York Horse Tramway

York Horse Tramway

Our postcard is a 'comic' one, in this case poking fun at the 'Old York' horse trams and tramway which had opened on 27th October 1880. In most British towns and cities, horse trams had given way to new electric trams by about 1905 although many places started with electric tramways. Thus, horse trams were quickly seen as very old-fashioned and a target of ridicule.

This postcard, one of a short series of similar designs, was published by Delittle, Fenwick & Co. of York and posted to Whitby on November 4th 1905. The unknown artist has depicted the decrepit tramway with undulating track, tired horses, tired staff, cracked windows and bent railings. Comments written on the side of the tram such as 'Passengers left behind may get there first' add to the overall image. Although posted in 1905, the horse tramway somehow lived on until September 7th 1909 - one wonders what state it must have been in by then. On that occasion, this postcard was available overprinted with a black border and the inscription "Journeyed Home - September 7th 1909. R.I.P."

York Horse Tram At the date of the postcard York probably had eight horse trams (example shown left) of which five were double-deck cars purchased second-hand in 1903, the others being single deck cars of 1882 to which upper deck seats were added in 1890. They were to 4ft gauge and the livery was chocolate and white. This card suggests there were just 5 horse trams in service because of the caption "To be raffled - 5 tram cars" or could this refer to the second-hand cars?

The 3ft 6in gauge electric tramway started relatively late (in 1910, York Corporation having taken over from the former owner, Imperial Tramways), and ran largely unaltered until 1935 using standard 4-wheel open-top trams.

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