Lincoln Tramways Company

Lincoln's 3ft 6ins-gauge horse tramway, which opened on the 8th September 1882, was owned and operated by the Lincoln Tramways Company.

The company had obtained powers in 1881 to build around 4 miles of tramway within the city, but in fact, just a single line, 1.84 miles long, was ever built. This ran southwards from St Benedict's Square, which was situated just to the south of the River Witham, along High St, St Catherines and Newark Rd to a terminus outside the Gatehouse Hotel in Bracebridge. Although relatively short, it had to cross two railway lines in High St — the Great Northern Railway's next to Lincoln Central Station, and the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway's connecting line to the Midland Railway station (later known as St Marks), just to the south of Tentercroft St.

The tramway led a rather uneventful life, but seems to have been quite a profitable concern, at least during the last few years of its existence, for which details have survived. In 1899 however, the corporation started to take an interest in providing a modern, municipally operated tramway in the city, and though they acquired powers to build and operate an electric tramway in 1900 (including conversion of the horse tramway), it was to take several years for them to make a start, much of the time in-between taken up trying to decide what form of electric traction they wanted to employ. Negotiations between the corporation and the LTCo also took time, though agreement was eventually reached, the corporation taking possession of the tramway in July 1904.

The corporation continued to run the horse tramway until it was closed for reconstruction on the 22nd July 1905; the contractor — Williams and Griffiths & Company — which was also the manufacturer of the surface-contact current collection system that the corporation had chosen to use, being unable to commence work until then. Once started however, construction proceeded apace, the first electric service running some four months later on the 23rd November 1905.

The Lincoln Tramways Company (LTCo) operated horse trams for over twenty years, from 1882 through to its take-over by Lincoln Corporation in 1904. Despite this, photographs which conclusively stem from this era are extremely rare, though what has survived suggests that drivers and conductors simply wore informal but smart attire — trousers, overcoats, jackets, waistcoats, shirts and ties. Headgear appears to have largely followed the fashion of the day, predominantly the bowler hat, though in later years, no doubt flat caps would have made an appearance too. No badges of any kind appear to have been worn on either the uniforms or the hats.

Given the small size of the system, it seems unlikely that the LTCo bothered to employ the services of an inspector, and certainly, no photographs of them have survived.

Further reading
For a history of Lincoln's tramways, see: 'The Tramways of the City of Lincoln' by D H Yarnell, in the Tramway Review, Nos 63 (p163-173), 64 (p195-205) and 65 (p1926); Light Railway Transport League (1970 and 1971).


Horse tram drivers and conductors
Lincoln Horse Tram c1890
Lincoln Tramways Company horsecar at the Bracebridge terminus around 1890. All the adults present are wearing workman-like attire. This photograph is taken from Tramway Review No 63 (1970), the whereabouts of the original being unknown.