Tramways in Handsworth Public transport services, which are taken so much for granted today, as part of the pattern of urban life, were unknown little more than a century ago. Regular long distance mail and passenger coaches were well established, but one travelled only if one must. Handsworth was self-sufficient and was separated from Birmingham and West Bromwich by open country.
However there was enough demand for Mr. W. Doughty to set up a horse-bus service in the summer of 1834 from the Beehive Inn near Handsworth to the White Horse, Steelhouse Lane, Birmingham. This was only 2 months after the first established service in Birmingham. In 1836, the Birmingham Omnibus Conveyance Co., began services to West Bromwich, extended later to Wolverhampton and Dudley. These early horse-bus services operated, between public houses as, being "short stage carriages" they were not allowed to stand on the streets. Wrighteon & Webb's Directory 1846 lists the "Handsworth Omnibus through Hunter's Lane from the Rose and Punch Bowl, Bull Street, Birmingham, to the Frighted Horse and New Inns seven times daily."
In the 1850's, William Mayner, both father and son, were running services in Handsworth and Lozells on the same routes in opposition to each other. These local services, operated by individuals apparently sufficed, and not until 1869 did the Birmingham Omnibus Co. appear with office and waiting-room at 53, High Street, serving Handsworth among other places. A local event in 1872 was the opening of the tram route from Hockley Brook to West Bromwich and Dudley Port. This inaugurated by the Birmingham & District Tramways Co. Ltd., was extended into Birmingham in 1873. Financially the tramway was not a success, probably due to the competition from the existing omnibuses, so that within four years a new company had taken over both services and W. Mayner became the manager.
There was a line down Villa Road to Villa Cross with a depot in Lozells Road. Birmingham and the Black Country were later to see the largest network of narrow-gauge tramways in the country (3' 6" gauge), but the two original horse tramways were laid to the standard 4' 8½" gauge. In Handsworth as in Birmingham. the local authority was the owner of the tracks and the Company a lessee operator.