Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: June 29, 2019
Webpage updated: July 31, 2019




Wednesday April 3rd 1901 started as a normal day, with the horse trams running as usual.   But at 11.30am the route to Compton Lane End was closed down.   The route had been electrified from the junction with the Prince Rock route at Ebrington Street to Compton Lane End at a cost of about 18,000. 

Commencement (see note A below)

Wednesday April 3rd 1901.

At 12noon, the Mayor of Plymouth (Mr R Risdon) and about 250 guests assembled in the Guildhall Square and 'afterwards took their seats in eight new electric cars, which were waiting in Westwell-street'.  The Mayor and the Tramways Committee travelled in the first car, which was driven by Mr J H Rider, the Borough Electrical Engineer.  It ran 'smoothly and steadily' to Mannamead.  After receiving greetings from the residents of Compton, the party returned to the centre of town for a luncheon.

During the speeches many interesting statistics were made public.  One indicated that the system of running the horse-cars had been for 5 cars to run from Theatre to Hyde Park Corner (known as the Mutley cars) and for the remaining 5 cars to run from the Market to Mannamead (the Mannamead cars).  In future the cars would run through from the Theatre to Compton Lane End 'with a slight modification of fares, which includes the introduction of a half-penny fare from the Theatre to Ebrington-street'.

First class tram drivers now got paid 1 4s per week plus a bonus and boy conductors first class got 15s plus a bonus.  The average working week would in future be 53 hours.

The press reported that: 'On the opening of the cars to the public, there was some competition among those eager to get the first ticket.   It was secured by Mr C H Sullivan, manager at the printing office of Messrs John Smith.  The number was No. BL0000.  Mr Sullivan also secured the first ticket on the Prince Rock section'.

Original Route (see note B below)

Theatre Royal, Lockyer Street,Princess Square, Westwell Street,Basket Street,Old Town Street, Tavistock Road, North Hill, Mutley Plain, Townsend Hill, Tavistock Road, Compton Lane Corner.

Subsequent development (see note C below)

On Sunday April 7th 1901, a Sunday service of electric trams was started.  On the Compton route, the first car left the Theatre at 2pm and Compton at 2.20pm and 10 trams were employed to provide a 5-minute service until 10pm.  It rained heavily that day.

At some time during 1901 a film was made of the tram journey from the Theatre Royal to Compton.   It was shown at the Saint James's Hall during the week of Monday 18 November 1901, which just happened to be the day that the Plymouth, Stonehouse and Devonport Tramway started their service of electric tramcars along Union Street.

On May 22nd 1907 the Committee resolved to accelerate the service to Compton to every 6 minutes all day; to Peverell every 9 minutes from 8am until 12.30pm and then every 6 minutes for the remainder of the day; and to Beaumont Road by the running of an additional car from Midday.

Unification with Devonport, 1916

On and as from Monday October 23rd 1916 the Theatre Royal to Compton Lane End became Route 1, Theatre Royal to Compton Lane End via Mutley Plain, 1 mile 65 chains in length.

1937 Renumbering Scheme

When the whole network was renumbered on Monday April 5th 1937, the .

Note A:  Wherever possible an exact date of commencement of a service is shown.  However, in a lot of cases no precise date has been recorded so reference will be made to official returns to the Council or other documentary evidence to narrow the date down as much as possible.

Note B:  This gives the roads and streets the service passed through.  A road or street name in brackets indicates that it has not been confirmed beyond doubt that the road or street was used by buses on this route but it is a "best guess" based on the author's knowledge of the practice at the time.  If it is subsequently confirmed by either documentary or photographic evidence that the road or street was traversed by this service then the brackets will be deleted.

Note C:  Where deviations to the original route are shown they will be from and to a road or street named in the "Original Route" section so that the alteration in route can be easily followed.