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....
NEW BUSES ARE COPING WELL
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.