Leeds nostalgia: Trams powered by horse, steam and electricity all ran at the same time in Leeds in late 1800s

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TRansport is much in the news of late, especially when it comes to Leeds, with many of our readers calling for a return to the days of trams.

Therefore, this week we present two pictures taken from the publication Changing Leeds, an insert which was published in the Yorkshire Evening Post in July 1970 (although the pictures go back much further than that).

The top picture shows the first electric tramcar to arrive in Rodley. It caused quite a stir, with officials and locals turning out so the moment could be captured for posterity. In the background is the Three Horseshoes pub, which was renamed as Rodley Barge some years before 1970.

The lower picture shows steam-powered tramcars operating between 1877 and 1894 on the Oakwood route out of Leeds centre.

Horse drawn trams were operating in the city from 1871, in which year conductors were told to “keep a sharp lookout up every side street” for potential customers.

Steam cars came in 1877 and electric trams in 1891 - there was a period where all three modes of transport were in operation at the same time.

The Leeds Tramways Company operated services until 1894, when it was bought wholesale by Leeds Corporation. At that time, there were 45 horse trams and 400 horses, and 25 steam trams.

Prior to 1914, tram services ran to Guiseley, Pudsey, Morley, Rothwell and Wakefield. However, Wakefield’s tracks were of a different gauge to the ones in Leeds and so cars had to be adapted to be able to move smoothly between them. A report in the YEP from the time suggests this cross-over took place in Stanningley.

Meanwhile, trolleybuses ran from 1911 to 1928, at first to Farnley and later to Guiseley and Otley and out as far as Burley-in-Wharfedale.

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