Belfast Corporation Tramways

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Belfast Corporation Tramways
Belfast Royal Avenue 1920's.jpg
Royal Avenue, Belfast in the 1920s
Open1 January 1905
Close10 February 1954
Track gauge4 ft 9 in (1,448 mm)
Propulsion system(s)Electric
Route length51.45 miles (82.80 km)

Belfast Corporation Tramways formerly served the city of Belfast, Northern Ireland.[1]


Belfast's first trams operated in 1872 and were horse-drawn.[citation needed] Initially, the system was owned and operated by the Belfast Street Tramways Company. It was purchased by the Belfast Corporation on 1 January 1905 and electrified, using overhead wires, in 1905.

Belfast's electric trams were originally painted red and white.[citation needed] Some older, unmodernised trams retained this livery until the 1950s. In 1928, a new general manager was appointed: William Chamberlain, formerly of Leeds Corporation Tramways. Chamberlain introduced a new livery of dark blue and white (although the former red and white was re-adopted in the late 1940s). He was also responsible for the modernisation of 50 of the older tramcars and the construction of 50 new vehicles.

Chamberlain was succeeded by Robert McCreary in 1931, who introduced a further fleet of 50 streamlined trams in 1935 – the last trams to be built for Belfast.[citation needed] These trams gained also the nickname "McCreary". Colonel McCreary retired in 1951 and was succeeded by Joseph Mackle.


Belfast Corporation converted the Falls Road tram service to trolleybuses in 1938.[2] The Corporation regarded this as successful and a decision to eliminate the tram system was made in 1939.[3] Trolleybuses continued to be introduced during the 1940s. The last trams ran in 1954 and, following a policy change, were replaced by diesel buses.[4]

The trolleybuses were themselves replaced by diesel buses in 1968.[5] The Belfast Corporation bus fleet was transferred to Citybus (now Metro) in 1973.


Old street scene with tram in the museum. - - 1222254.jpg

Two ex-Belfast Corporation trams survive at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum.[6]

  • 249 4-wheel double deck built 1905
  • 357 4-wheel double deck built 1929

An older Belfast tram, of the horse-drawn variety, is also at the Ulster Folk Transport Museum. (No. 118)


See also[edit]


  • Joyce, J; et al. (1986). British Trolleybus Systems. Ian Allan. ISBN 978-0-7110-1647-7.
  • Klapper, Charles (1974). The Golden Age of Tramways (2nd ed.). David & Charles. ISBN 978-0-7153-6458-1.


  1. ^ M. Maybin, A nostalgic look at Belfast Trams, Silver Link Publishing Ltd, Peterborough, 1994, ISBN 1-85794-030-X.
  2. ^ Klapper 1974, p. 274.
  3. ^ Joyce 1986, p. 22.
  4. ^ Joyce 1986, pp. 23-24.
  5. ^ Joyce 1986, p. 26.
  6. ^ Voice, David (2004). The Definitive Guide to Trams (including funiculars) in the British Isles (3rd ed.). UK: Adam Gordon. ISBN 1874422486.