly as possible level with the surface of the rails. In Rochdale the joints of the setts are filled with pebbles, stones, and coarse gravel, and run in with asphalte, composed of pitch and mineral oil boiled together ; but as these tram-lines pass through the districts of a great many local authorities, the mode of construction varies slightly in matters of detail

, but substantially it is as you see it upon the drawing, and as I have described it. I am sorry to say the engines and cars are not here at present, or I should have been very glad to have shown you them. We have adopted the Wilkinson type of engine, which has done very good work at Wigan for some time, and has been extensively and thoroughly tested on other tram-roads. The construction of tramway engines has become a speciality, and some of the largest firms in the country are devoting their attention to them. Messrs. Beyer, Peacock, and Co., of Manchester, are constructing a large number of the Wilkinson engines for this line. I will not trouble you with a detailed description of them to-day, but a short notice of them shall be inserted in the · Proceedings of the Association for your further information.

This rail cost from 91. to 101. a ton, but the cost varies with the market price of steel.

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DISCUSSION.

Mr. FOWLER : There is no doubt this (Gowan’s) rail is a great advance upon other tram systems, inasmuch as it is stronger, and perhaps provides a better foundation for the setts abutting upon the rail. But it occurred to me while listening to your remarks, that paying from 91. to 101. a ton for the rails must necessitate a very large rental, or, I will say, increase the rental considerably more than an ordinary rolled rail. An ordinary rolled rail, without the difficulties and contingencies you have described, would cost 61. 108. at the present market price. Compared with that, 91. to 101. a ton for rails was a very large sum indeed. Tramway directors will look at the expense, and perhaps the local authorities will not get the same amount of interest for the capital they have expended as they would if they had had a rolled rail, as against this expensive rail. Of course if you introduce steam you must have something very substantial, and on a good foundation. But there are other systems which I have seen, which commend themselves to my mind quite as much as this, and they can be carried out at a much less cost. It amounts to this, the cost of the tramways, having regard to efficiency of course, is the thing municipal bodies will look to, and by that they will calculate the probability of gaining a good interest for the money they have expended. In Salford, for instance, they are using an iron rail. If I had to do the work again I would make them of steel, but not of an expensive pattern. Salford obtained ten per cent. on the cost of construction. Now, I think, we can all imagine that, if in Salford there had been an expensive rail like this, the Corporation would not have obtained ten per cent. on the cost of construction. That ten per cent. is a very important source of income to the Corporation. One would look forward to see what amount of percentage the authorities who had undertaken this work would get-five, six, or seven. I question whether they will get ten. There is the traffic to look to, and the thickly populated district through which they pass, but I think it is well to bear in mind the percentage you will get upon the money laid down in an undertaking of this sort.

Mr. McCALLUM: When with this section of rail (Gowan's) the wearing part is worn away, you have the whole of a girder of the expensive section spoken of by Mr. Fowler also spoiled or

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