City of Oxford Tramways Company

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City of Oxford Tramways Company
City of Oxford Tramways Company.jpg
Map of the City of Oxford Tramways
Locale Oxford
Open 1 December 1881
Close 7 August 1914
Status Closed
Track gauge 4 ft (1,219 mm)
Propulsion system(s) Horse
Depot(s) Leopold Street, Oxford

The City of Oxford Tramways Company and its successor the City of Oxford Electric Tramways Company operated a horse-drawn passenger tramway service in Oxford between 1881 and 1914.[1]


The City of Oxford Tramways Company was incorporated in 1879[2] under the provisions of the Oxford Tramways Act of 1870.[3]

Major General Charles Scrope Hutchinson from the Board of Trade inspected the works on 28 November 1881 and the first line opened to the public on 1 December 1881.

The first route of 1881 was from the railway station to Cowley Road, Carfax. On 28 January 1882 a route was opened from Carfax to Rachham’s Lane along Cornmarket Street, Magdalen Street and St. Giles Street. On 15 July 1884 a route opened to Kingston Road via Beaumont Street and Walton Street. On 15 March 1887 a route was opened from Carfax to Lake Street, New Hinksey via St. Aldates.

By 1895 the company had a fleet of 16 single-decker trams. By 1910 this had expanded to 19 double-decker cars.

The depot was located off Leopold Street at SP 5301 0548.

The Oxford Corporation had the option to purchase the company after 21 years,[4] but political consensus could not be achieved, and the company made a new agreement to extend the system and continue operation until 1907. On 5 November 1898 the Banbury Road route was extended to Summertown.

The company did not get its full term and in 1906 the corporation bought it out. A newly formed City of Oxford Electric Tramways Company took over in 1907. This was a subsidiary of the National Electric Construction Company. The method of electrification could not be agreed upon, and the concession of this new company expired in 1912.


The system suffered from a strike by the tram workers in 1913. William Morris, 1st Viscount Nuffield, and Frank Gray started a motor-bus service in direct competition with the tram and without a licence. This prompted the Tramway Company to respond with its own bus service. The last horse tram service ran on 7 August 1914.


  1. ^ The Golden Age of Tramways. Published by Taylor and Francis.
  2. ^ The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
  3. ^ The Horse-Trams of Oxford, 1881-1914, Harold W Hart
  4. ^ section 43 Tramways Act 1870

Tramway Review Nos. 140, 142 & 143 by H.J.H.Wheare, M.A.

My article on the Oxford Tramways was published in the September issue of Tramway Review.

John Perkin.