Hill of Howth Tramway

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The Howth Tram on the Hill of Howth Tramway was a tram which served Howth Head, near Dublin, Ireland. The termini were at Sutton railway station, by the entrance to the peninsula, and Howth railway station by the village and harbour of Howth.


The line of the route was designed in-house by the Great Northern Rail staff at their Dublin office, under William Hemingway Mills, chief engineer. The engineer responsible for the detailed design was Joshua Harrison Hargrave, the famous Cork-born photographer/engineer.[1][citation needed]


The service operated from June 1901 to 31 May 1959 and was run by the Great Northern Railway (Ireland) (GNR(I)), which viewed it as a way to bring more customers to its railway stations at Sutton and Howth. The tramway replaced a horse bus service, which had run since 1867.[2]

Closure and replacement[edit]

The Hill of Howth Tramway, 1907

On 1 October 1958, Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ) took over GNR(I)'s operations in the Republic of Ireland, including the Howth Tram.[3] A year later, the tramway was closed down. It was initially replaced by two CIÉ bus routes – numbers 87 (Sutton to Ceanchor Road) and 88 (Howth to Windgate Road).[4] Two routes were necessary, as several narrow hill curves were not passable by the buses used. Eventually, sections of the disused tram route between the Baily post office and the Summit were expanded to form an extension of Carrickbrack Road; this enabled a single bus route (number 88) to be used.

The area was then served by the 31, 31a and 31b bus routes, which operated from Abbey Street in the city centre. In winter, icy roads on the hill occasionally cause the bus service to be suspended, unlike the tram, which ran in all weather conditions. A public footpath now follows the tram route between Howth station and the Summit.


No. 4 at Cultra

Four of the trams survive in preservation. No. 9 is now exhibited at the National Transport Museum of Ireland, which is located at Howth Castle, near the former terminus of the tramway at Howth railway station.[5] No. 4 is on display the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum at Cultra. No. 10 is preserved at the National Tramway Museum in Derbyshire, England; it has been converted to 4' 8.5" gauge and had previously run on the Blackpool Tramway from 1985-89.[6][7] No. 2 is at the Southern California Railway Museum, California, USA, in operating condition; it has also been converted to 4' 8.5" gauge.[8]

Possible plans to reinstate the tramway[edit]

In 2016 Fingal County Council announced that it was issuing an invitation to tender[9] for options for potential reinstatement of the Howth Tramway or part of it, as a possible tourist attraction.[10][11] Proposals which have been considered included the option of a horse-drawn tram on tracks along the seafront.[12]


Route map, c. 1922

Electric double-decker tramcars ran the five-mile route, which went from Sutton station along Greenfield Road and Carrickbrack Road to St. Fintan's Cemetery, then past the Baily post office and Stella Maris convent to Howth Summit. From there, the tramway ran down into Howth, terminating at the railway station. Most of the route was single track, with passing points at the main stopping places. The track gauge was 1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in), the same standard as railways in Ireland.


Stop Year opened Year closed Note
Sutton Station[13] 1901 1959 Sutton tramcar shed (connected to mainline in 1951)[13]
Sutton Cross[13] 1901 1959
Marine Hotel[13] 1901 1959 Request stop[13]
Church Road[13] 1901 1959 Request stop. Formerly called Saxe (or Sax or Sacks) Lane[13]
Strand Road[13] 1901 1959
Howth Desmesne[13] 1901 1959
St Fintans' Cemetery[13] 1901 1959 Request stop[13]
St Fintans[13] 1901 1959
St Fintans' Road[13] 1901 1959 Request stop[13]
Barren Hill[13] 1901 1959
Red Rock[13] 1901 1959 Request stop[13]
Somali Village[13] 1901 1959 Request stop (also called Bellinghams')[13]
Ceanchor Road[13] 1901 1959 Request stop[13]
Baily Post Office[13] 1901 1959
Convent Gate[13] 1901 1959 Request stop[13]
Stella Maris[13] 1901 1959 Formerly called Bay View or Baily View[13]
Ravensdale[13] 1901 1959 Request stop[13]
Tweedys' Lane[13] 1901 1959 Request stop[13]
Hill of Howth[13] 1901 1959 Formerly called Howth Summit, renamed 1912[13]
Kitestown Road[13] 1901 1959 Request stop (formerly called Bakers' Lane)[13]
Greys' Lane[13] 1901 1959 Request stop[13]
Dungriffen Road[13] 1901 1959
Balkill Road[13] 1901 1959 Request stop (also called Balglass)[13]
Island View[13] 1901 1959 Request stop[13]
'Korea'[13] circa 1950s 1959 Unofficial stopping place[13]
Howth Station[13] 1901 1959 Connection to mainline[13]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Institute of Civil engineers obituary
  2. ^ "Hill of Howth Tramway at trolleybus.net". Archived from the original on 9 March 2021. Retrieved 21 February 2021.
  3. ^ Corcoran 2008, p. 32.
  4. ^ "Hill Of Howth Tramway Closure". Irish Railfans' News. Railway Preservation Society of Ireland. 5 (3): 6. July 1959.
  5. ^ "The Hill of Howth Tramway and tram No. 9". www.nationaltransportmuseum.org. Archived from the original on 5 October 2017. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  6. ^ "GNRi Hill of Howth Tram No.10". www.irishrailwaymodelling.com. Archived from the original on 1 June 2016. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  7. ^ "Blackpooltra.ms". www.tramway.com. Archived from the original on 21 April 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  8. ^ "Trams DownUnder - Message 179538". tdu.to. Archived from the original on 10 June 2016. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  9. ^ Feasibility study on reinstatement of Howth Tram Mytenders.ie, 15 June 2016.
  10. ^ Ding Ding Old Number 9 tram may roll again in Howth Archived 2016-06-20 at the Wayback Machine by Dan Griffin, Irish Times, June 16, 2016
  11. ^ FINGAL COUNTY COUNCIL CONSIDERING RESTORING HOWTH TRAM Archived 2016-08-09 at the Wayback Machine Interview with FIngal County Council Mayor, www.q102.ie, 20 June 2016.
  12. ^ Howth tram is on course to be running again Archived 2016-08-09 at the Wayback Machine by Tom Prenderville, Irish Independent, 15 July 2012.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as Johnson, Stephen (1997). Johnson's Atlas & Gazetteer of the railways of Ireland. Leicester,UK: Midland Publishing. ISBN 1-85780-044-3.


  • Corcoran, Michael (2008). Through Streets Broad and Narrow — Dublin's Trams. The Sir John T. Gilbert Commemorative Lecture. Dublin City Public Libraries. ISBN 9780946841912. OCLC 226974337. OL 31937072M.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]