History of Wallasey Tramways

Wallasey Electric Tramways


Part One

Wallasey Urban District Council had decided in 1896 to introduce municipally-operated electric tramways and had instructed their District Engineer and Surveyor, W. H Travers, to draw up plans. He recommended a system that would provide three different routes linking Seacombe Ferry to New Brighton (via Seabank Road, via Rake Lane, and via Seaview Road and Warren Drive). These were approved by the Council's newly-formed Tramways Committee at its first meeting on 12 May 1898, and application was subsequently made to Parliament. They were authorised in the Wallasey Tramways and Improvements Act 1899, but owing to stiff resistance from the United company the Council did not take over the horse tramways until midnight on 30 March 1901.

The 1899 Act authorised 8.5 miles of standard gauge tramways. corresponding exactly with the initial system opened in 1902. The double track sections (mainly passing loops) totalled just under two miles, the rest being single track (mainly used in both directions) but with one-way working in separate streets approaching the two termins. Most of the passing places were of two-car length (88 yards). The depot was to be built on land off Seaview Road adjacent to the Council's electricity generating station, with separate two-storey administrative offices fronting on to Seaview Road. The estimated cost was £72,821 including track at £2,189 per mile, paving at £2,229 per mile, £9,000 for cars and £5,129 for the depot.

The Tramways Committee, having appointed sub-committees to deal with specific issues, decided to adopt standard gauge (4ft 8½in) and overhead current collection. Visits were made to inspect tramways at Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Halifax and Hull and to the Preston works of the Electric Railway and Tramway Carriage Works Ltd. (ER&TCW). The initial requirements was 20 trams and the Committee considered the following tenders:

Electric Railway & Tramway Carriage Works Ltd.
£11,800 without air brakes or £12,700 with air brakes
British Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Co.
£11,940 plus £1,000 for air brakes
Brush Electrical Engineering Company
£13,200 without air brakes
Robert W. Blackwell & Co. Ltd.
£13,925 with air brakes

The committee accepted the first tender, without air brakes, as the Board of Trade had meanwhile ruled that despite grades of 1 in 15 and 1 in 16 the cars would need neither air nor slipper brakes.

During the legal battle with the Company, work had begun on the future Seabank Road line. The first rail of the new system was laid in King Street on 24 June 1901 by W. G. Ellery, new Chairman of the Council. The track bed was excavated, and buildings demolished at the corner of Seabank Road and Trafalgar Road to accommodate an S-shaped length of double track. The Council used direct labour, and the men completed a mile of single track per month.

Robert Roughley GreeneOn 20 February 1901, Major (later Lt.Col) Robert Roughley Greene, aged 48, was appointed Tramway Manager, at a salary of £250 per year. He had been accountant with the Dock Board, and was general secretary of the LIverpool Dispensaries. He came from a local family and, having been chairman of the UDC in 1897, was fully conversant with municipal procedure. He also commanded the New Brighton company of the 1st Cheshire and Carnarvonshire Artillery volunteers, a predecessor of the Territorial Army.

As owners of the tracks used by the horse trams, the Council had already relaid much of the horse car route between 1897 and 1898 with heavier rail suitable for electric cars, but all passing loops, junctions, and sections not scheduled for electrification had been left untouched, with the result that repairs had to be carried out in May 1901. Meanwhile, new tracks were laid to form the anti-clockwise "horse-shoe" or "Balloon" loops outside New Brighton ferry, as well as the connecting length between Molyneux Drive and the horse tram terminus at Field Road which was completed by late September 1901. Work began on 16 August on the line between St. Paul's Church, Seacombe and the Falkland Road/Liscard Road corner which took two months and involved a new street, Mainwaring Road, directly linking Lloyd's Corner and Liscard Road.

The Falkland Road horse car line was closed from 9 September 1901 and trams used Church Street in both directions; this allowed new track to be laid in the very narrow part of Liscard Road between Falkland Road and Church street. The successive diversions of the horse cars between this point and Seacombe Ferry in the last weeks of 1901 included a horse car service along the electric tracks from Seacombe to Molyneux Drive via Seabank Road which commenced on 1 December 1901, permitting work to begin on the renewal of loops and pointwork along part of the original horse tramway between Church Street and Field Road, with major road widening in Liscard Village and Rake Lane. When this work was complete, the horse trams reverted to their original route and the construction teams joined those already at work on the Seaview Road portion of the Warren Drive route.

Except for the track laid by R. W. Blackwell & Co Ltd in the car sheds and along the depot approach road, all other track-laying was under the supervision of Council engineer W. H. Travers and his two assistants, Howdle and Jackson. Laid on a concrete bed 6in thick, the rails 7 in deep with a 1⅛ in groove weighed 98lb/yd and were supplied in 60ft lengths by Barrow Haematite Steel Co Ltd, costing £7 7s. 6d per ton, with 37lb soleplates and 24-inch six-hole fishplates. Askham Bros. and Wilson Ltd. supplied the points and crossings, tie-bars, fishbolts, drain boxes and Dawson's patent drain rail, the points being 8ft 6in long and the crossings being of crucible cast steel. Special work was pre-assembled to specification on a concrete platform in the Council's yard in Mill Lane. Anchors were placed under rails on the steeper gradients, the most severe being the 1 in 15 out of New Brighton terminus and for a 20 yard stretch of Rowson Street. Transition curves were employed; the sharpest had a radius of 40ft in the centre of the curve. Brown's rail bonds were used, and flexible "Crown" cross bonds were installed at all points and crossings and at 100ft intervals on plain track. The paving used was 4in to 6in granite setts, except for Allcott's 5in hardwood blocks on the most select stretch of Seabank Road.

The feeder cables (11 miles) supplied by the British Insulated Wire Co. Ltd. were laid and joined by the Council's staff, in single earthenware troughs filled with bitumen. The overhead equipment was supplied and installed by R. W. Blackwell & Co. Ltd., using 400 poles bought from the British Mannesmann company. the standard poles tapered in three sections from 7in to 5¼in outside diameter, but heavy poles of 8in to 6in diameter were used for pull-offs at curves; the bases were of cast iron with a neat scroll and the Tramways monogram (WCT) artistically entwined. Span wire construction, side poles with bracket arms elsewhere; the bracket arms varied in length from 10ft 6in to 18ft 6in included ornamental scrollwork and rosettes to take arc lamps if required. The trolley wire of 3/0 gauge hard drawn copper was hung 21ft above road level. The overhead included guard wires of 7/16in galvanised steel, bonded to the poles and rails at every fifth pole. Telephone wires linking the depot with Seacombe and New Brighton were carried on insulators fixed to the bracket arms. Cast iron rectangular section boxes bearing the Council monogram contained switches and fuses for the feeders and the overhead lines.

The first of the 20 new electric cars were delivered complete at Wallasey Station in mid-January 1902, and were dragged along Grove Road and Hose Side Road by teams of horses; the wheels gouging grooves in the surface. All subsequent deliveries were to Liscard & Poulton station. At the end of February it was announced that the Seabank Road and Rake Lane routes would open in mid-March, with Warren Drive to follow later on. On Saturday 8 March a tour of inspection was held for Council Officials and representatives of the construction firms. Driver training was now in progress, some men having previous experience at Birkenhead or Liverpool, others being Irish labourers formerly employed in the tracklaying gangs.

The Board of trade inspection took place on Friday 14 March 1902, the inspectors being Major Druitt RE for cars and track and Mr. A. P. Trotter for the electrical installations. The party assembled at the depot at 9.45am, and the inspectors accompanied by Greene, Travers, Council officials and representatives of the contractors boarded car No 10 and departed first to Seacombe via Wheatland Lane. The car then proceeded to New Brighton via Rake Lane and back to Seacombe via Seabank Road. The inspection was completed by taking the car along Liscard Road to the top of Church Street, reversing and returning to Seacombe via Brighton Street. Having witnessed an emergency stop and examined all track and overhead junctions, especially those at either end of Rowson Street hill, the inspectors declared themselves satisfied, except for the "horseshoe" at New Brighton where the curve on the south side was too sharp. Temporary terminal arrangements were still in force there in late April.

The System Opens

With the inspection successfully concluded, Wallasey Council officials announced that public service would begin on the Rake Lane route at 8am on Monday 17 March. The intervening weekend was spent completing driver training and running cars at frequent intervals along both routes. there was an increasing sense of excitement in the town as people prepared to welcome the new electric cars.

Liscard Road 1902Leaving Seaview Road depot at 7.30am on Monday morning to take up duty at the 8am from New Brighton, the first car lost its trolley head whilst reversing at Liscard. A second car was hastily despatched and left New Brighton at 8.10am. Between 8.30am and 9am another car derailed, finishing on the footpath near Osborne Avenue, whilst in a third mishap a car jumped the points at the foot of Rowson Street, narrowly missing the frontage of the North and South Wales Bank on the opposite corner. There were no injuries, and a ten minute service was provided until 11.45pm.

The opening ceremony, attended by dignitaries from all over Merseyside, was held two days later on 19 March when the Seabank Road route was inaugurated. At noon the Chairman of the Tramway Committee, Dr. T. W. A Napier and other council members, officials and guests assembled at Seacombe Ferry and after declaring the system open from the top deck of a decorated car, travelled past lines of schoolchildren to New Brighton via Seabank Road, returning along Rake Lane to Liscard Village and the depot. Dr. Napier drove the car, and apparently the circuit breaker blew whilst ascending Rowson Street. The car started to run back, and he quickly brought it to a standstill by applying the emergency short-circuit brake.

Map of the TramwaysAfter inspecting the depot and power plant the party then made their way to the Council offices in Church Street for lunch. After the loyal toast, Mr Ellery, Chairman of the Council, proposed "The Wallasey Tramways." In his speech he said that the system must not be considered complete until a line had been built to serve Wallasey Village. Replying, Dr. Napier confessed that elation was tinged with anxiety until the tramway had proved itself. He professed total confidence in the quality of workmanship and defended the Council's policy of supporting English firms even if they were a little more expensive than their foreign competitors. As for Wallasey Village, he assured Mr. Ellery that this would be attended to as soon as possible. Public service started immediately between Seacombe and New Brighton via Seabank Road, and the press were fulsome in their praise - "a few mishaps, but they must inevitably be anticipated when first enslaving and domesticating such a fickle power of electricity."

In their first week of operation the trams carried 60,000 people, and in the first full month nearly 400,000, almost equally divided between the two routes. The single track and loops soon proved to be inadequate. As in Birkenhead, demand had been underestimated, and Wallasey had the additional problem of seasonal holiday traffic. As early as Easter 1902 the 17 available trams had failed to shift the crowds, and the third route - Warren Drive - was not yet in operation. It was inspected and opened on 17 May 1902, completing the initial programme, and was the third line to connect Seacombe with New Brighton.

The Manager recommended the purchase of five bogie single deck combination cars, for which Dick Kerr had quoted £585; however, the Tramways Committee overruled him and an order was placed for five more double deckers identical to No 1 - 20, plus a multi-purpose works car. These became 21-25 and the works car 26.

Large crowds were carried during the 1902 holiday season - 125,000 in Whit Week and 140,000 in early August, but these were exceeded by the 160,000 carried during the Coronation week of Edward VII. From September there was a seasonal downturn, with only 85,000 travelling during the week beginning 13 December. The electrification had stimulated social and economic change; building development increased, leading to a boom in land and property prices, the most sought after residences being those within easy reach of a tram stop. More people chose to live in Wallasey and work in Liverpool. Equally, many now found it cheaper to shop in liverpool. which led to the slow decline of some of the older commercial thoroughfares such as Borough Road, Brighton Street and King Street.

Most of the traffic was towards the three ferries, with Seacombe capturing the lion's share. Patronage on the Egremont and New Brighton boats declined, to the chargrin of the Ferries Committee, who saw the trams as a potential threat to the future of the two northern stations. Both ferries were reached by long. exposed piers on which passengers could be soaked or buffeted by ferocious winds and although Egremont had its quota of regular commuters, it was not surprising that all but the hardiest opted for a tram journey to Seacombe with its short all-weather crossing.

In November 1902 it was agreed that the trams should carry flags tied to their trolley ropes to warn passengers when the northern boats had been suspended due to "stress of weather". One wit claimed that the Tramways Committee had only agreed so that they could demonstrate the superior service offered by their trams. A square blue flag meant "No boat from New Brighton" and a red swallow-tail "No boat from Egremont." Red metal discs were hoisted on various traction poles for the same purpose, at the top of Tobin Street, the top of Church Street, Grove Road/Warren Drive corner and at several points along Victoria Road. The Tramways Committee refused to allow ferry contract holders to travel free when the boats were suspended.

Egremont Tram 1902Relations between the Ferries and Tramways Committees in Wallasey were in sharp contrast to Birkenhead, where direct competition from the Mersey Railway had forced them to co-operate for their mutual protection. In Wallasey, no combined bus/ferry fares were introduced until 1928. However, both committees accepted that the public expected regular and reliable service, and from 12 July 1902 timetables were adjusted to guarantee connections at Seacombe between the ten-minute boats and the ten-minute trams. This was to remain a guiding principle throughout the life of the tramways; everything was geared to meeting the boats on time. Late running was penalised and delays thoroughly investigated.

Liscard Road Interlaced TrackStretches of single line, especially when shared by two services, worked against this and Greene lost no opportunity to argue thecase for double track wherever possible. He presented several reports on the subject, advocating the use of parallel or neighbouring streets for one-way working was already adopted at both Seacombe and New Brighton. Plans for doubling virtually the entire network were prepared for inclusion in a new Tramways and Improvement Act to be presented to Parliament in 1904, but the Bill provoked such opposition from residents and householders that it proved impossible to acquire frontages for road widening, and was abandoned. Despite this, major track doubling was carried out during 1903-04 without specific Parliamentary sanction, increasing the total of double track to 3.38 miles by March 1905, and is best described by taking each route in turn.

Seabank Road Route (2.63 miles)

Seabank Road 1902At the shortest route linking New Brighton and Seacombe, this always carried the heaviest traffic, serving all three ferry stations and the area of greatest residential density and commercial development. Originally the journey time had been 20 minutes, but in the summer months it was extended to 23 minutes. The ten minute headway was found to be inadequate, >>

especially in peak hours, and a five minute evening service was introduced on 12 July 1902 between Molyneux Drive and Seacombe and was later extended to the morning peak, with a 7½ minutefrequency between 10am and 1.30pm. Additional passing loops were put in at Rice Lane and Hale Road in the summer of 1902, and by 1904 the lines were doubled from Brougham Road to Falkland Road and from Rice Lane to Maddock Road. Some of the bracket poles were replaced by span wiring. A loop was laid at the top of Tobin Street , with an outbound-only connection into Church Street, and a crossover was installed at Trafalgar Road for part-way working. Other loops were added at Lincoln Drive (1904) and Magazine Lane (1907). At the same time, the main feeder from Manor Road to Holland Road was renewed. Greene also wanted to double the track in the narrowest part of King Street, but it proved impossible to acquire sufficient frontages.

Rake Lane Route (3.25 miles)

This line picked up a certain amount of holiday overflow traffic from New Brighton but its main source was from the increasingly important shopping centre at Liscard together with passengers from Central Park and the Cemetery. Operationally the most difficult section was the length of Liscard Road from St. John's Church to Liscard Village which it shared with the Warren Drive cars, as there were blind corners at either end of the only one passing loop, at Martin's Lane. As early as September 1902, Greene advocated building a relief line for outbound Rake Lane cars along Manor Road and Grosvenor Street, but it was not adopted. During the winter of 1903-04 the double track on Liscard Road was extended to run from Littledale Road to Lathom Avenue which gave outbound drivers approaching Liscard a clear view of the narrow part of Liscard Road. A short length of interlaced track, the first in Wallasey, was laid between Church Street and Falkland Road being replaced by double lines when the gardens of houses were acquired in 1907. A single point allowed outbound Warren Drive cars to turn out from Church Street. Wooden blocks were laid outside the Central Hospital to reduce noise, and side brackets were replaced by span wires. Throughout its life, the Rake Lane route ran every ten minutes, and required six cars, supplemented at rush hours by three extras. The journey time was 26 minutes.

Warren Drive Route (3.75 miles)

When first introduced, the Warren Drive cars operated only every fifteen minutes, with four cars and a journey time of 28 minutes, Loadings initially were light, producing 6.72d per car mile compared with 8.71d on Rake Lane and 10d on Seabank Road, reflecting the fact that Warren Drive cars operated through an area of low-density high class residential property. However, Greene accurately predicted an increase in the summer when the line would offer unspoilt views of the whole Mersey Estuary and the Welsh hills. North of Liscard there were two loops on the way to the depot, and six more before the rote rejoined the others at New Brighton. The three loops along Warren Drive itself at Ennerdale Road, Stonebark and near Atherton Street were all "blind", and a fourth loops was added at North Drive (Warren Point) in 1903. The service frequency was improved to ten minutes in May 1905.

Hose Side 1906Warren Drive cars left Seacombe via Demesme Street, sharing the track with the Seabank Road cars as far as Egremont and thentraversing Church Street to reach Liscard Road. The two way single track along Church Street with its blind corners at either end proved a serious miscalculation. It was especially hazardous in fog, delays building up at the busy Tobin Street junction, Congestion also occurred every time a boat landed at Egremont, with people walking up the hill to wait for a tram. By December 1902, inbound Warren Drive cars were diverted to operate via Lloyd's Corner, leading to complaints from shopkeepers along Brighton Street. In 1904, as part of a plan to restore trams to Falkland Road (used by horse cars until September 1901) and to encourage greater use of Egremont ferry, it was proposed to lay two sidings in Tobin Street, with connecting tracks into Church Street, King Street and Church Road. The scheme was rejected, but demands continued to be made for a bus or tram route to serve Egremont ferry approach.

In May 1905 the last few yards of single track in Brighton Street (from Church Street to Falkland Road) were doubled, and in July the Council approved the construction of a single track line along Falkland Road, at a cost of £2,050. they rejected an alternative scheme to widen Church Street. the 0.25 mile line was authorised in the Wallasey Tramways and Improvement Act 1906 and work began on 3 January 1907. The line was inspected and opened for use by Seacombe bound Warren Drive cars on 2 May 1907. the fourth tram route, to Poulton and Wallasey Village, did not materialise until 1910-11.

Services, Fares and Profits

Greene's first Annual Report was presented in March 1903, and established several financial precedents. With an operating surplus of £12,000, the Council wisely agreed to the creation of a Sinking Fund and a Depreciation and Renewal Fund, into which a percentage of the profit was deposited annually. In the following year a sum was also transferred for relief of the rates. The life-blood of the system was the 1d penny, which encouraged ridership on a large scale. 70% of all tickets sold were 1d, 29.02% 2d and 0.08% 2d workmen's returns, with total receipts of £31,475. Expenditure amounted to £19,194 made up of wages £13,951, energy £6,630, maintenance £1,150, works staff wages £1,276, and track repairs £76.The cars had run 654,742 miles, carried 5,685,182 passengers at an average fare of 1.3 pence. The construction costs to date including track, overhead, cars and buildings were £120,503 of which £109,000 had been raised by loans, repayments in the first year being £3,773.

On 5 April 1907 certain penny stages were extended; Seacombe to Manor Road (in lieu of Trafalgar Road), Falkland Road, and Egremont to Hose Side (in lieu of St. John's Church to Hose Side). In the following year 250,000 more penny tickets were sold on this route, but this was offset by a drop of 130,000 in 2d sales, a loss of £64. To handle the additional traffic extra mileage had cost £394, an overall loss of £458. Councilors frequently failed to acknowledge the financial consequences of their vote-catching exercises. In April 1908 the Council sanctioned a penny stage from Egremont to New Brighton (in lieu of Molyneux Drive) but postponed a decision on extending the Manor Road 1d stage to Holland Road when the Tramways Committee warned of a considerable "shrinking in revenue".

Between 1903 and 1908 the fleet was augmented by the delivery of a further 14 cars. To carry the growing traffic, especially at peak hours, Wallasey expanded its use of part-way cars which, by 1905-06, accounted for a 5.2% increase in overall mileage. Each route had a number of intermediate termini, some more regularly used that others, Seabank Road usually had a 'part-way' following the through car as far as Molyneux Drive, another to Holland Road and occasionally a third to Trafalgar Road. Rake Lane had no advertised 'part-ways' but cars were occasionally turned at Liscard Village, (known as Wallasey Road), at Earlston Road and at Mount Pleasant Road (Stroud's Corner); on Saturdays there were regular inbound part-way cars to Lloyd's Corner. Warren Drive had 'part-ways' to Grasmere Drive (the depot), Earlston Road, Hose Side (or 'Hoe Side') and Grove Road/Warren Drive junction. All these destinations other than Lloyd's Corner were followed by the suffix "Only." Originally wooden or brass part-way plates were hung on the bulkhead guard-rails but these were eventually replaced by small boards showing the part-way terminus attached to the rear dash by tiny brass chains.

Despite these arrangements, the manager was asked to refute an allegation made to the Board of Trade that cars were being overcrowded. He conceded that some overcrowding was inevitable at rush hours, in the high season and in wet weather, but maintained it was impossible to provide every passenger with a seat since many, despite the ample provision of part-ways, chose to travel on the leading car, leaving the duplicate half empty. Wallasey trams carried 9.17 passengers per car mile, about the average for the whole country.

Unlike Birkenhead, Wallasey trams carried few industrial workers. Most of the passengers were white-collar employees travelling to and from Liverpool, with peaks between 8am and 9am and (the heaviest) between 5pm and 6pm. There was a third peak between 10pm and 11pm with people returning home from places of entertainment. However, from 24 March 1902, a half-hourly service for 'Artizans, mechanics or daily labourers' was operated to Seacombe from Molyneux Drive and Liscard Village (Wallasey Road), starting at 5.12am. Initially only a 2d workmen's return was sold on any car departing before 8am, but a 1d single ticket was introduced later. This enabled the unemployed who crossed to Liverpool in search of work but were unsuccessful to return home before the 2d ticket became valid at 4pm. From 13 May 1907 the Seabank Road departure were extended to Victoria Road/Rowson Street, operating every 15 minutes from 5.05am. Following a short-lived extension to Rake Lane (at Earlston Road) the other early morning cars re-scheduled to start at the depot. They were supplemented by March 1908 (and probably from 18 December 1907) by a half-hourly service from Grove Road/Warren Drive, starting at 7.03am. Later, with the opening of the Poulton route cars were left the same point travelling via Wallasey Village from 4.42am (later 4.56am). This pattern continued 'virtually unchanged to abandonment. Although providing a necessary service, only an average of 1,100 per day used the early cars and of these 60% purchased the 1d single ticket.

The tramways augmented their ordinary revenue by hiring cars for use by private parties. The first known hire was on 15 October 1902 when the Committee agreed to convoy 600 children free of charge from Seacombe to Clifton Hall on the occasion of a visit by Lord Strathcona of the Navy League. With the opening in 1911 of the tramway to Harrison Drive demand for hire cars increased and by the year ending 31 March 1912 7,660 passengers had been carried over 687 car miles for £64 at a rate of 22.36d per mile. The usual large load required five or six cars; however a Liverpool Sunday School outing required 12 cars to convey 793 children. From 1 April 1912 hire charges were revised to 10s per car for a return trip over a 1d stage and 15s over a 2d stage. There was a reduction for cars carrying 60 0r over. The rates were again revised in July 1913 to 10s 6d per 1d stage, 15s 6d for a 2d stage and 21s for the new 3d stage.

Improving The Layout

The year 1907 saw major improvements to both the principal termini. As the loop at Seacombe was meant to handle three services it is surprising that it was designed with no sidings or loops; trams arrived at the ferry via Church Road, traversed the loop in a clockwise direction and left via Demesne Street (the reverse of the flow envisaged in the 1988 Act). Cars therefore had to depart in the order they arrived, and any breakdown there would cause major delays.

New Brighton 1902A siding, first used on 18 June 1902, was soon added on the south side of Victoria Place to enable the more frequent Seabank Road cars to overtake others, and in February/March 1907 the tracks on the north side were re-aligned to include a passing loop and a short dead-end stub for disabled cars. Inspectors could now regulate car movements before despatching them to the departure tracks. A facing crossover was laid at the foot of Church Road for emergency use, and a curve was built later linking Demesne Street to the north side of the loop, probably to provide for a suggested reversal of the flow into Seacombe urged in July 1911 by the Brighton Street traders. A six-month experiment was envisaged, but there is no evidence that it took place. No further alterations were necessary at Seacombe, despite the peak-hour provision from 1911 of some eleven cars to meet each 10-minute boat.

New Brighton 1907At New Brighton, the Tramways Department was faced by two problems; firstly the terminal loop and secondly the one-way system in and out of of the resort. the anti-clockwise 'Horse Shoe' (a name first given to the pierapproaches in 1864) was inconvenient and inflexible, as cars were again obliged to leave in the order they arrived, and there was nowhere to park spare trams. From 29 March 1907 the loop was was replaced by the grid-iron of four sidings each capable of accommodating two cars. A curve was also added from Virginia Road to Victoria Road allowing some cars to by-pass the grid-iron, especially on bank holidays. Two of thesidings incorporated parts of the old loop. Hitherto in the summer, drivers had experienced difficulty in edging around the loop when crowds thronged the ferry approaches; now conductors struggled to turn the trolleys as passengers clambered off one end whilst others pushed on board at the other. Point boys assisted car movements, temporary staff sold tickets to the waiting crowds and an inspector was always on duty in summer. In winter only the pair of sidings nearest the Ferry Hotel were used, but in the summer the Seabank Road cars used the northern pair.

Victoria Road Tram IncidentFrom the same date, 29 March 1907, the flow in and out of New Brighton was reversed, with inbound cars travelling via VirginiaRoad and outbound via Victoria Road (in response of an incident in May 1905 when a Seabank Road car brakes failed, left the track and crashed into the North and South Wales Bank on the corner of Rowson Street). To counter local opposition to the reversed flow, Travers unsuccessfully explored the possibility of doubling the track in Victoria Road. The 1904 Bill, had it succeeded, would have provided a 90-yard storage siding in Virginia Road and a one-way avoiding line from Victoria Road via Grosvenor Road and Egerton Street to rejoin Rowson Street, but Greene had opposed this, claiming that outbound cars would lose potential traffic by not passing through the main junction.

Further track improvements were made at the busy Rowson Street/Victoria Road junction in 1911. The single track at the foot of Rowson Street hill was doubled and a new crossover installed at Pickering Road. This was used by early morning cars which arrived from the depot via Warren Drive, reversed in lower part of Rowson Street and then proceeded wrong track to the crossover. A Collins' automatic point controller was installed for outbound cars in Victoria Road for a three-month trial; if the driver wished to alter the setting, he went under the skate with the power on. Similar equipment was provided at Molyneux Drive, Brighton Street (Church Street) and Liscard Village in 1912 and in the following year at Seacombe Ferry and the top of Falkland Road. In February 1912 the track was doubled between St James Vicarage and Atherton Street (Victoria Road) leaving a short length of single line immediately prior to the junction. The proximity of the Wirral Railway cutting at New Brighton station and the excessive camber of the road prevented any further extension of the double track.

A further improvement at New Brighton did not materialise. As part of a campaign to create a resort to rival Blackpool and Southport, the Council was determined to improve New Brighton's image. The 1906 Improvement Act had sanctioned a stretch of promenade linking the pier approach with a new Marine Park. In the process many of the old buildings near the ferry pier were swept away, including the notorious Ham and Eggs Parade, a collection of seedy cafes and amusement arcades. The New Brighton Improvements Association recommended the construction of a double track tramway along the new promenade at a cost of £8,000, but due to to the short distance and the seasonal nature of the traffic the Council refused. However, by 1913 they were again considering an application to Parliament for powers to build a line linking New Brighton with Harrison Drive/Grove Road, to be operated in the summer months by toastrack cars, partly on private track across the sand dunes, Unfortunately the war intervened and the idea was never revived.

By 7 February 1911 double track had also been laid in Wheatland Lane between Geneva Road and Milton Road, and in April 1912 along Warren Drive from a point north of Ennerdale Road down to Grove Road Junction. Attention then turned to the Seabank Road route. The most heavily used stretch of single track and loops on the system, from Molyneux Drive to Manor Road, was relaid in stages between March 1914 and March 1915, including some road widening and renewing the feeder cables and the overhead. A passenger shelter was also provided at Manor Road. A siding in either Manor Road or Trafalgar Road for cars awaiting cinema crowds was rejected, a second crossover being installed in King Street about 15o yards south of the existing one. To prevent wheel screech and reduce wear on sharp-curves, track fountain hydrants were fitted in 1911 at Hose Side Road, Grove Road (Warren Drive) and Victoria Road (Rowson Street).

The Urban District of Wallasey became a Municipal Borough in 1910, and a County Borough three years later. the word "Council" was swiftly replaced by "Corporation" on the rocker panels of the cars, and the new coat of arms were applied, though some cars are thought to have retained the WCT monogram until after World War I. The population had risen rapidly by 25,000 to 78,000 during the ten years 1900-10 and by 1913 had reached 83,000, due in no small part to the joint role played by the trams and the ferries.