Great Yarmouth History

Trams - A History of Local Transport

Although the bus is now the preferred method of public transport in the area this was not always so. From 1871, when the East Anglian Tramway Order was approved until 14th December 1933, trams were the way to get around the locality.

Originally, trams were to run from Southtown to Southwold, taking in Gorleston and Lowestoft. However, it seems that all such plans are destined to go awry. In the end trams ran from Gorleston Railway station (see section on railways) into and around Great Yarmouth and then on to Caister. Lowestoft had its own system running in the town. The system that developed was never fully joined up as the trams never crossed Haven Bridge. A new bridge would need to be built for this and the cost was prohibitive.

Tram Depot Gorleston 1882

Tram Depot Gorleston 1882

Above is a picture of the Gorleston tram depot which was located on the site of the present library, just off Feathers Plain. This depot provided parking for the trams as well as stabling for the horses that pulled them. In 1905 the horse drawn trams on the Gorleston section were replaced by the new electric trams that were all the rage. The Great Yarmouth section being electrified in 1902. The old tram depot was also replaced in 1905 by a new depot (see below right) that incorporated a library which still occupies the same location today, but not the same building.

Southdown Road 1905

Tram on Southdown Road 1905

In the early years of 20th century the Borough Council took over the tram system and it was during this period, in 1907, that the last extension to the system took place. The tramway was extended to Caister which made the system just under 10 miles in length. Despite a number of planned extensions the only other major change to the system before World War 1 was the doubling up of the track in Yarmouth Market Place.

Gorleston High Street

Gorleston High Street

By the end of the war in 1918 both the track and the rolling stock were in serious need of upgrading. In 1923 it was decided by the Borough to renew the track and purchase new tramcars. However, around this time buses were being introduced to replace parts of the tram system. his had the positive effect of releasing some of the tramcars to serve on the remaining tram network but the writing for the trams was surely on the wall. Of course it did not stop the Borough spending public money on, what must have seemed to many, to be a redundant transport system. If proof were needed then the propopsed construction of the new Haven Bridge in 1927, again without tram tracks, was surely a give away. In 1929 the tram service to Vauxhall Station stopped, followed in 1929 by the closure of the Southtown - Gorleston route. The remainder of the routes in Great Yarmouth carried on until 1933 when the inevitable occurred and the last tram ran on Dec 14th 1933. The trams were no more.

Tram Depot Gorleston 1905

Gorleston Tram Depot 1905