Looking back at old photos of the Peak Tram, there is something on the roof that stands out – a pantograph.
A pantograph is mounted on the roof of an electric train, tram or bus to collect power through contact with an overhead line.
The overhead wires are visible in this 1960s photo at Barker Road Station.
The 4th generation tramcar plinthed near the upper Peak Tram terminus still has a pantograph on the roof.
As does the sister car stored outside the Kennedy Road shed.
So when were the pantographs and overhead wires installed?
My guess was 1926 – the year when the Peak Tram haulage system was changed from the original steam powered winding engine to an electric motor, and a new style of tramcar was introduced.
My reasoning – early photos of the 1st generation Peak Tram cars lack pantographs, but the 2nd generation trams do.
By the 1940s the overhead was definitely in place:
19 April 1946
The Peak Tram service was maintained until the morning of 17 December 1941, when a bomb fell alongside the track near the Points House, severed the rope in several places and brought down all overhead equipment.
The end of the pantographs and overhead wire came in 1989, when the green Peak Tram cars were replaced by the modern articulated trams.
These cars have electric lights inside the passenger saloon, yet no obvious form of power supply exists, so I assume they use an onboard generator.
Did the different tram generations run together?
This 1925 photo appears to show a 1st generation Peak Tram car running with a trolley pole on the roof, which just raises more questions!
Were trolley poles introduced to the Peak Tram sometime between 1888 and 1926, or were the 1st generation tram cars refitted to work on the electrically operated haulage system after 1926?