Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: April 01, 2018
Webpage updated: April 16, 2018




As can be imagined, the news that the Board of Trade inspector's Report had refused to allow the Plymouth, Devonport and District Tramways to start operating was met with disbelief in Plymouth.  The lesser objection was the suggestion by Major-General Hutchinson that a second set of rails should be laid in Richmond Street.  It was now revealed that the reason the line had been laid on the eastern or right-hand side was that 'the houses there are invariably tenanted and there is no break, whereas on the other side shops abound and there are two considerable openings'.   The local press thought this was an admiral arrangement 'calculated to avoid giving inconvenience to vehicular traffic'.

But the most contentious objection was to the refusal to allow steam traction over that part of the line.  It was suggested, probably with good reason, that the inspector had passed that way when the children were pouring out of the Plymouth Public Free School in Cobourg Street and that this had prejudiced the case.   It was claimed by the press that only a small proportion of pupils pass down Richmond Street and thus 'the dangers conjured up are for the most part imaginary'.  It was suggested that special speed restrictions might be imposed at these times.  Fears were expressed about the viability of the project if the Company were forced to maintain both steam engines and a stud of horses and it was pointed out that if Board of Trade approval was not forthcoming 'Plymouth will be burdened with unused lines of rails and granite supports, and the inhabitants deprived of a useful means of town traffic'.

There was then a long delay while the Company made representations to the Board of Trade and generally deliberated on what to do next.  Finally, on Monday November 3rd 1884 a steam tram accommodating 30 passengers was run over the entire line from the West Hoe Pier to Compton Lane End and gave free rides, despite the fact that they still did not have authority to continue beyond Russell Street.  The journey took 35-minutes.   There was no civic celebration but a regular service was commenced the following day.