Bristol Tramways
Locale England
Dates of operation 1875 – 1941
Track gauge
Headquarters Bristol

The Bristol Tramways Company was formed in 1875 by Sir George White to serve the city of Bristol, England. It operated trams until 1941 when a Luftwaffe bomb destroyed the power station.


The first trams in Bristol (horse-drawn, with a maximum speed of 6 miles per hour)) were introduced in 1875. Electric trams were introduced in 1895, the first city to do so in the United Kingdom. At its peak there were 17 routes and 237 tramcars in use.

File:Bristol tram model arp.jpg

The Bristol Tramways Company also ran a fleet of omnibuses to serve the rest of the city and country areas. In 1912 it bought the Clifton Rocks Railway. In 1929 the White family sold its controlling interest in the company to the Great Western Railway, but by 1932 control had passed to the Thomas Tilling Group. William Verdon Smith remained as chairman but was replaced in 1935 by J.F. Heaton of Thomas Tilling, so he could concentrate on the Bristol Aeroplane Company.[1]

In 1937 control of Bristol's tramways passed to a joint committee of the Bristol Tramways company and Bristol Corporation.


The electric tram routes were not numbered until November 1913 as follows:[2]

1. Tramways Centre - Whiteladies Road - Durdham Downs
2. Tramways Centre - Whiteladies Road - Durdham Downs - Westbury
3. Eastville - Old Market - Whiteladies Road - Durdham Downs
4. Tramways Centre - Zetland Road - Durdham Downs
5. Tramways Centre - Ashley Down Road - Horfield Barracks
6. Tramways Centre - Ashley Down Road - Horfield Barracks - Filton Park - Filton
7. Tramways Centre - Warwick Road - Eastville - Fishponds
8. Tramways Centre - Temple Meads Station
9. Hotwells - Tramways Centre - Temple Meads Station - Arno's Vale - Depot - Brislington
10. Bristol Bridge - Knowle
11. Bristol Bridge - Ashton Road
12. Bristol Bridge - Bedminster Depot - Bedminster Down
13. Tramways Centre - Old Market - St. George - Whiteway Rd - Kingswood
14. Zetland Road - Old Market - Eastville - Fishponds - Staple Hill
15. Knowle - Bushy Park - Old Market - St. George - Marling Road - Nags Head Hill - Hanham
16. Old Market - St George
17. Hotwells - Tramways Centre - Temple Meads Station

Note that:

  • Route 1 was withdrawn and absorbed into 2.
  • Route 8 was withdrawn and absorbed into 9.
  • Route 13 for a while, did not run to the Tramways Centre but terminated at Old Market.
  • Route 16. was a busy-period route only and was absorbed into 13 and 15.
  • Route 17 ran to meet the P and A Campbell steamers and was withdrawn at the same time as Route 8
  • Trams did not actually run along Ashley Down Rd., Marling Rd., or Whiteway Road, and route 14 did not enter Zetland Rd.
  • From 1902 to 1905, the route from Hanham, having reached Old Market, was extended to the Tramways Centre.


Abandonment of the tramways began in 1938, but this was halted at the outbreak of World War II. Tram operations ceased in 1941, with the Luftwaffe's Good Friday raid which set central Bristol on fire. A bomb hit Counterslip bridge, St Philips, next to the generating centre, and severed the tram power supply. The final tram from Old Market to Kingswood was given a push by passers-by and freewheeled its way into the depot.

All of Bristol's trams were scrapped and not one has been preserved for future generations. The main memorial to the system is a length of tram track still embedded in St Mary Redcliffe churchyard where it was blown by a bomb.[3]

The Bristol Tramways company continued as a bus operator, but the name was not changed to Bristol Omnibus Company until 1957.


External linksEdit

Historic town tramway systems in the United Kingdom (v/t)


Alford and Sutton - Barnsley and District - Birmingham Corporation - Blackpool - Brill - Bristol - Chesterfield - City of Birmingham - Dearne District - Derby - Doncaster - Grimsby & Immingham - Grimsby District - Heaton Park - Hull - Ilkeston - Liverpool - London County Council - London United - Maidstone Corporation - Mansfield & District - Matlock - Mexborough & Swinton - Nottingham Corporation - Nottingham & District - Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire - Rotherham - Scarborough funiculars - Sheffield - Southampton - Volks Electric - Warrington - Wisbech and Upwell - Wolverton and Stony Stratford


Great Orme - Swansea and Mumbles Railway - Pwllheli and Llanbedrog


Glasgow - Scottish Tramway and Transport Society

Northern Ireland

Giant's Causeway Tramway

Isle of Man

Douglas Bay Horse Tramway - Douglas Southern Electric Tramway - Manx Electric Railway - Snaefell Mountain Railway - Upper Douglas Cable Tramway


Maley & Taunton