Posts Tagged ‘tramway’

Wantage Tramway

January 24, 2016

A look through old photos can find forgotten items – not just the photo forgotten but also much about the time and place when it was taken. I recently came upon a photo I took in the year 2000.


This building clearly had something to do with the Wantage Tramway Co Ltd and dates from 1904.

I remember going to Wantage but had completely forgotten this building. Having ‘discovered’ the photo I thought I ought to find out something about the Wantage Tramway.

It seems the nearest main line station was a couple of miles away and known as Wantage Road. The tramway was built to link the centre of town with the railway. It opened in 1875. The original motive power was four legged – the horse.

The little line prospered and went over to steam traction in the late 1870s.

Lives and habits change and by 1925 the passenger service was no longer making money and it was shut down although a freight service continued until 1945 when it was decided to close the tramway entirely, rather than spend what was needed to renovate the track.

My photo shows the company headquarters which were built during the time of plenty for the line. It survives in situ. One of the line’s steam locos has escaped the cutter’s torch and can usually be seen at Didcot which is not so far away.

The Seaton Tramway

December 6, 2015

Once upon a time a proper branch line railway linked the Devon seaside town of Seaton with the mainline between Exeter and Salisbury at the aptly named Seaton Junction Station. The whole line fell a victim to Doctor Beeching’s plan in 1966 (But blame politicians. Dr Beeching just did the job he was asked to do).

Part of the line reopened as a narrow gauge electric tramway in 1970. It now runs from Seaton to Colyton a length of about 3 miles.

Back in 2009 I was able to redeem a lovely birthday present when my wife and I stayed near Seaton and spent a day enjoying the trams.


Here’s tram 11 at the Seaton terminus. I think this tram was just a couple of years old at the time.

Much of the journey is by the River Exe


After a walk at Colyford we continued to Colyton, finding seats upstairs on tram number 9



On our return we passed tram 12. That’s a 1966 tram and now has the general shape, at 50% scale, of a 1930s Feltham tram.


The trams advertise themselves as mobile bird hides.

Back at Seaton we encountered tram 2 – a 1964 model.


We rode this tram back to Colyton and got a front seat – magic.


At Colyton we enjoyed a tramway cream tea – well, it was a treat day.


Riding the tram is a grand way to see the local scenery. And of course it is a real experience as well.



A Granite Railway Wagon

July 5, 2013

A few months ago I featured the Haytor tramway (click here). On a visit to Devon last month I saw the sort of vehicle that used to operate on that tramway.

The location was Parke – a National Trust property at Bovey Tracey. You quite often seem to find open fronted barns at these properties and they contain various carts and wagons. The one at Parke has these things and amongst them is a granite rail or tramway wagon.


One of the first things you might notice is that the wheels are not flanged. That’s because the rails – made out of lengths of granite are flanged. The wheels sit on one ledge on the blocks and inside the wheelbase, the rails are stepped up. The wagon can’t fall off the rails.

The wagon is of a simple and sturdy construction, suited to carrying hefty slabs of granite, probably downhill ffrom a quarry to a waterway for shipment elsewhere.

This wagon was not used on the Haytor line (It has the wrong wheels) – but I can let the explanation board do its job.


This truck was as much a chance find for me as it was for the person who found it in the hedgebank between Newton Abbot and Shaldon. I do hope that was a real ‘oh wow’ moment for the finder.



March 23, 2013

Haytor is on Dartmoor in Devon.

My first ever trip out of the south east of England was in 1961. It took me, with family, to Dartmoor, but I didn’t discover Haytor on that occasion.

Haytor was found by me in the early 1980s on a family holiday with my children. We were ambling on Dartmoor when I realised I was going along what looked like a pair of tracks laid deliberately and shaped so that wagons, with ordinary wheels, would stay on course.


It was a railway – the Haytor granite tramway.

We found a junction.


I was enthralled for I knew nothing of this line, or its history. If you want to know a lot about this line then try . I’ll just say it was built in 1820 to get the classy local granite down to a canal. So, high up on the moor there is the quarry where the granite was extracted.

I visited again in 1996. It really hadn’t changed – although I had abandoned the old Canon Demi camera and was using a basic Canon with colour print film


Those who note a line of shaped granite rails and say, ‘so what?’ surely would still be impressed by another natural sculpture – the outcrop of rock or tor on Haytor.