Bath Electric Tramways Ltd
S.G.- 2 Jan 1904 to 6 May 1939
|This section is based on Peter Davey’s and Paul Welland’s book “Bath Tramways” – a photographic record of the period 1904-1939. Both words and pictures used are derived from it as extracts and summaries. The book contains 120 photographs of which minimised and simplified versions are used on this page, apart from the one full sized picture below, in the shape of animated slide shows – the full size photographs are available in the book.
The first horse tram service began in 1880 and consisted of only one route, which started from the GWR Station. It ran via Southgate Street, High Street and Walcot to Grosvenor. The horse stables and depot were situated at the rear of the Porter Butt Hotel, London Road.
On 2nd January 1904, electric traction began using the standard gauge of four feet eight and a half inches/1435mm. To get the tramway up and running, R.D.McCarter, an American, was appointed as the Company’s first General Manager and Engineer. His duties were taken over in 1908 by W.E.Hardy. There were 40 cars in total of Milnes’ construction: 1-34 double deck and 50-55 single deck. The latter were often known as whippets. Cars 1-18 and 50-51 were used for the opening, and the remaining trams were delivered in August of the same year. The reason for the six single deck cars being ordered was to enable trams to run under the low railway bridge in Westmoreland Road on the route to Oldfield Park.
Unusually for a city layout, there were two different one-way systems. One was relatively simple, being out via Broad Street and in via Walcot Street. The other amazingly ran around the city centre in an anti-clockwise manner from Dorchester Street, GWR Station, Guildhall/Abbey and back through Cheap Street, Stall Street and Southgate Street.
The service ceased on Saturday, 6th May 1939 with Car 22 doing the honours. Driven by the Mayor, Captain Adrian Hopkins, and assisted by Chief Inspector Hale at the helm, she left promptly from the Guildhall at midnight with one hundred passengers on board. Special tickets were issued and put in souvenir wallets. Sadly, she made history by becoming the last passenger car to operate, fighting the crowds on the way back to the only depot, in Walcot Street. Nearly all the trams were broken up at the Glasshouse sidings opposite St. Martin’s Hospital, Midford Road, with the remainder being scrapped at the depot.
Luckily the depot survives today, used as a market on Saturdays and a car park dnring the week. Apart from this building, little remains to remind us of a once well maintained fleet and an efficient service that crossed the city so faithfully for 35 years.
Electric tram routes
The routes were as follows –
Top Deck View
Bath Reference Library
In 1925 we see Car 15 turning into Westgate Buildings. This gives a good view of the deck seating layout and shows that the seats situated on the canopy above the motorman were designed for three passengers. At the top of the staircase was the Company’s permanent advert which read
The shop on the corner A.H.Barnes is now the Bottoms Up Wine Store and that on the right the Pizza Hut.
Also see our other pages on Electric Transport in the South West