16 JANUARY 1948, Page 4

My suggestion that the word " tram " was created

by beheading Mr. Outram, who invented iron tramways in the latter part of the eighteenth century, does not find general favour. It is a legend I was brought up on, and one does not shed credulity lightly. There was, it is affirmed, a word " traam " or "tram " used as long ago as the sixteenth century. There evidently was,-but it didn't mean anything like what we call a tram today. It meant a shaft, hence (so they say) the vehicle of which the shaft forms a part, hence ultimately the very specialised vehicle known as a tram now. Alter- natively, the original " tram " was a piece of woocl—possibly a shaft, equally possibly a kind of sleeper forming part of a timber pathway or tramway on which wheeled vehicles would run easily ; and in this case, too, the name (why ?) was transferred to the vehicle. I expect this is all true, but since Benjamin Outram, who lived from 1764 to 1805, undoubtedly did introduce iron rails, called trams, for colliery use, it is not surprising that the word got mixed up with his name—though here, too, the transference of the term from the road to the vehicle needs explaining.

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