Trams in Kingston upon Hull

Trams in Kingston upon Hull
Plan of the Hull tram system.

The Kingston upon Hull tramway network was a network of 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) tram lines following the five main roads radially out of the city centre of Kingston upon Hull, England. Two of these lines went west, and two east. The fifth went to the north, and branched to include extra lines serving suburban areas. Additionally a short line linked the city centre to the Corporation Pier where a ferry crossed the Humber estuary to New Holland, Lincolnshire.

The early tramway system was worked from 1876 by horse power by the Hull Street Tramways company, except on the eastwards Hedon Road route which was operated by steam power from the outset by the Drypool and Marfleet Steam Tramways Company after 1899. Both companys were acquired by the city council in the final years of the 19th century, and the routes electrified and converted to double track, and operated as a municipal concern.

The City of Hull Tramways (later known as the Corporation Tramways) expanded the electrified tram network along the main roads of Hull up to 1927 when the tram system reached its greatest size.

Between 1937 and 1945 the system was converted to trolleybus operation. The Hull trolleybus system worked on the same paths as tram system, with the exception of the Hedon Road and Corporation Pier branches which became diesel bus operated. Later, all trolleybus services were replaced with diesel powered buses.



Hull Street Tramways

In 1871, soon after the Tramways act of 1870 became law, permission was sought from the board of Kingston upon Hull to construct a tram system in the town. The scheme was backed by Major Trevenen James Holland and the scheme received the support of the local board, despite problems due to narrow streets in the old town - making double track running difficult as well as causing opposition from the landowning Trinity House.[1] In 1872 the construction was authorised by a local act of parliament,[2] allowing the construction by the Continental & General Tramways Company of several tram lines in Hull centred on the town centre, including two westward lines along Anlaby and Hessle Road, a line northeastward along Holderness Road, a line roughly westnorthwest along Spring bank, and a short line running southwards from the city centre to the old town to Nelson Street close to the Victoria Pier.[1]

On 9 January 1875 the tram route to Beverley Road was opened, and, in November 1876 the Hull Street Tramways Company (incorporated 1875) acquired the partially constructed tramway system from the Continental & General Tramways Co..[3] The Spring Bank route opened in 1876, the lines along Hessle Road, Anlaby Road, Holderness Road and the line through the old town were all open by 1877.[2] The tram system was horse operated, approximately 9 miles long, and mostly single tracked.[2] The company operated a fleet of around 30 vehicles, initially single deck vehicles, later double deck horse drawn trailers were used, some with a capacity of over 40 persons.[4][5][6] In 1882 over 30,000 passengers per week were being carried; most areas could be reached from the city centre for a fare of 1d.[3]

The company had three depots,[7][8] on Hessle Road (near Regent Street),[n 1] Temple Street,[n 2] and at Jesmond Gardens.[n 3]

The tram company was in competition with wagonettes, omnibuses and hackney carriages, though ridership and income was good,[3] accidents were common, including some resulting in the amputation of limbs of passengers, or even their death, for which the company was liable to provide considerable compensation.[10] Damage to tracks caused by the harsh winter of 1886/7, falling income, and rising infrastructure costs, and other circumstances beyond the control of the company,[n 4] led to the company being liquidated in 1889; the eastward route to Holderness Road was sold to the Drypool and Marfleet Steam Tramways Company in 1891.[11][clarification needed]

In 1895 an agreement for the Hull Corporation to purchase the company was reached - the price being £12,500; the undertaking was temporarily leased to W. Nettleton from 18 October of the same year.[11] By November 1896 the decision had been made to run the tram system as a municipal enterprise, and the decision was made to convert it to an electric tram system.[12]

Drypool and Marfleet Steam Tramways Company

The Hull Street Tramways scheme had included a route east from the city centre along Hedon Road, but this did not form part of the final Act. In 1885 the Drypool and Marfleet Steam Tramways Company was formed by local individuals including F.B. Grotrian. After negotiations with the Hull Corporation, which required the new company to provide a deposit of £500 per mile, and to contribute up to £500 towards the costs of any bridges along the route requiring widening, the bill for the new line was submitted in 1886.[13]

By 1889 a section of track from Great Union Street to Hedon Road, going as far as the junction with Lee Smith Street had been completed,[n 5] and opened for traffic. The tramway was originally intended to extend as far as the outlying village of Marfleet; extension beyond Lee Smith Street were delayed, and in 1892 the company sought to rescind from its original obligations; the maximum extent of the line was to just beyond the Holderness Drain on Hedon Road,[13] a short branch to Drypool Bridge was also later built.[6]

The company used 2 axle steam locomotives built by Thomas Green & Son; the vehicles. which each cost £500 were fitted with apparatus enabling them to 'consume their own smoke',[13] and had the wheels encased for safety.[14] They drew double decker bogie carriages, seating 32 at ground level and 42 on the upper level; the upper and lower decks were enclosed.[4][13] The company's depot was at Hotham Street off Hedon Road.[n 6][6]

The line was single tracked with passing loops, a fare of 1d was charged for all journeys.[13]

In 1899 the Hull Corporation (having acquired authority to construct an electric tramway in 1896) bought the Drypool and Marfleet Steam Tramways Company for £15,500. The system was operated under lease whilst the new electric tramsystem was under construction.[13] By 1901 only two of the locomotives were still in operation, and the last steam tram ran on 13 January 1901 - the Hedon Road line was served by wagonettes until the electric tramway was opened in 1903.[12][15]

Hull Corporation trams

The Hull Corporation acquired the Hull Street Tramways in 1895 and an agreement had been made to purchase the Drypool and Marfleet Steam Tramways Company in 1894,[11] (the company was purchased in 1899). In 1896 the corporation got permission from Parliament to construct and operated an electric tram system, and to get loans of £300,000 in funding.[15] The company was initially known as the City of Hull Tramways until 1919, from then until 1931 the name Corporation Tramways was used, followed by Hull Corporation Transport until 1945.[16][n 7]

Expansion of tram system and infrastructure (1898–1927)
Centre grove tram tracks, with diagonal rail joint (Hull 2011)

The official ceremony of laying of the first rail took place on 9 June 1898. Siemens supplied electrical equipment, the rails were from Société Anonyme des Aciéries d'Angleur (Belgium),[12] and were an unusual centre groove profile which was supposed to wear better,[12] and give a smoother ride with rail joints cut at a diagonal angle,[17] additionally only one point blade was required for points with the centre groove system.[12] The tram wheels had a corresponding centre flange.[17] The lines were constructed as double track.[6]

For the new system a main depot with workshop facilities was built at Liverpoool Street[n 8] on the Hessle Road route as well as a depot on Wheeler Street on the Anlaby Road route.[n 9][4][15] A depot with facilities for track maintennce was on Stepney Lane (Beverely Road route) was also opened in 1898,[15][n 10] a street further north of the earlier Temple Street horse tram depot.

By 1899 an electric power plant in Osborne Street[n 11] supplying power to the tram system was operational and trams began running on Anlaby and Hessle Road on 5 July 1899.[15] By 1900 lines along Holderness Road, Spring Bank (and an extension along Princes Avenue), and Beverley Road had been opened.[15]

Further extensions took place in the 1900s; by 1903 the City Centre-Spring Bank-Princes Ave. system had been extended along Newland Avenue, the Holderness Road route extended as far as Aberdeen Street on reserved track in the central reservation of the road, and new electric tram services to Victoria Pier and along Hedon Road had been opened, and depots constructed on the eastward Holderness and Hedon routes.[18][19][20] In 1909 a new depot on Cottingham Road took over from the Stepney lane depot for vehicle storage.[n 12][18][20]

In the 1910s the Hedon Road service was extended to Marfleet,[20] and a line along Spring Bank West created as far as Walton Street (the site of the Hull Fair), the Hessle Road route extended on a central reserved track to Pickering Park.[20] Further extensions were added in the 1920s; the Holderness Road section was extended to Ings road, the Anlaby road section extended to Pickering Road both on reserved track. Additionally a line was completed from Beverley Road along Cottingham Road to its end at Hall Road, and another line constructed along Chanterlands Avenue from Spring Bank West to Cottingham Road; by 1927 the tram system had reached its maximum extent, at 20.48 mi (32.96 km).[21][22]

A number of level crossings with the North Eastern Railway's Victoria Dock Branch Line and the line westwards out of Hull Paragon station caused delays to the trams.[23] The crossings required catch points for the trams and interlocking with the railway signalling system. In 1925, the Corporation, Ministry of Transport and the NER's successor the London and North Eastern Railway proposed to eliminate the level crossings at a cost of £1¼ million, but no work was done until the 1960s.[23] The last improvement to infrastructure came in 1931 with the building of the North Bridge in the town centre allowing trams to cross over the river Hull avoding the narrow Drypool bridge.[23]

Withdrawal of tram service (1931–1945)

In 1930 the electric power station on Osborne Street was closed; afterwards the electricity supply for the trams was purchased from the Hull City Corporation's own electricity supply, in 1931 the tram service to Victoria Pier was replaced with a motorbus service.[24]

In 1934 the city of Hull transport corporation entered into a cooperation agreement with East Yorkshire Motor Services (EYMS); services were divided into three areas: Hull City, its suburbs, and the surrounding countryside; revenues for services were split between the two companies irrespective of service provider - the City transport company received revenues from the city area, whilst EYMS received the revenues for service outside Hull, revenues in the suburbs were split between the two. As a consequence it became uneconomic to operate the outlying tram routes; services on most of the routes built in the 1920s were replaced by bus services.[n 13][6][25]

In 1936 the construction of a trolleybus system was authorised; with the exception the Hedon road route which was replaced by a motorbus service the remaining tram routes were replaced by trolleybus operation between 1936 and 1945.[24][n 14] The final tram ran on 30 June 1945; the journey celebrated by the tram being illuminated by 800 lights, accompanied by local grandees and with several tens of thousands of local people along the path.[27]

The Wheeler Street, Cottingham Road, Liverpool Street and Aberdeen Street depots were re-used for the trolley buses. Further extension of the trolleybus system were proposed and authorised but none were built.[28]


Fifteen trams were acquired in 1898, and another thirty in 1899; these trams were open top dual deck vehicles. By 1901 one hundred trams had been acquired; 25 of these were originally trailer vehicles, intended to be pulled by powered trams, which had been later motorised. By 1915 the number of trams had reached its maximum of 180.[29] The trams were numbered sequentially from 1 to 180.

All the vehicles were 2 axle bogieless designs with the exception of the original Tram number 101 which had a double bogie. No.101 was sold in 1916 to Erith Urban District Council.[6][30] It was replaced by another Tram 101 delivered in 1923 which was an experimental design designed by the company's manager E S Rayner with cardan shaft drive to split axles via a differential.[6][31][32]

The early trams had open upper decks, a form of roll top retractable cover, known as the 'Kennington roof' was trialled on the roofless trams in 1904; these were not totally successful, and fixed roofs were installed from 1906 onwards. From 1919 the drivers positions and the balcony's of the upper decks began to be enclosed.[30]

Electrical equipment came from Siemens or Westinghouse for most vehicles; trams built up to 1930 had two 25 hp (19 kW) electric motors, later trams had two motors of between 33 to 42 hp (25 to 31 kW).[33][34]

Car number Cover type Build year Manufacturer Seat capacity Notes
1-15 Open top 1898 Milnes 22/29 Given short canopy covers between 1905-9
16-25 1899 22/29
26-30 Brill 22/29
31-60 1900 Brush 22/29
61-65 ER&TCW 22/31
66-90 Milnes 22/29 Delivered as trailers built 1898-9 numbered 101-125, bodies mounted on motorised truck after 1900 and renumbered, later given upper deck covers
91-100 1901 Hurst Nelson 22/31 Later given short canopy covers. No. 96 converted to a single deck snowplow and works vehicle in 1933.
101 Open top 1900 Milnes 39/30 Bogie tram, short upper deck cover added 1909, sold in 1916
101 Enclosed 1923 English Electric 42/24
102-116 Covered, open balcony 1903 Milnes 22/29 Initially open topped, converted with covered tops before entering service. A second number 113 was built in 1925 at Liverpool Street depot; it was a fully enclosed vehicle, and the last tram built for the system
117-122 1909 United Electric Car Co. 36/22 Fitted with covered balcony between 1916-9
123-136 1909/10 Hull City Tramways 36/22 Built at Liverpool Street Works,[n 8] with Siemens electrical equipment
137-160 1912 Brush 34/22 Fitted with covered balcony between 1916-9
161-180 Covered with vesitibule 1915 40/22
Sources :[33][34]

Heritage and remnants

Centre groove rail at former Wheeler Street depot (Anlaby Road entrance)

As of 2010 Tram number 132 is on display at the Streetlife Museum of Transport in Hull,[35] Tram number 96 is preserved and modified as a single deck vehicle at the Heaton Park Tramway, Manchester[36]

In 2011 short section of track has survived at the Anlaby Road entrance to the former Wheeler Street Depot,[n 9] additionally the offices of the Cottingham Road depot,[n 12] and the original horse tram depot at Jesmond Gardens, Holderness Road are still extand.[n 3]

At the town outskirts the reserved track sections were built on a central reservation; these sections on Anlaby, Holderness, Hessle and Beverley Road[19] were converted to dual carriageways; the tram sections now form part of a wide central grass section between the carriageways.[37]

See also

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  1. ^ a b Hull Trams : The Early Years, "Chapter 2: The Continental & General Tramways Company"
  2. ^ a b c d "Public services : Public transport". A History of the County of York East Riding: Volume 1: The City of Kingston upon Hull. 1969. pp. 371–386. Retrieved 1 March 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c Hull Trams : The Early Years, "Chapter 3: The Hull Street Tramways Company"
  4. ^ a b c Kingston upon Hull City Transport : A Short History Of 90 Years Service 1899 to 1989, p.7
  5. ^ Road Transport in Hull and East Yorkshire, "Horse Drawn Vehicles"
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Hull Tramways, (introduction) "Historical Background"
  7. ^ Hull Trams : The Early Years, "Chapter 5 : The Drypool and Marfleet Steam Tramways Company", see map "Street Tramways in Hull 1895"
  8. ^ Kingston Upon Hull Corporation Transport : A Brief History
  9. ^ "Holderness Road (East) : Conservation Area Character Appraisal". Hull City Council. 2004. 17. Buildings of Historic Townscape Value. 
  10. ^ Hull Trams : The Early Years, "Chapter 4 : Different attitudes and the trams"
  11. ^ a b c d Hull Trams : The Early Years, "Chapter 6, Financial Crisis"
  12. ^ a b c d e Hull Trams : The Early Years, "Chapter 7, Kingston upon Hull Corporation Tramways (a brief account)"
  13. ^ a b c d e f Hull Trams : The Early Years, "Chapter 5, The Drypool and Marfleet Steam Tramways Company"
  14. ^ The Tramways of South Yorkshire and Humberside, p.52, centre image
  15. ^ a b c d e f KHCT : An Illustrated History of Kingston upon Hull City Transport 1899-1970, Chronology 1875-1901, p.4
  16. ^ a b Road Transport in Hull and East Yorkshire, chapter "A History of Hull Corporation Transport"
  17. ^ a b The Tramways of South Yorkshire and Humberside, p.9
  18. ^ a b Kingston upon Hull City Transport : A Short History Of 90 Years Service 1899 to 1989, p.8
  19. ^ a b The Tramways of South Yorkshire and Humberside, p.53, see map
  20. ^ a b c d KHCT : An Illustrated History of Kingston upon Hull City Transport 1899-1970, Chronology 1903-1914, p.6
  21. ^ KHCT : An Illustrated History of Kingston upon Hull City Transport 1899-1970, Chronology 1915-1929, pp.10-12
  22. ^ Kingston upon Hull Trolleybuses, "1: The Tramway Era", pp.13-16
  23. ^ a b c The Tramways of South Yorkshire and Humberside, pp.10-11
  24. ^ a b c d KHCT : An Illustrated History of Kingston upon Hull City Transport 1899-1970, Chronology 1930-1946, pp.14-22
  25. ^ Kingston upon Hull Trolleybuses, "3: Trolleybuses for Trams", pp.21-31
  26. ^ KHCT : An Illustrated History of Kingston upon Hull City Transport 1899-1970, route maps, 1931 & 1960, pp.48-9
  27. ^ Hull Trams : The Early Years, "Epilogue"
  28. ^ Kingston upon Hull Trolleybuses, Map, inside back cover, also see contents for further details
  29. ^ Hull Tramways, "Rolling Stock Electric Trams", images 84-104
  30. ^ a b Kingston upon Hull City Transport : A Short History Of 90 Years Service 1899 to 1989, pp.9-10
  31. ^ Hull Tramways, image 98
  32. ^ KHCT : An Illustrated History of Kingston upon Hull City Transport 1899-1970, p.11, "Car 101"
  33. ^ a b KHCT : An Illustrated History of Kingston upon Hull City Transport 1899-1970, "Rolling Stock Summary", p.34
  34. ^ a b The Tramways of South Yorkshire and Humberside, "City of Hull Tramways", p.43
  35. ^ "Hull City Council  : Gallery Information". Hull City Council. Public Transport Gallery.,95655&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL. 
  36. ^ "Tramway Company". Manchester City Council. 
  37. ^ Road Transport in Hull and East Yorkshire, "Hull and the Tram"


  • Hull Trams : The Early Years. Kingston upon Hull City Museum. 1977.  (possibly also printed under the title, or a work of similar scope "Hull Trams : The Early Days")
  • W.H. Bett; J.C. Gilham. J.H. Price. ed. The Tramways of South Yorkshire and Humberside. Light Railway Transport League. ISBN 0900433582. 
  • Paul Morfitt; Malcolm Wells (2005). Robert J Harley. ed. Hull Tramways. Middleton Press. ISBN 1904474608. 
  • KHCT : An Illustrated History of Kingston upon Hull City Transport 1899-1970. Kingston upon Hull City Transport. 1979. 
  • Tony Dickson (1990). Kingston upon Hull City Transport : A Short History Of 90 Years Service 1899 to 1989. Local History Archives Unit, Hull College of Further Education. ISBN 187001591. 
  • Philip C. Miles (1988). Road Transport in Hull and East Yorkshire. Hendon Publishing Co. Ltd.. 
  • Malcolm Wells (1996). Kingston upon Hull Trolleybuses. Trolleybooks. ISBN 0904235173. 
  • Kingston Upon Hull Corporation Transport : A Brief History, alternative sources :

Notes and map references

  1. ^ 53°44′15″N 0°21′21″W / 53.737432°N 0.35572°W / 53.737432; -0.35572 Hessle Road near Regent St (See 1890s Ordnance Survey maps). The site was not used after electrification, and later the location was used for a municipal bath house, Regent Street no longer exists being replaced by Rawling Way.
  2. ^ 53°45′28″N 0°20′50″W / 53.75785°N 0.347169°W / 53.75785; -0.347169 Temple Street, off Beverley Road. Site not used for trams after electrification.
  3. ^ a b 53°45′22″N 0°18′31″W / 53.756161°N 0.308549°W / 53.756161; -0.308549 No.1 Jesmond Gardens. As of 2004 the 1882 depot building is still standing.[9] The depot was accessed by a direct route off Holderness Road parallel to Jesmond Gardens, and not from the street itself. Not used after electrification.
  4. ^ A fire at the Hessle Road depot, rises in the cost of horse feed, complaints by the Hull Corporation on the state of the track leading to a legal prosecution.[11]
  5. ^ The line went as far as the newly constructed (1885) Alexandra Dock which was then at the outskirts of the town.
  6. ^ 53°44′56″N 0°18′22″W / 53.748765°N 0.306015°W / 53.748765; -0.306015 The depot was connected by a short branch along Hotham Street, which was disconnected from the system by the 1900s, the site later became an electricity substation, as of 2010 the substation land retains the same boundaries as the depot.
  7. ^ After 1945 the transport company became Kingston upon Hull Corporation Transport, and after 1975 Kingston upon Hull City Transport or KHCT.[16]
  8. ^ a b 53°43′58″N 0°22′31″W / 53.732904°N 0.375352°W / 53.732904; -0.375352 Liverpool Street depot and works. (Demolished)
  9. ^ a b 53°44′33″N 0°23′06″W / 53.742405°N 0.384952°W / 53.742405; -0.384952 Wheeler Street tram depot, Anlaby Road route. (As of 2010 some of the ground plan and walls remain, mostly demolished)
  10. ^ 53°45′32″N 0°20′38″W / 53.758767°N 0.343921°W / 53.758767; -0.343921 Stepney Lane depot
  11. ^ 53°44′35″N 0°20′29″W / 53.743009°N 0.341404°W / 53.743009; -0.341404 Osborne Street electrical power plant, Closed 1930.[2] Built for exclusive use of the tram system.
  12. ^ a b 53°46′10″N 0°21′25″W / 53.769471°N 0.356838°W / 53.769471; -0.356838 Cottingham Road depot. As of 2010 the site boundaries remain, including some walls (west side), the plot has been used for a housing development; the office buildings at the entrance to Cottingham Road (west side) still exist, and are used as offices.
  13. ^ The Hessle and Anlaby road extensions were closed, also the Cottingham Road section from Chanterlands Avenue to Hall Road. The Chanterlands Avenue and remainder of the Cottingham Road services were also closed and operated by buses, later by trolley buses.[24]
  14. ^ The trolley bus system included the Newland Avenue and Chanterlands Avenue routes and parts of the Holderness Road, Anlaby Road, Hessle Road, Beverley Road and Cottingham Road routes.[24][26]

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