Keighley Corporation

Keighley Corporation. Tram decorated for the Entente Cordiale

Keighley is a market town and a civil parish in West Yorkshire, England. It is situated on the River Worth between the scenic countryside of Airedale and the Haworth Moorland, which is associated with the Brontë sisters. It has a rich industrial and cultural heritage.

Our postcard by an unknown local publisher shows a decorated tram on 3rd September 1905 carrying a French delegation in connection with the Entente Cordiale, a series of agreements signed in 1904 between France and Britain which aimed to settle their colonial disputes and improve their diplomatic relations. The gentleman by the steps of the tram, with the bowler hat and umbrella, is Tramways Manager John Bamber. The card was sent on 25th September 1905 by "Beatrice" to her cousins in Providence, Rhode Island, USA, and tells them that the view is in Skipton Road, known as "the Sunday night promenade". Is the little girl on the right of the picture one of the original Railway Children? (filmed on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway).

The first tramway in Keighley was the 4ft gauge horse line of the Keighley Tramways Co. Ltd. who had just over two miles of route using eleven double-deck Starbuck trams. This was taken over by the Corporation who in 1904 electrified the tramway and increased its size to about three and a half miles serving Utley, Ingrow and Stockbridge, using ten open-top and two top-covered cars from the Brush Electrical Engineering Co. Ltd. of Loughborough. The depot was off South Street south of the town centre.

The decorated tram was one of the two new ones delivered in 1905 (9 or 10) and had a Brush 21E truck with two BTH GE58 35 horsepower motors and BTH B18 controllers. It seated 22 passengers on the lower-deck and 28 on the upper. The livery was crimson and white.

On 17th December 1924 the tramway closed and was replaced by trolleybuses making Keighley the first local authority to abandon its electric trams and also the first to replace them by trolleybuses. The trolleybuses lasted until 31st August 1932, themselves being replaced by motor buses.

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