Richard Harvey

The stud tram fiasco: the surface contact experiment on the London County Council tramways.

Professor Richard Dennis (UCL)

Richard graduated in Classics and Moral Sciences (philosophy) at Selwyn College, Cambridge, and then trained as a librarian.  He spent his working life at Guildhall Library, a specialist reference library concentrating on London history.  Following retirement in 2003, he felt he should acquire an academic qualification in history (he had failed O-level history as a schoolboy), and was awarded the MA in London Studies at Birkbeck, University of London, in 2006.

Research and publications

Wishing to proceed further in academic research, he chose as his topic the unsuccessful experiment with the Griffiths-Bedell “stud contact” system of current collection, tried on the LCC’s Whitechapel-Bow tramway in 1907-1909, and its political and legal consequences.  This topic had long interested him, both as a tram enthusiast and as a student of London history.  When told of his interest, Richard’s father recalled seeing a stud tram working in Hastings prior to the First World War (but that was on a different system).  Richard’s research has mainly been carried out at London Metropolitan Archives, Guildhall Library and the British Library, but with excursions to The National Archives and a private collection in Kent.

Richard’s publications relate to his earlier interest in family history, another specialist topic covered by Guildhall Library. 


  • Genealogy for Librarians (2nd ed., Library Association Publishing, 1992).