Book Review: Leeds Trams and Buses by Michael Berry

The latest in a series of pictorial books from Amberley Publishing deals with the transport history of Leeds, featuring a fine selection of interesting images showing trams and motor buses from the Yorkshire city. The cover features a splendid photograph of Leeds 600, now of course preserved by the Tramway Museum Society (although not on public display at present), and this sets the tone nicely for the contents of this book.

Starting with a brief summary of the early development of public transportation in Leeds and an overview of the trams and buses that operated in that city, the rest of the book is largely given over to images with informative captions. The majority of the tram pictures feature the later survivors of the system, such as the Horsfield class, ex-London Feltham cars and the unusual Middleton bogie cars, although a few earlier vehicles are also depicted including an undated shot of a very early single-deck car at Sheepscar Junction. Most of the pictures are black and white, but there are also a good number of colour photos showing the tramway in its twilight years. Two images of the VAMBAC-equipped ‘Railcar’ Leeds 602 being delivered when new are particularly interesting, as are a couple of scenes showing decorated trams. Page 27 features a particularly good colour shot of a Horsfield car decorated with illuminations to commemorate the last Leeds trams in 1959. There are also a few pages devoted to the ancillary fleet for those who are interested in works and maintenance vehicles.

Unfortunately from the reviewer’s viewpoint, about two-thirds of this book is given over to buses, and once again the majority of the pictures are in black and white, although the quality is generally very high. I personally know very little about rubber tyred vehicles, but the range of buses shown in a variety of different locations should appeal to those who like other modes of transport.

For anyone who is interested in both buses and trams, particularly those hailing from Leeds, this book offers a nice selection of archive photographs at a very affordable £14.99. For those who are solely tram enthusiasts, I would recommend it only if you have a particular interest in Leeds trams, in which case there are probably about half a dozen unusual images which justify the price alone. This does not set out to offer a definitive history of the city’s transport – other publications already exist to do just that – but as a photo album with some interesting background information, it is a worthy addition to a transport fan’s library.

‘Leeds Trams and Buses’ was published by Amberley Publishing in June 2013 and is on sale now, RRP £14.99. ISBN No. 978-1-4456-1484-7. For further information, please visit www.amberley-books.com

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2 Responses to Book Review: Leeds Trams and Buses by Michael Berry

  1. Hugh McAulay says:

    While this is an interesting book in many ways, there are errors of fact in the narrative at the beginning of the book.
    The Author is incorrect in stating that both J B Hamilton and A W Findlay were General managers of Glasgow Tramways/Corporation Transport. Hamilton was Traffic Manager, Findlay was Rolling Stock Engineer and had much input into the development of the Coronations.

    • Robin Oldfield says:

      If readers wish to discover the errors in this book they need look no further than the four reviews on Amazon. I don’t think I have ever read a book of this kind with so many howlers in it.