Horse & Steam Trams of Britain
Publisher: Nostalgia Road
With the successful arrival of the horse tram in the British Isles as a result of George Francis Train’s work in Birkenhead and London, there was a boom in the provision of horse and later steam trams in Britain following the passing of the Tramways Act in 1870. Horse trams were to be found in many of the most important towns and cities of the country, providing links between the urban centres and the rapidly growing leafy suburbs. In major cities, fleet of several hundred horse trams plied their trade with operators employing thousands of horses.
The horse tram, however, was not ideal in many of the hillier towns and cities of the realm and, from the mid-1880s, a new form of propulsion arrived in the guise of the steam tram. With the introduction of steam trams in Huddersfield in 1885 a further revolution occurred when the country gained its first municipally-operated system; prior to that date tramway operators had been exclusively company operated but it soon became an object of local pride to see the borough’s coat of arms on the side of new trams. The reign of the horse and steam tram was, however, destined to be relatively short-lived as a new means of propulsion — electricity — was soon to arrive but whilst the steam tram disappeared, horse-power survived much longer; indeed, it is still possible to ride a horse-tram in the 21st century on the Isle of Man long the promenade at Douglas.
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