North Dublin Street Tramways Company

Powers to build a small number of tramway lines radiating out from central Dublin to the suburbs and settlements to the north of the city, were granted on the 11th August 1875 under the North Dublin Street Tramways Act, 1875. The same act presumably also authorised the promoters to incorporate a company — the North Dublin Street Tramways Company — to finance, build and operate the planned tramways. Although a network of horse-drawn tramways already existed in Dublin, owned and operated by the Dublin Tramways Company, none of its lines served the communities targeted by the NDSTCo.

The 1875 act authorised the construction of three lines: to Phoenix Park and Glasnevin, both from a city centre terminus at Nelson Pillar in Sackville Street (now O'Connell Street), and to Drumcondra, from a terminus in Capel Street. These were modified and supplemented by a second act — the North Dublin Street Tramways, 1876 — on the 11th August 1876, which authorised an inward extension of the Drumcondra line from Capel Street, over Essex Bridge (now Grattan Bridge) to a more central terminus in College Green. The act also authorised the company to take over powers that had originally been granted to the DTCo to construct a line out to Inchicore in the west. The latter company had allowed the powers to lapse, as it had done with powers for several other planned lines, which enabled to NDSTCo to acquire them, a development that unsurprisingly, did not endear the NDSTCo to the DTCo.

The Phoenix Park and Glasnevin lines, which shared the same tracks for circa 40% of their lengths, opened on the 10th December 1876, and were followed shortly afterwards by the Drumcondra line, which had its city-centre terminus in Capel Street. The lines had though, been shoddily built, which ultimately resulted in the demise of the director whose company had done the work — William Barrington — a man who had previously lost his managing directorship of the DTCo amidst accusations of mismanagement. His replacement as contractor (and as a director) was William Martin Murphy, a man who was destined to play a major role in the development of Dublin's tramways, and in particular, the NDSTCo's successor, the DUTCo. Murphy's company subsequently constructed the line from College Green westwards to Inchicore, and northwards to connect with the Drumcondra line in Capel Street; this was opened from College Green to James Street in March 1878 and in full in July 1878.

The NDSTCo's Dublin network comprised approximately eight route miles. From Nelson Pillar, the Phoenix Park and Glasnevin routes ran northwards via Blessington Street and the North Circular Road to Phisborough Road, where the Glasnevin line split from the main line to Phoenix Park. The latter continued westwards along the North Circular Road to a terminus at Phoenix Park Gates; the Glasnevin route headed northwards along Phisborough Road and Botanic Road to a terminus at the latter's junction with Botanic Avenue. The Drumcondra line, which originally commenced in Capel Street, ran northeastwards via Bolton Street, Dorset Street and Drumcondra Road, to a terminus near the latter's junction with Botanic Avenue, just short of the River Tolka. The last line ran westwards from College Green, via Dame Street, Castle Street, Thomas Street and James Street, to a terminus near Spa Road in Inchicore.

Rather than obstructing each other, which served neither the populace nor their shareholders, the three main horse tramway companies — the Dublin Tramways Company (16.5 miles; 82 tramcars), the North Dublin Street Tramways Company (8 miles; 25 tramcars) and the Dublin Central Tramways Company (6.5 miles; 30 tramcars) — agreed, on the 13th July 1880, to merge into one larger entity, to be called the Dublin United Tramways Company. The amalgamation required legislation — the Dublin United Tramways (Amalgamation of Companies) Act of 1881 — the DUTCo formally coming into being on the 1st July 1881.

Photographs which unequivocally date from the period before the amalgamation that formed the DUTCo, i.e., between 10th December 1876 and the 30th June 1881, appear not to have survived, so it is currently impossible to say whether or not NDSTCo horsecar crews wore uniforms, or for that matter, any form of insignia such as cap badges or licence badges. However, given that the successor company — the DUTCo — did not see fit to issue uniforms to its staff until the advent of electrified services, some sixteen years after its formation, it seems highly likely that staff of the NDSTCo simply wore informal attire: jackets, shirt and ties, and the fashionable headgear of the day, in all probability the bowler hat.

Further reading
For a short history of this system, see: 'Through Streets Broad and Narrow' by Michael Corcoran; Midland Publishing (2000).