Charleville, The Square and Railway Station

Our postcard, dating from around 1905, is by French card producers Lévy Fils et Cie, of 44 Rue Letellier, Paris, and shows a tram in Charleville, the park area known as Le Square and the railway station. Charleville, officially Charleville-Mézières since 1966, is a commune in the Grand Est region of northern France and is the capital of the Ardennes Département. It is situated on a bendy section of the River Meuse, Charleville on one side, Mézières (and Mahon) on the other.

At the time of building the tramway, the town had a population of about 30,000. A concession was given by the Département to the Compagnie Générale de Traction who officially opened the tramway on 6th January 1900, although actual service may have started a month earlier. It was about 9km in length and was metre gauge with overhead wire current collection. There were eleven motor cars like the one on our postcard and also three trailers which appear to have been little used. There were three routes, Charleville Station to Cemetery (Faubourg de Flandre), Charleville Station to Mézières (Faubourg de Pierre) and Charleville, Place du Moulinet to Mohon.

In August 1914 the area was occupied by invading German troops and the public tramway ceased operation. The Germans themselves briefly operated the tramway in Charleville for their own military purposes at a charge of five Pfennigs a ride under the title of Tramway du Grand Quartier Générale, the German GHQ being in Charleville. No tram service resumed after the war, the centre of Mézières being destroyed, the Meuse bridges were down and the tramway and trams badly damaged. Motor buses replaced the trams, initially temporarily, but this small and short lived tramway was never rebuilt.

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