May 2004 marked the centenary of the opening of the electric tramways in the city of Leicester. The title on our postcard reads "Opening Ceremony, Leicester Electric Tram Cars, May 18th 1904", and shows the cars lined up ready for the parade. The card was published locally by H.Garner.
Trams in Leicester began some thirty years earlier, on the 24th December 1874, with horse cars operated by the Leicester Tramways Co. The Corporation took over the twelve miles of horse tramway on 1st July 1901 and then set about relaying the track and electrifying the system. On 18th May 1904, the first electric trams ran on the previously horse tram Belgrave Road and London Road routes, with a link from London Road to Humberstone road via Melbourne Road and a new route via London Road to Clarendon Park in the south.
The trams on our card were from the initial batch of 59 cars built in 1904 by the Electric Railway and Tramway Carriage Works Ltd. of Preston. They seated 22 on the lower deck and 34 on the upper. They ran on Brill 21E 4-wheel trucks with two Dick Kerr 25A 25 horse power motors controlled by Dick Kerr DB1 Form B controllers. The cars were painted dark crimson lake and cream. Later in 1904 an additional forty trams of a similar type were purchased for the new routes which were then opening.
The system continued to expand until the 1930s, by which time there were nearly 23 miles of track and 178 trams. From 1933 routes began to be closed and trams replaced by buses. There was a brief respite during World War 2, but post war closures recommenced with the last tram running on the Humberstone Road route on 9th November 1949.
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