Cheltenham and District Light Railway
Map of the Cheltenham and District Light Railway
Operation
LocaleCheltenham
Open22 August 1901
Close31 December 1930
StatusClosed
Infrastructure
Track gauge3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm)
Propulsion system(s)Electric
Statistics
Route length10.44 miles (16.80 km)

The Cheltenham and District Light Railway operated an electric tramway service in Cheltenham between 1901 and 1930.[1]

History

Construction began in February 1901 promoted by Nevins and Son. The work of construction involved around 120 men and a steam 'devil' used to break up the road surface.[2] Track was laid from Lansdown Castle to the south west of Cheltenham along Gloucester Road to the Calcutta Inn, St George’s Rd, St. George’s Place, St. James’ Square to the Great Western Railway station, Clarence Street, North Street, Albion Street, Winchcombe Street, Prestbury Road then through Prestbury and Southam to the top of Cleve Hill, a route of 5.5 miles (8.9 km). Electricity was drawn from the Corporation Electricity Company Manchester Street sub-station.

During construction two employees, Mr. Jackson and Mr. Wells, were killed on a test run when the brakes failed on Cleve Hill.[3] The initial line on the tramway was inspected by Colonel von Donop R.E on 15 August 1901.[4] Services started on the initial route from Lansdown to Cleeve Hill on 22 August 1901.[5]

The extension works to Charlton Kings and Leckhampton started in 28 September 1904[6] and were completed in April 1905 when they were inspected by Major J.W. Pringle of the Board of Trade.[7] The construction had involved 1,600 tons of granite setts from Scotland, up to 1,000 tons or rails from Leeds, electrification poles from Wednesbury, 15,500 yards of copper wire and 50 tons of fish-plates, tiebars and bolts. This produced 4.5 route miles of tramway of mixed single and double tracks. Eight new cars were obtained from British Thomson-Houston Co of Rugby. The extension cost around £60,000,equivalent to £6,490,400 in 2019)[8] of which £5,000 was the eight new tramcars.

The last surviving Cheltenham tram (No 21) is conserved by The Cheltenham Trust but not on public display. It was built by English Electric in Preston in 1921 but withdrawn from service in 1931 when the tram system was abandoned.

Routes were operated from Cheltenham Spa railway station to Cleeve Hill, Prestbury, Charlton Kings and Leckhampton.[9]

The depot was located 300m north of Cheltenham Spa railway station at SO 9327 2239.

Closure

As part of a programme of replacing the tramway services with buses, the final trams ran on 31 December 1930.

References

  1. ^ The Golden Age of Tramways. Published by Taylor and Francis.
  2. ^ "Cheltenham to Cleeve Tramway". Cheltenham Examiner. England. 21 August 1901. Retrieved 12 August 2020 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  3. ^ "Fatal Light Railway Smash". Witney Gazette and West Oxfordshire Advertiser. England. 3 August 1901. Retrieved 12 August 2020 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  4. ^ "Tramways Official Inspection, August 15th, 1901". Cheltenham Chronicle. England. 24 August 1901. Retrieved 12 August 2020 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  5. ^ "Cheltenham District Light Railway. Interesting Opening Ceremony". Cheltenham Chronicle. England. 24 August 1901. Retrieved 12 August 2020 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  6. ^ "Cheltenham Tramways Extension. Construction Commenced". Cheltenham Chronicle. England. 28 September 1904. Retrieved 12 August 2020 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  7. ^ "Cheltenham Tramways Extension". Cheltenham Chronicle. England. 1 April 1905. Retrieved 12 August 2020 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  8. ^ UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017). "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  9. ^ Kelly's Directory of Gloucestershire, 1914