Seaton Tramway

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Seaton Tramway
Seaton Tramway.jpg
Train of Seaton Tramway in Seaton
Locale Devon
Commercial operations
Original gauge 2 ft 9 in (838 mm)
Original electrification 120 volts DC overhead wire
Preserved operations
Length 3 mi (4.8 km)
Preservation history
Seaton Tramway
Disused railway to Seaton Junction
Colyton Station
Cownhayne loop
Tye Lane loop
A3052 level crossing
Colyford Station
Swan's Nest loop
Bobsworth Bridge
2014 flood damage
Axmouth loop
Riverside loop
Riverside depot
Seaton

The Seaton Tramway is an 2 ft 9 in (838 mm) narrow gauge electric tramway which operates over the route of a former London & South Western Railway branch line to Seaton, Devon. The line was converted between 1969 and 1971 by Claude Lane, who had bought the line from British Rail and had successfully operated trams in Eastbourne as a visitor attraction.

The 3-mile (4.8 km) route runs through East Devon's Axe Valley, between the coastal resort of Seaton, the small village of Colyford and the ancient town of Colyton.

Thirteen tram cars are part of the visitor attraction which sees about 80,000 visitors per year. The tram cars are half-scale (1:2) replicas of classic British tram cars from various cities. One of them is the only tram from the Exeter tram system which is still in service, number 19.[1]

History[edit]

Claude Lane was the owner of the Lancaster Electrical Company of Barnet, a manufacturer of battery electric vehicles. His hobby was trams, and in 1949 he constructed a portable 15 in (381 mm) gauge tram system that he displayed at garden fetes and with semi-permanent sites at St Leonard's in 1951 and Rhyl from 1952 to '56. In '53 he agreed a lease at Eastbourne for a permanent 2/3rd mile-long 2 ft (610 mm) gauge system in the name of Modern Electric Tramways Ltd. The first new 2 foot gauge tram, now Seaton's Nº6, was ready for the 1956 season. By '57, Eastbourne was successful and he closed the Rhyl operation in order to concentrate on a single line. Cars 6, 7, 4, 2 & 12 were all constructed for the Eastbourne line.[2]

By the mid 1960s, Lane was seeking a freehold site for a longer line and was also considering a large gauge, allowing roomier and more stable cars. Car Nº 8 was also constructed and run at Eastbourne, the first with an enlarged body anticipating a change to 2 ft 9 in (838 mm) gauge. This extra space is particularly noticeable with the internal staircases at each end of the car. The Beeching Axe was in full swing and the railway branch line to Seaton was closed in 1966. Negotiations to first purchase the site, then to obtain the necessary permission for the tramway took some time and was not granted until December '69. The tramway relocated over the closed Winter season of '69–'70.[2]

The new line opened on 28 August 1970, just in time for the end of the holiday season. It was laid to the new gauge of 2 ft 9 in (838 mm) and car 8 had been regauged to suit.[2] This initial opening was very limited: the line only went as far as the newly christened 'Bobsworth Bridge', for the price of a shilling. As no overhead electrical supply had been constructed yet, the tram ran with a battery trailer behind it. Services closed early in September 1970, to allow further work to be completed including the extension to Colyford, erection of overhead supply poles and the gauge conversion of other rolling stock. A full season in 1971 was eagerly anticipated, but Claude Lane suffered a fatal heart attack on 2 April 1971.[2]

Fleet list[edit]

Number Year built Livery Current status Image Notes
2 1964 Red and white Operational
Seaton Tramway 23 May 2004 3.jpg
Based on a Metropolitan Tramway style open-topper
4 1961 Blackpool Tramway green and cream Operational
Seaton Tramway 23 May 2004 6.jpg
Based on a Blackpool style Open Boat
6 1954 Green and cream Operational
Seaton Tram Number 6 - geograph.org.uk - 530075.jpg
Based on a Llandudno & Colwyn Bay style open-topper
7 1958 Brown and cream Stored awaiting overhaul
Seaton Tramway 23 May 2004 2.jpg
Based on a Llandudno & Colwyn Bay style open-topper
8 1968 Bristol blue and white Operational
The Tram at Seaton Terminus - geograph.org.uk - 867379.jpg
Based on a Llandudno & Colwyn Bay style open-topper
9 2002 Two tone blue Operational
Seaton Electric Tram - geograph.org.uk - 507335.jpg
Based on design elements from Plymouth and Blackburn tramcars
10 2002 Orange, green and cream Operational
Tram at Seaton terminus - geograph.org.uk - 1285347.jpg
Based on design elements from Plymouth and Blackburn tramcars
11 2002 Pink Operational
Seaton Tram 11.jpg
Based on design elements from Plymouth and Blackburn tramcars
12 1966 London Transport red and cream Operational
Tram number 12 approaching Seaton - geograph.org.uk - 1285383.jpg
Based on a London Feltham-type tram
14 1904 Red and white Operational
Tram No 14 at Colyton - geograph.org.uk - 820121.jpg
Ex Metropolitan Tramways 94. Rebuilt into its current format in 1984
16 1921 Crimson and yellow Operational Ex Bournemouth 106. Rebuilt into its current format in 1992
17 1988 Red and white Operational
Seaton Tram No 17 (5869860543).jpg
Based on a Manx Electric Railway toastrack tram
19 1906 Green and white Operational Ex Exeter 19. Rebuilt into its current format in 1998
Images of Seaton Tramway
Seaton Tramway in 1995 
Seaton Tramway in 2006 
The tram stop at Colyford 

References[edit]

  1. ^ Neville, Julia (2010). Exeter and the Trams 1882-1931. Exeter Civic Society. pp. 104–124. ISBN 978-0-9544343-1-1. 
  2. ^ a b c d "History of Seaton Tramway, Devon". Seaton Tramway. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 50°43′19″N 3°03′32″W / 50.722°N 3.059°W / 50.722; -3.059