Singapore Tram

Singapore Electric Tramways Limited

Our postcard from an unknown publisher is just titled "Suburb of Singapore", but in fact it is located in Upper Serangoon Road and shows Singapore Electric Tramways short crossbench car 12 in about 1910 on the single track there. The sign 'R' just visible in the front window means it is bound for Rochore.

The first Singapore tramway was that of the Singapore Tramways Company and ran between 3rd May 1886 and 1st June 1894 using 16 Kitson non-condensing 0-4-0 steam trams with double-deck trailers. It was metre gauge. After an initial success, this company failed and Singapore became tram-less for over ten years.

The metre gauge electric tramway was initially established by London based Singapore Tramways Ltd., soon to become the Singapore Electric Tramways Ltd. The lines opened on 25th July 1905. Tracks, mostly double but some roadside single, served Keppel Harbour, Tanjong Pagar, Johnston's Quay, Raffles Hotel, Geylang, Tank Road, Rochore, Rumah Miskin and Paya Lebar. The depot, generating station and offices were in Mackenzie Road. Trams were usually operated on three or four route combinations over a total of 15¾ miles. Initial passenger numbers were not good as the fares were considered high, but after an adjustment in fare structure it was a success.

Open-sided Car Singapore tramways are often considered similar to Hong Kong (British ownership etc.) not in the least being their first tramcars which were of the same general design and from the same manufacturer. There were thirty open-sided crossbench cars (right) and twenty combination cars (below left) built by the United Car Company of Preston (UEC), England in 1905 (views taken from their catalogue). As was common with most overseas customers, trams were delivered in a dismantled state and were assembled on site. The Hong Kong cars ordered one year earlier were almost the same except that they had clerestory roofs which the Singapore cars did not. (See Hong Kong Cross-bench and Combination tram postcards)

Combination Car Both types of tram were 29ft long and were mounted on 6ft 6in wheelbase Brill 21E trucks with two 25hp Dick, Kerr 25B motors, and were controlled by Dick, Kerr form C controllers. The livery was probably green and light cream. In around 1908, ten additional cross-bench cars were added to the fleet. These were about four feet shorter and had only seven side entrances instead of the usual ten. Car 12 in our postcard is one such tram. In 1923/24 a number of crossbench cars were rebuilt, enclosing the sides.

Freight Car The final items which entered service in 1905 were three motorised freight cars from UEC (right). These were mounted on two Brill 27G equal wheel bogies with similar electrical equipment to the other cars. UEC at the same time also supplied fifteen open goods wagons and fifteen closed vans of a railway type which could be pulled by the freight cars. These vehicles were for the use of a goods service which sadly never really took off.

Trolleybus By the 1920s bus competition was taking its toll and maintenance was urgently required to track, power supply and trams. In 1922 the company went into receivership and in 1923 was taken over by the Singapore Traction Co. with the intention of converting to trolleybuses. The first trolleybus ran on 14th August 1926 and on 4th September 1927 the last tram ran. By 1935 there were 108 AEC model 603 trolleybuses (left) on ten routes, ultimately rising to a maximum of sixteen routes covering 25 miles. Fifty new trolleybuses replaced the remainder of the old fleet in 1948, but like the trams the trolleybuses in their turn were ultimately phased out in favour of motor buses, the last running on 16th December 1962.

BackGo to Postcard Of The Month Index

Reload Home if you linked directly to this page

Postcard of the Month is created by John R. Prentice © Copyright 2017