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Wolverton & Stony Stratford Tram
The Wolverton and Stony Stratford Tram ran between the two towns in northern Buckinghamshire from the 1880s to the 1920s. It was the last steam tram way to operate in the whole of Britain, and one of the few ever to run over rural routes. The picture above shows the tram at Stony Stratford.
The decision to build a tram was taken in 1881 by business people in Stony Stratford. However, it did not run until 17 May 1887. The original operating company was owned by Charles Herbert Wilkinson & Company. On 17 May 1887, the very first tram (from Wolverton to Stony Stratford) was pulled by horses. The return journey was under steam power, with local school children given a free ride.
Originally, the tram had three Krauss steam locomotives, two 100 seat workmen's cars (primarily used by workmen travelling to and from Wolverton Works), one 80-seat upholstered car, one 20-seat car, two coke wagons (for coke and coal etc) and two covered wagons (manufactured by E&H Roberts of Deanshanger). In 1887 the route was extended from Stony Stratford to Old Stratford. A further extension to Deanshanger was completed in 1888, the first tram running on 24 May. The fare from Wolverton to Deanshanger was 4d (four pence, equivalent to about 2p in modern British money). The picture below shows the tram at Deanshanger.
By 1889 the tram was in financial difficulties. The tracks between Stony Stratford and Deanshanger were removed, while some of the track between Wolverton and Stony Stratford was renewed. The tram reopened on 20 November 1891 as the Wolverton & Stony Stratford and District Tramways Company, under the direction of Herbert Leon (later Sir Herbert) and a group of businessmen from the Bedford area. The tram continued successfully for many years, with further repairs carried out to tram tracks in 1907 to accommodate the growing number of automobiles in the area. The tram faced renewed financial difficulties in 1915, caused mainly by the increases in buses in the area, and by 1918 faced closure. It was rescued in 1919 by the London & North Western Railway which was the operator of the mainline running through Wolverton and owner of The Works.
By 1925 the tram was the last operated by steam in the UK, although it was again losing money. Tram staff joined the General Strike which started on 3 May 1926 on 14 May and the tram closed. It never re-opened.
Milton Keynes Museum has a number of artefacts associated with the tram. There is one large single decker carriage, and the upper and lower decks of a double decker 100-seat car. In addition, there is also a section of original track, rescued during the building of the Stony Stratford by-pass (it was found near to where the A5 dual carriageway crosses over the Wolverton Road in Stony Stratford). The Museum has made a video which tells the story of the tram, entitled 'Our Tram'. This is shown at Museum open days and by special request. There is also a special display about the history of the tram which includes a number of photographs.
The tram ran from close to Wolverton Railway Station along Stratford Road to Stony Stratford. In Stony Stratford it ran along Wolverton Road, turning right into the High Street by The Plough public house. From here, the tracks followed along the High Street (also known as Watling Street or A5) and then on to Old Stratford. The terminus here was close to the current crossroads and there was a turntable and terminus building, parts of which are still standing. The extension to Deanshanger terminated at the Fox & Hounds close to the E&H Roberts factory.
Since 1997 parts of the tram have been undergoing extensive refurbishment at the Museum. Two halves of a lower deck of a 100 seat tramcar have been joined together for the first time in over 70 years and a new upper deck manufactured using the original plans. The whole tramcar, at over 44ft long one of the largest ever made for use in the UK, is now the central feature of the Museum's new Hall of Transport. In July 2001 the Museum was awarded a £500 grant by The Transport Trust to complete the construction of new bogies for the tram.
For detailed information visit our Jewels of Milton Keynes pages.