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 The Sanford Yard and Shops

The Sanford Yard and Shops

History

The first maintenance and storage facility of the HSR was the North Barn, located at 63 Stuart St, between MacNab and Bay. Built in 1874, the facilities were expanded in 1875 and in 1886. As the HSR expanded, two additional maintenance and storage yards were built. The HSR built small facilities around the city because of the need to change horses regularly. The East Barn was built in 1890 and located on the southwest corner of King St East & Sanford could store 18 cars and 60 horses. The South Barn built in 1891 and located on the northwest corner of Locke & Herkimer could store 12 cars and 42 horses.

Electrification of the HSR in 1892 resulted in the elimination of most horses and their stables, but required new larger shops to work on the electrical equipment and on larger streetcars. The HSR was purchased by the Cataract Company in 1899, and as the Cataract company bought other Hamilton area radial lines, the HSR was given responsibility for maintenance of all radial cars in addition to its own fleet of streetcars.

The destruction of the South Barn by fire in Jan 1908 resulted in the HSR deciding to concentrate maintenance work at the East Barn. In 1910 a new streetcar inspection barn and yard was constructed between Sanford and Wentworth, with the yard running north-south from King to Wilson. The original East Barn across the street became the HSR’s main repair shop. As originally built, Sanford Yard had 10 storage tracks, four of which ran through the inspection barn that was built in the yard to handle minor maintenance.

The North Barn was closed in 1912, due to the age of the facility and the lack of space for expansion. The East Barn was now the sole repair shop on the entire Hamilton streetcar and radial system, and very quickly became overloaded. Additional smaller facilities were built in the vicinity of the Hamilton Terminal Station, but financial problems at the HSR and later concern over renewal of the HSR’s franchise agreement with the city prevented the construction of larger more modern repair shops.

As part of the franchise agreement reached in 1926 between the city and the HSR, the HSR promised to build a new repair shop. It was decided to put the new shop on the east side of Wentworth, next to the existing inspection barn and storage yard. This site was chosen because for the most part it was on property already owned by the HSR, and it was centrally located, meaning that out-of-service streetcars and buses would have less distance to travel before starting their runs. It was next to the HSR’s tracks on King St East, the HRER’s tracks on Wilson, and was reasonably close to the HG&B tracks and the Hamilton Terminal Station. One disadvantage was that the B&H tracks were not well serviced by the location (the H&D had by this time been abandoned several years earlier). Construction began on August 20, 1927.

Architectural Details

The new building housing the Sanford Shops was a single storey L-shaped building, 385 x 250 ft (117.3 x 76.2 m) along its longest sides, with a total floor area of just under 110,000 sq ft (10 220 sq m). Building design was by the architectural firm of B. H. & F. Prack, with construction done by a mix of local contractors and the Cataract Company’s own construction staff.

The building was divided into 4 sections: staff offices and employee facilities; a general storeroom for all shop and construction materials; a bus garage where all city, interurban buses and service trucks would be repaired, serviced, cleaned and stored; and the car shops where city and interurban cars would be repaired or rebuilt. The car shop section included a machine shop, armature repair shop, forge shop, pit room, paint shop, and carpenter shop. These last four sections were served by a 60-ton capacity transfer table. The shops allowed for 10 streetcars to be worked on at one time, along with a two track paint shop.

The interior of the Sanford Shops when built.

The interior of the Sanford Shops when built. (From Jun 30 1928 issue of Electric Railway Journal, pg 1068)

The building’s exterior walls were pressed brick, with windows making up 40% of the walls. The building trim along Wentworth Street was cut stone, while the rest of the trim was artificial stone. All inside walls with the exception of those in the offices were painted white with pearl gray 4 ft. from the floor. The partition walls of the offices were of gypsum slab construction, plastered and painted in a buff shade with chestnut trim. Most of the floors were concrete, except for the floors of the general storeroom, machine shop, armature repair shop, pit room and carpenter shop which were creosoted wood blocks, laid grain on end on a concrete slab.

Six additional yard tracks were added to Sanford Yard, as well as a turning wye which extended part-way along Nightingale Street. The inspection barn was converted into a minor maintenance and streetcar washing facility.

The Sanford Shops and Yard.

The Sanford Shops and Yard. (From Jun 30 1928 issue of Electric Railway Journal, pg 1068)

Photo of Sanford Yard 1928.

Photo of Sanford Yard taken from the top of the shops building shortly after opening in 1928. The building on the right with the two peaked roof sections is the former inspection barn. The large buildings in the background are industries along Sanford Ave, and are not part of the Sanford shops & yard complex. Note the two radial cars next to Wilson street in the background. (From the Richard Vincent collection, used with permission)

Operations

The Sanford Shops began operation on March 1, 1928. The shops would be used by radial cars for only three years, with Hamilton radial service coming to an end at the end of June 1931. However, this was not the end of radial cars at Sanford Yard. HG&B 152 was converted into a ticket office and lost & found office, located at Sanford yard next to King St E. HG&B 173 & 174 were converted into storage sheds, located on the north side of the former inspection barn.

HG&B #173:2 in use as a storage shed at the HSR Sanford shops.

HG&B #173:2 in use as a storage shed at the HSR Sanford shops. The date is unknown, but the streetcar tracks in the foreground place it between the early 1930s and the early 1950s. (From the Richard Vincent collection, used with permission)

Aerial photo of Sanford Yard, 1934

Aerial photo of Sanford Yard, 1934. North is at top.

Bus service had begun in Hamilton in 1926, but large numbers of buses were not purchased until WWII. As the war progressed, more buses were bought to increase service, while several streetcar routes were discontinued. The HSR was purchased by Canada Coach Lines in 1946, at which time the HSR had 70 streetcars and 83 buses. The CCL retired its own bus maintenance facilities in favour of the Sanford Shops.

In 1950 the HSR began trolley bus service on the CANNON route, which was a busy bus route that ran in part along Wilson, meaning that trolley buses could enter service by just exiting the yard. With the end of streetcar service in April 1951, two HSR streetcars, 408 and another Preston DEST, were converted into storage cars for road salt.

Aerial photo of Sanford Yard, 1950

Aerial photo of Sanford Yard, 1950. North is at top.

By the late 1970s, the ever expanding suburbs on Hamilton Mountain meant that buses were travelling greater and greater distances while out of service. The HSR decided to build a second bus garage in Glanbrook, on Upper James St between Twenty Rd and Dickenson Rd. The Mountain Transit Centre opened on Jan 2, 1984.

Closing

By the late 1980s, the Sanford Shops were showing their age. The HSR and the City of Hamilton decided to build a replacement garage on Wentworth St, just north of the tracks of the Canadian National main line. Wentworth Garage was opened on Jan 8, 1990, and the Sanford shops was closed at the same time. Demolition and cleanup of the Sanford site began in March 1991 and lasted 6 months. The site was sold to the Hamilton Catholic School Board, and is now the site of Cathedral High School.

stone marker

A stone marker on the wall of the school at the south-west corner commemorates the Sanford Shops and Yard.

Some of the dates for these photos are unknown, and the locations are often just a guess. If you know either date or location, email me!

Sanford Yard, before 1928

HSR 471 at the Sanford yard

HSR 471 at the Sanford yard, between 1917 and 1919. (From the Richard Vincent collection, used with permission)

HSR 407 (ex 118) in Sanford yard

HSR 407 (ex 118), along with HSR 423 and HG&B 156 in Sanford yard, Date unknown. (From the Richard Vincent collection, used with permission)

HTC 603 is towed back to the Sanford yard

HTC 603 is towed back to the Sanford yard after being damaged in a collision during the 1910s. (From the Richard Vincent collection, used with permission)

HG&B #172 at Sanford Yard in January 1920.

HG&B #172 at Sanford Yard in January 1920. (Photo courtesy of Library and Archives Canada, used with permission)

HG&B #173:2 at Sanford Yard in the early 1920s.

HG&B #173:2 at Sanford Yard in the early 1920s. (From the Richard Vincent collection, used with permission)

HTC dump motor 146 at Sanford Yard, circa 1921.

HTC dump motor 146 at Sanford Yard, circa 1921. (From the Richard Vincent collection, used with permission)

HTC 149 at Sanford yard, March 1923.

HTC 149 at Sanford yard, March 1923. (From the Richard Vincent collection, used with permission)

HG&B #168 at Sanford Yard in 1925.

HG&B #168 at Sanford Yard in 1925. (From the Al Paterson collection, used with permission)

Sanford Yard & Shops, streetcar era

HSR 95 at Sanford Yard, sometime in the 1920s.

HSR 95 at Sanford Yard, sometime in the late 1920s. #95 is coupled to #91, both of which were rebuilt from open to closed cars by the HSR. (From the Al Patterson collection, used with permission)

HTC/HSR 149 at Sanford yard, April 10, 1938.

HTC/HSR 149 at Sanford yard, April 10, 1938. (From the Richard Vincent collection, used with permission)

HSR 429 in the Sanford Yard, Feb 19, 1938.

HSR 429 in the Sanford Yard, Feb 19, 1938. (From the Richard Vincent collection, used with permission)

HSR 407 at Sanford Yard, March 15 1947.

HSR 407 at Sanford Yard, March 15 1947. (From the Richard Vincent collection, used with permission)

HSR 4:2 at Sanford yard in 1949.

HSR 4:2 at Sanford yard in 1949. (Photo courtesy of the Richard Vincent collection, used with permission)

HSR 408 in the Sanford Yard.

HSR 408 in the Sanford Yardin the late 1940s. It appears that it has already been used as a storage shed, but hasn't yet been fully converted (i.e. windows not boarded up) into a storage shed for road salt. (From Dave’s Electric Railroads.)

HSR 511 in the Sanford yard, during a summer in the late 1940s.

HSR 511 in the Sanford yard, during a summer in the late 1940s. (From Alan Gryfe’s collection, used with permission)

HTC 149 waits as a Laconia DEDT streetcar enters Sanford yard, date unknown.

HTC 149 waits as a Laconia DEDT streetcar exits Sanford yard onto Wilson Street, date unknown. (Photographer unknown)

HTC 149 at Sanford yard, date unknown.

HTC 149 at Sanford yard, date unknown. (Photographer unknown)

HSR 404 in the Sanford Yard, date unknown

HSR 404 in the Sanford Yard, date unknown.(From Dave’s Electric Railroads.)

HSR 420 in the Sanford yard

HSR 420 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. (From Dave’s Electric Railroads.)

HSR 413 in the Sanford Yard.

HSR 413 in the Sanford Yard, date unknown. (From Dave’s Electric Railroads.)

HSR 413 at Sanford Yard

HSR 413 at Sanford Yard, date unknown. (From the Stephen M. Scalzo collection, used with permission)

HSR 413 at Sanford Yard

HSR 413 at Sanford Yard, date unknown. (From the Stephen M. Scalzo collection, used with permission)

HSR 417 at Sanford Yard

HSR 417 at Sanford Yard, date unknown. (From the Stephen M. Scalzo collection, used with permission)

HSR 419 in the Sanford Yard.

HSR 419 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. Behind it is a pair of the HSR’s sweepers. (From Dave’s Electric Railroads.)

HSR 431 in the Sanford yard, date unknown

HSR 431 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. (From Dave’s Electric Railroads.)

HSR 431 in the Sanford yard, date unknown

HSR 431 in the Sanford yard, date unknown (Photo courtesy of the Hamilton Public Library, Local History & Archives, used with permission)

HSR 455 at Sanford Yard

HSR 455 at Sanford Yard, date unknown. (From the Stephen M. Scalzo collection, used with permission)

HSR 455 at Sanford Yard

HSR 455 at Sanford Yard, date unknown. (From the Stephen M. Scalzo collection, used with permission)

HSR 455 at Sanford Yard

HSR 457 at Sanford Yard, date unknown.

An unknown Preston DT car

An unknown Preston DT car (possibly 441) at Sanford yard. (From Dave’s Electric Railroads.)

HSR 500 in the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 500 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. (From Dave’s Electric Railroads, used with permission)

HSR 500 in the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 500 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. (From the Stephen M. Scalzo collection, used with permission)

HSR 500 in the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 500 in the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 506 in the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 506 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. (From the Stephen M. Scalzo collection, used with permission)

HSR 507 in the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 507 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. (From the Stephen M. Scalzo collection, used with permission)

HSR 508 in the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 508 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. (From the Stephen M. Scalzo collection, used with permission)

HSR 509 in the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 509 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. (From the Stephen M. Scalzo collection, used with permission)

HSR 509 in the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 509 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. (Photographer unknown)

HSR 511 in the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 511 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. (From the Stephen M. Scalzo collection, used with permission)

HSR 513 in the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 513 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. (From the Stephen M. Scalzo collection, used with permission)

HSR 514 in the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 514 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. (From the Stephen M. Scalzo collection, used with permission)

HSR 520 in the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 520 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. (From the Stephen M. Scalzo collection, used with permission)

HSR 521 at Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 521 at Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 523 in the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 523 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. (From the Stephen M. Scalzo collection, used with permission)

HSR 526 in the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 526 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. (From the Stephen M. Scalzo collection, used with permission)

HSR 527 at Sanford Yard, date unknown.

HSR 527 at Sanford Yard, date unknown.

HSR 536 in the Sanford yard, date unknown

HSR 536 in the Sanford yard, date unknown (From Dave’s Electric Railroads, used with permission)

HSR 536 in the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 536 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. (From the Stephen M. Scalzo collection, used with permission)

HSR 536 in the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 536 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. (From the Stephen M. Scalzo collection, used with permission)

HSR 537 in the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 537 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. (From the Stephen M. Scalzo collection, used with permission)

HSR 540 at Sanford yard.

HSR 540 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. (From Dave’s Electric Railroads, used with permission)

HSR 543 in the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 543 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. (From the Stephen M. Scalzo collection, used with permission)

HSR 544 in the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 544 in the Sanford yard, date unknown. (From the Stephen M. Scalzo collection, used with permission)

Sanford Yard & Shops, Bus & Trolley bus era

The changing of the guard, Sanford yard, 1951.

The changing of the guard, Sanford yard, 1951. From left to right are trolleybuses HSR 704 and 715; streetcars HSR 505 and 504; and HSR 518 on the right. (From the Richard Vincent collection, used with permission)

HSR 111 at the Sanford yard in 1942.

HSR 111 at the Sanford yard in 1942. (Photo courtesy of the Hamilton Public Library, Local History & Archives.)

HSR 113 at the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 113 at the Sanford yard, date unknown. (Photo from the Ed Viveiros collection, used with permission.)

HSR 260 and 272 at the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 260 and 272 at the Sanford yard, date unknown. (From Alan Gryfe’s collection, used with permission)

HSR 89, at the Sanford yard, spring 1950.

HSR 89 at the Sanford yard, spring 1950. (Photo by Stuart Westland)

HSR 214:2 at the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 214:2 at the Sanford yard, date unknown. (From Alan Gryfe’s collection, used with permission)

HSR 198 at Sanford yard, 1950.

HSR 198 at Sanford yard, 1950. (From the Richard Vincent collection, used with permission)

HSR 306 at Sanford Yard, Nov 6, 1956.

HSR 306 at Sanford Yard, Nov 6, 1956. (From the Richard Vincent collection, used with permission)

HSR 703 and 712 rest in Sanford Yard

HSR 703 and 712 rest in Sanford Yard, date unknown (From Dave’s Electric Railroads.)

HSR 495 at the Sanford yard, date unknown.

HSR 495 at the Sanford yard, date unknown. (From Alan Gryfe’s collection, used with permission)

HSR 717 at Sanford yard in May 1969

HSR 717 at Sanford yard in May 1969, along with HSR 462. (Photo by Mike Harrington, used with permission)

HSR 557 at Sanford Yard

HSR 557 at Sanford Yard, date unknown. (Photo by Bob Hussey, used with permission. From Esbdave's Fotki Page)

HSR 559 at Sanford Yard

HSR 559 at Sanford Yard, date unknown. (Photo by Bob Hussey, used with permission. From Esbdave's Fotki Page)

HSR 520 at Sanford Yard

HSR 520 at Sanford Yard, date unknown. (Photo by Bob Hussey, used with permission. From Esbdave's Fotki Page)

HSR 512 at Sanford Yard

HSR 512 at Sanford Yard, date unknown. (Photo from the Edward Viveiros collection, used with permission.)

HSR 512, 517 & 523 at Sanford Yard

HSR 512, 517 & 523 at Sanford Yard, date unknown. (Photo by Bob Hussey, used with permission. From Esbdave's Fotki Page)

HSR 514, 508 & 453 at Sanford Yard

HSR 514, 508 & 453 at Sanford Yard, date unknown. (Photo by Bob Hussey, used with permission. From Esbdave's Fotki Page)

HSR 454 at Sanford Yard

HSR 454 at Sanford Yard, date unknown. (Photo by Bob Hussey, used with permission. From Esbdave's Fotki Page)

HSR 753, 775, and a few other E-700As at Sanford Yard

HSR 753, 775, and a few other E-700As at Sanford Yard sometime in the 1970s (Photo by J. D. Morgan)

HSR 769 at Sanford Yard

HSR 769 at Sanford Yard, date unknown (By Joseph Testagrose, used with permission)

HSR 452 at Sanford Yard in the mid 1970s.

HSR 452 at Sanford Yard in the mid 1970s. (Photo from the Edward Viveiros collection, used with permission.)

CCL 1651 at Sanford Yard in the mid 1970s

CCL 1651 at Sanford Yard in the mid 1970s. (Photo by Bob Hussey, used with permission. From Esbdave's Fotki Page)

CCL 1803 at Sanford Yard in the mid 1970s

CCL 1803 at Sanford Yard in the mid 1970s. (Photo by Bob Hussey, used with permission. From Esbdave's Fotki Page)

HSR 80 inside the Sanford yard shop in the mid 1970s.

HSR 80 (ex HSR 94) inside the Sanford yard shop in the mid 1970s. (Photo by Bob Hussey, used with permission. From Esbdave's Fotki Page)

HSR 88 at Sanford yard in the mid 1970s.

HSR 88 (ex HSR 95) at Sanford yard in the mid 1970s. (Photo by Bob Hussey, used with permission. From Esbdave's Fotki Page)

HSR 602 in Sanford Yard in the mid 1970s.

HSR 602 in Sanford Yard in the mid 1970s. (Photo by Bob Hussey, used with permission. From Esbdave's Fotki Page)

HSR 612 in Sanford Yard in the mid 1970s.

HSR 612 in Sanford Yard in the mid 1970s. (Photo by Bob Hussey, used with permission. From Esbdave's Fotki Page)

HSR 560 at Sanford Yard in the mid 1970s.

HSR 560 at Sanford Yard in the mid 1970s. (Photo from the Edward Viveiros collection, used with permission.)

HSR 628 in Sanford Yard in the mid 1970s.

HSR 628 in Sanford Yard in the mid 1970s. (Photo by Bob Hussey, used with permission. From Esbdave's Fotki Page)

HSR 633 in Sanford Yard in the mid 1970s.

HSR 633 in Sanford Yard in the mid 1970s. (Photo by Bob Hussey, used with permission. From Esbdave's Fotki Page)

HSR 636 in Sanford Yard in the mid 1970s.

HSR 636 in Sanford Yard in the mid 1970s. (Photo by Bob Hussey, used with permission. From Esbdave's Fotki Page)

HSR 644 in Sanford Yard in the mid 1970s.

HSR 644 in Sanford Yard in the mid 1970s. (Photo by Bob Hussey, used with permission. From Esbdave's Fotki Page)

HSR 665 in Sanford Yard in the mid 1980s.

HSR 665 in Sanford Yard in the mid 1980s. (Photo by Bob Hussey, used with permission. From Esbdave's Fotki Page)

CCL 626 (ex HSR) in Sanford Yard in the late 1970s.

CCL 626 (ex HSR) in Sanford Yard in the late 1970s. (Photo by Bob Hussey, used with permission. From Esbdave's Fotki Page)

CCL 627 (ex HSR) in Sanford Yard.

CCL 627 (ex HSR) with CCL 1981 at Sanford Yard in the late 1970s. (Photo from the Edward Viveiros collection, used with permission)

CCL 1996 at Sanford Yard.

CCL 1996 at Sanford Yard in Hamilton, date unknown. (Photo from the Edward Viveiros collection, used with permission)

HSR 648 in Sanford Yard.

HSR 648 in Sanford Yard, date unknown. (Photo by Bob Hussey, used with permission. From Esbdave's Fotki Page)

HSR 667 in Sanford Yard.

HSR 667 in Sanford Yard, date unknown. (Photo by Bob Hussey, used with permission. From Esbdave's Fotki Page)

HSR 671 in Sanford Yard.

HSR 671 in Sanford Yard, date unknown. (Photo by Bob Hussey, used with permission. From Esbdave's Fotki Page)

HSR 803 in Sanford Yard.

HSR 803 in Sanford Yard, date unknown. (Photo by Bob Hussey, used with permission. From Esbdave's Fotki Page)

HSR 806 and 810 in Sanford Yard.

HSR 806 and 810 in Sanford Yard, date unknown. (Photo by Bernie Drouillard, from the Dave Colton collection, used with permission. From Esbdave's Fotki Page)

HSR 810 in Sanford Yard.

HSR 810 in Sanford Yard, date unknown. (Photo by Bob Hussey, used with permission. From Esbdave's Fotki Page)

HSR 822 in Sanford Yard.

HSR 822 in Sanford Yard, date unknown. (Photo by Bob Hussey, used with permission. From Esbdave's Fotki Page)

HSR 850 in Sanford Yard in the early 1970s.

HSR 850 in Sanford Yard in the early 1970s. (Photo by Bob Hussey, used with permission. From Esbdave's Fotki Page)

HSR 845 in Sanford Yard.

HSR 845 in Sanford Yard, date unknown. (Photo by Bob Hussey, used with permission. From Esbdave's Fotki Page)

HSR 912 at Sanford Yard on September 17, 1977.

HSR 912 at Sanford Yard on September 17, 1977. (Photo by Peter Cox, used with permission. From Barp.ca)

HSR 952 at Sanford Yard.

HSR 952 and HSR 775 at Sanford Yard, date unknown. (Photo by Bob Hussey, used with permission. From Esbdave's Fotki Page)

HSR 981 at Sanford Yard, date unknown.

HSR 981 at Sanford Yard, date unknown. (Photo by Bob Hussey, used with permission. From Esbdave's Fotki Page)

Sources

Mills, John M. Cataract Traction; The Railways of Hamilton. Toronto: Upper Canada Railway Society/Ontario Electric Railway Historical Association, 1971

Porter, C. J. "Car Shop and Garage is of Latest Design" Electric Railway Journal Vol 71, No. 26 (June 30, 1928): pg 1068-1072