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The Last Tram to Run in Croydon 7th April 1951

Horse-drawn trams were first introduced into Croydon in October 1879. Electric trams replaced them in 1901 and these in turn were scrapped in 1951 in favour of petrol-driven buses. Trams were not seen again in Croydon until the opening of Croydon Tramlink in May 2000.  The last day of the original tram service is described in the following newspaper article:

Cheering crowds see last of the trams - Croydon Advertiser 13th April 1951

The trams, which had been such a familiar feature of Croydon and Purley for so many years, went off the road at midnight on Saturday in a blaze of glory. Crowds of people lined the road between Purley depot and Thornton Heath Pond as the last of the trams, proudly defiant and dressed over all in coloured bunting with wreaths fore and aft, rumbled along the track.

The crowds cheered and waved - older people as a grateful gesture for over 70 years of unflagging and unfailing service, younger people to herald another spoke in the wheel of progress. The drivers of the latest limousines sounded their hooters in farewell: crews of passing oil buses waved their tributes. Above it all could be heard the sound of a post horn.

The horse-drawn trams, forerunners of the electrically driven vehicles were not forgotten. At South End two horses were `harnessed' to the tram by means of tapes passed from the top deck to the riders, and they `drew' it through the centre of the town to West Croydon station.

It was not an uneventful journey for the passengers who had paid 5s. for the privilege of travelling on this last run. Apart from the sight of cheering crowds standing in the rain to wave to them, they were frequently jolted when the tram came to a sudden stop. It was not that the crowds were getting in the way, but that the Mayor of Croydon (Ald. M.R. Stacey) and the MP for Croydon North (Mr. Fred Harris), were finding that driving a tram is not the simple operation it would seem. The Mayor got better as the run progressed and he brought it along the last stretch to Thornton Heath Pond like a veteran. It was fitting that he should be in control of this last tram because he is one of those who remember them when they were drawn by horses.

At the Pond the crowd was denser than it had been anywhere along the route. As the tram pulled up in Brigstock Road, sightseers clambered aboard searching for souvenirs and some obliging passengers handed seats out to them from the top deck.

Somebody cut the rope attached to the trolley arm, with the result that there was considerable delay before the tram could start on its trip to the scrap yard at Woolwich....


Judging by their first week of operation, the new buses that have replaced the trams appear to be coping satisfactorily with rush-hour traffic.

It was feared at first that the buses' smaller carrying capacity might leave travellers waiting at the stops, but there have been few complaints....Motorists report that progress is now much easier in the main thoroughfares.


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Tuesday, 1 December, 2015


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