Gail Thornton
a pictorial archive of horse


The Tram

Horse Drawn Trams took over from omnibuses in transporting large numbers of people along a specific route. The first recorded use of a tram was in Liverpool Docks in 1859. A year later George Train of Boston introduced the tram in London running down from Marble Arch to Porchester Terrace. Unfortunately this only lasted a few months as the tracks he had laid were raised and obstructed other road uses. Trams could be single deck pulled by one horse or have a double deck pulled by two horses. As you can see in this photograph the tram is an open topped double-decker traveling from Beverley Road to Victoria Pier. The stairs to the top deck are situated at the front of the vehicle rather than at the back. The location of this photograph is Hull.  

Tram lines were used, as it required less effort from the horse to pull the vehicle along smooth metal tracks than along the road. Passengers would also have a much smoother ride. The drawback for the horse however was that due to it being easier to pull a tram the vehicles increased in size in order to carry more passengers. A double-decker tram could seat 40 passengers. The other draw back was that it was an expensive mode of transport to set up and run. There was the initial outlay of the rails and then the purchase of horses and their upkeep, vets bills, blacksmiths not to mention ostlers (men who looked after the horses). On a good day a horse could pull a tram for around 12 miles a day, working around four or five hours, therefore tram companies required around ten or more horses for each tram they owned. This single deck tram is unusual in the fact that most single deck vehicles could be pulled by one horse. It may be that the route for this vehicle was not always on the flat like it is now. Unfortunately there are no clues on the postcard to show where it is or who the people are.

Trams were an ideal way to advertise all sorts of goods.  In this postcard you can cleary see that it is advertising Borwicks Baking Powder.  Again you can see that the steps are to be found at the front of the vehicle rather than the back.

This is a local tram as it is one owned by Hull Street Tramways.  It is advertising Johnsons which was located at 20 Waterworks Street and was a dry cleaners.

It would appear that there is little space on this tram that is not covered in advertising.  Unfortunately this real photographic postcard has faded and makes it difficult to read the top side board which could have maybe identified the location.  On the back someone has written Gorleston Norfolk but whether this is correct I am unable to say.

It is not too difficult to work out why this tram is referred to on the front of this postcard as the "Toast Rack Tram".  It carried passengers along the promenade of Douglas on the Isle of Man.  The postcard is one from the Valentine and Sons company based in Dundee and London.  Though it does not have a date the sender informs us that the weather has not been 'too good'.  It was posted to Grandma and Uncle Len living at 139 Cromwell Road, Eecles, Lancashire.