Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: June 06, 2017.
Webpage updated: April 17, 2018




Plymouth's first street tramway was opened by the Plymouth, Stonehouse and Devonport Tramways Company Limited in 1872.  Their line ran from Derry's Clock in Plymouth, through Union Street and as far as Cumberland Gardens, Devonport.  In 1874 this was extended at the Devonport end to run up to Fore Street.

Plans by the Plymouth, Devonport and District Tramways Company Limited to run steam trams from West Hoe to Compton Lane End were scuppered by the Board of Trade and Devonport Corporation, who in 1884 brought a sudden end to Plymouth's 10 days of steam trams.

In 1886 the Plymouth and Devonport (Extension) Tramways Company was authorized to take over the old steam system and construct some new lines.  However, nothing came of that proposal and in 1890 the existing tracks were taken over by the Plymouth Tramways Company Limited and then the Plymouth Tramways Company.

The failure of the Plymouth Tramways Company to complete their promises to extend the system spurred Plymouth Corporation in 1892 to purchase the system.   Plymouth Corporation Tramways Department started to work the lines on Easter Monday 1893.

Electricity became the chosen power in 1899, when the Tramways Department opened its first electric tram service.

The Plymouth, Stonehouse and Devonport Tramway Company reduced its rail gauge to 3ft 6ins and electrified their line in 1901.

Because the Borough of Devonport had to wait until 1901 before the Devonport and District Tramways Company Ltd started operating, they had electric tramcars from the very beginning.  More about Devonport's tramway network will be found at Tramways in Old Devonport on the Old Devonport.UK Website.

Plymouth, Stonehouse and Devonport amalgamated in 1914 but it was not until 1916 that through running began between Plymouth and Fore Street without touching Union Street.  The Plymouth, Stonehouse and Devonport Tramways Company Ltd remained independent until 1922 when it was unified with the rest of the system and Plymouth finally reached its full list of services.

During the 1930s a tramway replacement programme was put into operation so that by 1941 only the line from Drake Circus to Peverell Corner was left in operation.

When hostilities had ceased, it was decided to abandon the trams altogether and Plymouth's last tram ran in 1945.