​​From Steam to Electric | Opening of Route Blackburn - Darwen Trams | Blackburn and Darwen Trams
Blackburn to Darwen Tram Route | Opening of route Blackburn-Accrington Tram 
Blackburn to Accrington Tram Route | Opening of Route Blackburn - Preston New Road Trams 
Blackburn to Preston New Road Tram Route | Opening of Route Blackburn - Queen's Park Trams 
 Blackburn to Queen's Park Tram Route | Opening of Route Blackburn - Wilpshire Trams 
Alteration to Route Blackburn - Wilpshire | Blackburn to Wilpshire Tram Route 
Opening of Route Witton - Cherry Tree | Witton to Cherry Tree Tram Route



 From Steam to Electric






Opening of Route Blackburn - Darwen Trams

Opening of Route
April 16th, 1881.
Blackburn Weekly Standard April 16th, 1881.
Operated by "THE BLACKBURN & OVER DARWEN TRAMWAYS CO." The tramway between the two towns has been completed, and after the Government inspection, which took place on Wednesday, was thrown open for general traffic. On Saturday afternoon a trial trip took place in the presence of a large crowd of spectators, who had assembled out of curiosity to witness the event. The line was inspected on Wednesday, according to arrangement, by General Hutchinson, one of the officers of the Board of Trade. The General arrived at Blackburn at half-past two in the afternoon, and taking a position inside the engine went along the line to test the machinery and the capacity of the line. Having proceeded to Darwen he alighted from the engine and walked all the way back, accompanied by the Surveyor of the town. General Hutchinson expressed his satisfaction with the work, and said the only observations he had to make, were that a greater space should be left at the passing places, so that a person would not be crushed if he got between two cars. He also suggested that one passing place, near Hollin Bank Mill, should be lengthened.
Tramway Take-Over
31st December, 1898.
Book - "The First in the Kingdom", Page 4.
After a stormy life the tramway company was finally given notice in 1898 of the intention of the Corporation to take up its option of purchasing the undertaking. On 31st December, 1898 the whole of the tramway within Darwen was purchased by the Corporation for £26,400 and within Blackburn by that Corporation for £22,337.

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As cities and towns grew and populations increased the need for some means of mass transport over short distances became apparent. At first horse-drawn omnibuses were seen as the answer, but many northern towns had streets that were too steep for horses, mechanical power was needed. Steam power on the railways had been a success, so it seemed logical to introduce small scale light railways to the towns. And successful they were, though complaints were made about the noise and dirt and they were fairly soon superseded by electric trams, which were quieter, cleaner and cheaper to run.

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The line from Blackburn to Darwen was commenced in 1880 and by April of the following year trams were carrying passengers on the line. By the end of the year the line had been extended to Whitehall in Darwen.
The corporations of Blackburn and Darwen took over the route in 1897 and electrification took place shortly afterwards. Darwen abandoned its trams in 1946 and Blackburn trams ceased running to Darwen boundary from Blackburn in 1949.


Opening of route Blackburn-Accrington Tram

Opening of Route
May 28th, 1887.
Blackburn Times May 28th, 1887. Page 8, Col. 1.
The opening of the Blackburn Corporation Tramways, as far as Church, has been sanctioned, as Major General Hutchinson made the inspection on Wednesday, and the cars will commence running to-day, and will, no doubt, be largely used during Whit-week. The Inspector met Mr. McCallum, the borough engineer, on Thursday, at Blackburn, and in company with that gentleman and Mr. Cramp, of Messrs. Cosh and Co., London, lessees of the tramways, walked behind an engine and car to Church. The Inspector was perfectly satisfied with the construction of the road; and after a close examination of the mechanical construction of the engines, which are by Messrs. Green and Co., of Leeds, the new patent brake, which is so made that it applies itself when the engine attains a speed of over eight miles an hour, was tested on the return journey to Blackburn, and was found to act very satisfactorily on the steep gradients at Furthergate and Eanam.
The inspector expressed himself perfectly satisfied. At Church the party were met by Aldermen Dixon, Alker, Whiteley, Howorth, and Parker; Councillors Boyle, Higson, Eastwood, Bradshaw, Howorth, Leaver, and Calvert [members of the Highway Committee]; and other gentlemen, who returned with the Major-General to Blackburn. Four engines and one car have already arrived, and for the present are located in the Accrington depot. In construction the engines are like those of the Accrington tramways. They are, however, of different colour, the body of the engines being painted with "a greenery-yallery" tint. The cars, made by the Ashbury Co., Limited, Manchester, also resemble those at Accrington, but several improvements have been introduced. They are on the bogey principle, and are of considerable length, being made to carry 60 passengers - 30 inside and 30 outside, with "garden seats" on the top. They are wider than the Accrington cars, and a portion of the top is encased, thus protecting passengers from the weather. The body of the car is painted scarlet. The interior of the cars is like those on the Accrington cars, save that the seats are cushioned.
Route through both Boroughs
August 3rd, 1907.
Tramway and Railway World, September 5th, 1907.
Today, the cars of the Blackburn and Accrington Corporation's electric tramways now run over the routes of both corporations. Under the terms of the agreement, Accrington supplies the electrical energy and collects the fares, paying Blackburn 4d. for every mile run over it's routes.

Blackburn Corporation Tramways commenced a service as far as Church on May 28th 1887 just in time for the Whitsuntide holiday. We can imagine the crowds that gathered to experience the ride out of town via Salford and then up Eanam to Copy Nook.

The route was electrified on 9th August 1901 and by September 1907 Blackburn and Accrington Corporations were running trams through to both towns.

Accrington closed its route to Church in 1932. The Intack to Church section went in January 1949 and the Blackburn to Intack in September of that year when a car filled with long service drivers and conductors escorted the last tram along the route.


Opening of Route Blackburn - Preston New Road Trams

Opening of Route
August 25th, 1888.
Northern Daily Telegraph August 24th, 1888. Page 3, Col. 5.
Major General Hutchinson, from the Board of Trade, inspected the new section of tram lines from Salford Bridge to the top of Preston New-road this morning. He expressed satisfaction at the work, and gave permission for the opening of the line. The trams will commence to run to-morrow morning at nine o'clock.
Blackburn Evening Express August 25th, 1888.
The Preston New-road section of the Blackburn and District Tramway Co., was opened this morning for public traffic. Much interest was evidently manifested in the opening of the new route judging from the crowds of people assembled at the starting point. The cars for upwards of an hour were crowded each journey. The service will be a ten minute one. Some fine horses have been purchased to run on the new section, steam as is generally known being prohibited. The cars too have been made specially for this route and have been supplied by the Oldbury Carriage Company. They are licensed to carry 32 persons.


Blackburn to Preston New Road Tram Route

The first trams on the Preston New Road route were horse drawn. Major General Hutchinson of the Board of Trade inspected the route on August 24th, 1888 and the service from Salford Bridge via Church St, Victoria St, King William and Sudell Cross began the following day. The cars for the route were built by the Oldbury Carriage Company and could carry 32 people. A ten minute service was put into operation. The route was electrified on 20th March 1899. A formal opening by Mayor Eli Haworth taking place on Wednesday 29th of March. The service ran for almost 50 years, closing on 6th of January 1946.


Opening of Route Blackburn - Queen's Park Trams

Opening of Route
4th December, 1903

Blackburn Times December 5th, 1903. Page 2, Col. 6.

Yesterday the Audley section of the Corporation tramways was opened. This marks the completion of the Corporation's present scheme, no further extension of the system being contemplated for a while. Owing to the bad weather and other unforeseen circumstances, the opening has been somewhat delayed. Major Druit, of the Board of Trade, inspected the line on Thursday afternoon, and passed it. The first service of cars was run yesterday. From terminus to terminus the Old Bull, Darwen Street, and Queen's Park Gates is a distance of 1-23 miles, and the fare for the entire length is one penny. For the present a 15 minutes service is being tried.


Blackburn to Queen's Park Tram Route 

By the end of 1903 Blackburn's tram system was more or less complete, apart from the through service to Accrington which commenced in 1907.  At the beginning of December that year the Audley section was opened. Bad weather had delayed the opening. The fare from the town centre to Queen's Park gates was 1 old penny. A fifteen minute service was operated. The Queen's Park section lasted almost 32 years. It was the first tram route to be abandoned. The last tram left for Audley on February 13th 1935 and buses took over the following day.

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Opening of Route
January 6th, 1888.
Blackburn Times January 7th, 1888. Page 8, Col. 1.
The opening of the Penny-street Tramways occurred on Friday morning, with a large number of persons assembled near Salford Bridge to witness the departure of the first tramcar on the Cemetery Section. Additional interest was taken in the opening owing to the Board of Trade having refused permission to the Tramways Co, to run up Penny-street. Since that time, however, negotiations had been in  progress between the Tramways Co, and the Corporation, and the former agreeing to accept £1,000 as compensation and to construct an alternative route either through Ainsworth-street and Regent-street or Larkhill-street, an agreement to that effect was passed under the Corporate Seal on Thursday. The cars which are to run on this section are of a smaller type than those on the Accrington section, and are only constructed to carry 42 passengers.


Alteration to Route Blackburn - Wilpshire

February 6th, 1901.
Blackburn Times February 7th, 1891. Page 8, Col. 1.
Yesterday the new route on the Cemetery section of the Blackburn tramways was opened, and hereafter the cars will go up Ainsworth-street and along Regent-street into Cemetery-road, and back again down Penny-street. They had previously used Penny-street both ways.

It was 6th of January 1888 that the first steam tram ran from Salford Bridge to the Cemetery. At first trams ran along Penny Street on both outward and return journeys, however, shop keepers on Penny Street complained that soot from the trams was ruining their merchandise and on the 6th of January 1891 the route was altered and trams ran out along Ainsworth Street and Regent Street, returning via Penny Street.

Electrification commenced on July 4th 1901 and the route was altered again so that trams ran out along Penny Street, their return journey bringing them back along Regent Street and Ainsworth Street to Salford.  On May 14th 1902 the route was extended to Wilpshire, bringing the delights of the Ribble valley within reach.

The route closed on the 21st of December 1947.


Opening of Route Witton - Cherry Tree

Opening of Route
January 26th, 1889.
Blackburn Standard & Express January 26th, 1889. Page 5, Col. 6.
The new tramway line from Station-Road, to Witton was formerly inspected yesterday by Major General Hutchinson R. E. of the Board of Trade. The inspection was made on one of the cars running off the Preston-road section, drawn by a couple of horses. The General was accompanied by Mr. C. C. Cramp, Chairman of the Company, Mr. Love, and Mr. Taylor the Contractor. Major Hutchinson at the conclusion of the journey, expressed satisfaction with the new line.


Witton to Cherry Tree Tram Route

Horse drawn trams originally operated as far as Redlam, the service opening in January 1889. Ten years later the service was electrified and extended to Witton Stocks. Encouraged by the success of the Wilpshire route, the service was extended again in October 1903 as far as Cherry Tree. The route closed on 31st March 1939, 40 years to the day since the commencement of the Witton Stocks service.  A large crowd gathered to watch the passing of the last tram.
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