Cardiff Tramways Company

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Cardiff Tramways Company
Cardiff Tramways 21.jpg
Tramcar 21 at the National Tramway Museum
Locale Cardiff
Open 12 July 1872
Close 1 January 1902
Status Closed
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Propulsion system(s) Horse
Route length 6 miles (9.7 km)

Cardiff Tramways Company operated an horse tramway service in Cardiff between 1872 and 1902.[1]


The Provincial Tramways Company was floated in July 1872 by means of a prospectus inviting public subscription for shares in a new company.[2] The published prospectus stated an intention to set up horse tramway companies in various towns including Cardiff. Within a year those in Plymouth and Cardiff were in operation as reported to the half yearly meeting of the company in 1873.[3]

Cardiff Tramways Company was a wholly owned subsidiary company of The Provincial Tramways Company and its first horse tramways were in operation by July 1872 from High Street in the city center to the Docks, and eventually 6 miles of route were operated. On 10 December 1877, the Council approved the operation of services on Christmas Day, subject to some improvements in the operation of the service in general and to the removal of the smell arising from the bad oil used in lighting the cars.[4]

In 1887 after a protracted trading war with the horse bus operations of Solomon Andrews in Cardiff, Plymouth and Portsmouth a settlement was reached whereby The Provincial Tramways Company bought the operations of Solomon Andrews in those towns, full details of the settlement were reported at the companies 30th AGM.[5]

1889 was a year marked by several industrial disputes between the tramway company and its staff reaching a climax at the end of June with serious disorder on the streets as strikers successfully stopped the trams operating.[6]

In 1898, Cardiff County Borough Council obtained Parliamentary powers to take over all the tramways in the area and go ahead with the new electric trams, owning them from 1902, under the revised name Cardiff Corporation Tramways. The company was operating 52 horse tramcars at the beginning of 1902 when most of the tramways was purchased by the council.[7]

From 1902 the Cardiff Tramways Company continued to operate its horse buses in Cardiff until 1908, from 1907 it had started to operate motor buses and gradually developed a motor bus fleet of various types. This operation ended on 1 October 1922 when the business, goodwill and assets of the company were sold to Cardiff Corporation.[8] The company was finally put into voluntary liquidation and wound up in 1936.[9]

Route Development[edit]

The first route opened in 1872 was from Bute Docks Pier Head northwards to the High Street. Later that year another route was opened from the High Street eastwards via The Hayes and Queen Street to Roath later in 1879 extended a further half mile eastwards. Also in 1879 a route westwards from the High Street to Canton was constructed. Another route was built from the High Street southwards to Clarence Road terminating near to the Pier Head line and finally a route was opened from the High Street north to Cathays via Salisbury Road. The complete network was operated by 52 open top double deck horse trams using 3 depots.[10]

The 1887 takeover of the operations of Solomon Andrews included the operating contract for the Cardiff District and Penarth Harbour Tramways which ran east to west across the city from Roath to Lower Grangetown but it never reached Penarth Harbour. This tramway remained with the Cardiff Tramways Company later than the rest and was only taken over by the council in 1903.


  1. ^ The Golden Age of Tramways. Published by Taylor and Francis.
  2. ^ 'The Times (London, England), Tuesday, 16 July 1872; pg. 13; Issue 27430.
  3. ^ The Morning Post (London, England), Thursday, 3 April 1873; pg. 7; Issue 31437.
  4. ^ 'Council Minutes: 1876-80', Cardiff Records: volume 4 (1903), pp. 493-514
  5. ^ Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), Wednesday, 30 November 1887; Issue 5785
  6. ^ Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), Monday, 1 July 1889; Issue 6278
  7. ^ The Provincial Press, No14 September 2006
  8. ^ The Provincial Press, No18 September 2007
  9. ^ The London Gazette, 27 November 1936 pg7682
  10. ^ The Directory of British Tramways published 1996 pg171