Leeds nostalgia: Time travelling trams from Leeds

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More than 30 trams line up on the Lowfields Road track in March 1952, waiting for the crowds to come out from a Leeds United match at Elland Road. The track was laid especially for this reason.

At that time, tram travel was the main form of transport in Leeds, it having largely succeeded travel by horse-drawn stagecoaches, which only a hundred years earlier had been the dominant mode. Indeed, the first overhead trolley line was introduced in Leeds in 1891 and their reigned supreme until the advent of the petrol-driven bus after the Second World War.

Leeds Tram 345 back on the tracks at the Crich Tramway Village near Matlock    See story   Chris Lawton   31th March 2006

Leeds Tram 345 back on the tracks at the Crich Tramway Village near Matlock See story Chris Lawton 31th March 2006

During the 1950s, a full-scale tram scrapping project was underway as the city made the transition to a new, more modern form of transport. This, in turn, let to the formation of the Leeds Tramway Historical Society, which sought to preserve some legacy of tram travel in the city.

They wanted to preserve a tram car from Leeds but it took until 1959 and the founding of the tram museum in Crich, Derbyshire, for them to find a suitable home for it. After contacting the Transport Department, they were given car number 399, which was a regular along the Beeston route. In 1959 it was the oldest car of its kind in existence. It had been retired some years earlier but kept on ‘shunting duties’ down at Kirkstall Road Works.

The Leeds tram network closed in November 1959, at which point the society bought two more cars, even though they had to borrow money to do it.

Some of the old regulations make interesting reading. Rule 32 of Leeds City Tramways code says “drivers and conductors reported for entering public houses while on duty will be dismissed”, while Rule 80 from the 1899 regulations warns conductors not to let onto the ram “any intoxicated person”.

Trams were sa ved just before they were scrapped in 1959 and some are still around today

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