Taunton Electric Traction Co.

The Taunton Electric Traction Company adopted a 3ft. 6in. gauge and operated from 21 Aug 1901 to 28 May 1921.

Two Trams

This is the first photo located to date of two Taunton trams out together on the highway. The two trams are the Brush built double deck cars of 1901, the location is the Belvedere Road loop in Station Road looking north, and the date is between 1901 and 1905, probably around 1902.
Perhaps somewhere out there will be also a photo of two of the 1905 to 1921 Brush built single deck cars on a passing loop!
Many thanks are due to local historian and writer Nick Chipchase for locating this historic photograph used in his latest book.


Taunton Track Layout Taunton Tramways Advert
Conductor Bill

Seventeen year old conductor Bill stands next to his driver on the platform of a single deck tram at the East Reach Depot in 1917

The first horse drawn tram in this country was at Birkenhead in 1860 and was introduced by the American – George Train.

Steam tramways developed rapidly in the 1880’s, mainly in urban areaas. Blackpool was first with an electric tramway in 1885, using current collection from an underground conduit. This created problems with drifting sand from the beach and the system was eventually replaced with overhead collection. The Sheepscar to Oakwood tramway of 1891 in Leeds was the first system on the mainland with the now familiar overhead collection.

After a false start in 1897, Taunton’s tramway opened in August 1901 with six new Brush double deck cars during the high point in urban tramway construction in this country. As normal for smaller systems of that era in the south west, the track was of the 3ft 6in narrow gauge.


It started with the longest name in the country as the ‘Taunton & West Somerset Electric Railways and Tramways Company”. However, it was one of the shortest urban systems in length and was only the second electric tramway in this country to close.

After the abandonment of earlier grandiose schemes to cover much of western Somerset the name was shortened in 1903 to the “Taunton Electric Traction Co. Ltd”.

The original line ran from the depot and eastern terminus in East Reach via crossing loops at Grays Road, Haydon Road, Silver Street, Fore Street, North Street, Bridge Street and Belvedere Road to the northern terminus in Station Road. This was situated just to the south of the low bridge of the Great Western Railway main line.

Double Deck Carat East Reach Depot

Manager W.Smith, his wife and daughter on the top deck of double deck car No. 5 in 1905 shortly before it is dismantled for the journey to its newhome on the Leamington and Warwick system.

The Staff at East Reach Depot
Taunton Tramways staff pose for their photograph in front of three single deck cars at East Reach Depot
Double Deck Open Top Tram Car

Brush Double Deck Car Nos.1 to 6 1901 -1905

Single Deck Tram Car

Brush Single Deck Car Nos.1 to 6 1905 -1921

Open Top 4 Wheel Tram Car Single Deck 4 Wheel Tram Car
Click Here! Waiting at Terminus

Double Deck car No.4 of 1901 waits at the East Reach terminus on a summers day early in the 20th Century

Also see our other pages on Electric Transport in the South West