November 2003 was the centenary of the opening of the tramways in Colne in Lancashire. The postcard, showing one of the trams in Colne's Albert Road, was published by the Stationery Company of Skipton. Our copy was posted on 19th July 1905, but probably dates from about a year earlier.
Although built under a Light Railway Order to a 4-foot gauge (the same gauge as the surrounding tramways in Nelson, Burnley, Blackburn and Accrington) and apart from small sections of reserved track on the Trawden route, the system was a street tramway. The first section opened on 28th November 1903 and ran from the depot at Heifer Lane down Keighley Road and Market Street through the centre of Colne and out along Albert Road as far as Queen Street. The section from there via Burnley Road to the Nelson boundary opened two days later. The Park Hotel in Trawden was reached by a line from the depot down Skipton Road, opened on 22nd January 1904. Opening a route along Heifer Lane and Keighley Road to Emmott Lane in the village of Laneshawbridge in December 1904 and an extension of the Trawden route further into that town to Lane House Lane in December 1905 completed the system, bringing it to a length of five and a quarter miles.
In its lifetime the tramway had some 18 cars, initially needing 12. The tram in our view, probably car 3, is one of the first batch of cars numbered 1-6. They were open-top with 22 seats on the lower deck and 28 on the upper, and were built in 1903 by Milnes. The 4-wheel trucks were also by Milnes (replaced by "21E" type trucks from 1914), having two GE 58-6T 28 horsepower motors controlled by BTH B-16 controllers. The cars received Milnes Voss open balcony top covers in 1911. The livery was not as shown on our postcard, but was light green and cream before 1914, royal blue and cream until 1923 and then maroon and cream.
Through running with the Nelson tramways began in 1911 but prior to this, passengers had to change trams at the boundary. The Colne & Trawden company was sold to Colne Corporation on 24th March 1914. Standroyd depot, built next to the original depot in Heifer Lane, was opened in November 1919. By the mid-1920s bus competition and declining track condition prompted closures. On 19th October 1926 Laneshawbridge went, followed by Colne to Trawden on 3rd June 1928. From 1st April 1933 control of the remaining tramway was passed to the Burnley, Colne & Nelson Joint Tramway Committee and Colne cars numbers were given a "C" suffix, but these changes did not prevent the last trams, together with those of Nelson, running on 6th January 1934.
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