Accrington Steam Tram

Accrington Steam Tram, "The Baltic Fleet"

This postcard shows one of the steam trams of the Accrington Corporation Steam Tramways Company, nicknamed the "Baltic Fleet", in about 1905. It is card No. 104 in the "Constant" series of Constantines' Stationers of Accrington. Our particular example of the card was produced in 1907 and was posted on 24th August of that year. It carries a poem about the replacement of the steam trams by electric trams which happened at that time, but earlier examples of the card without the poem also exist. The poem reads:

In Loving Memory
Weep not for me, my life is past
Dearly you loved me to the last;
Grieve not dear friends but continue kind
To the electric cars I leave behind.

The tramway was constructed under the Accrington Corporation Tramways Act of 1882. The 4 foot gauge track, as commonly used in this area, was leased by the company from Accrington Corporation for the usual 21 year period. The initial route from Church via the Market Place to Clayton opened on 5th April 1886. A route to Baxenden opened two months later and was extended twice in the following year to Haslingden and then on to the Rossendale boundary. The section in Haslingden was leased from that Corporation. The tramway in total was just under nine and a half miles in length. The depot was in Ellison Street. There were connections with both the Rossendale tramway and the Blackburn tramway (at Church) but through running of steam trams was not undertaken, this had to wait until the electric era.

The company had 19 0-4-0 tram locomotives built by Thomas Green & Son of Leeds, and later added four similar locos bought second-hand from Blackburn Corporation. The locos were 12ft 6in long, 6ft wide and 9ft 2in high (to top of condenser tubes). They had horizontal boilers and two cylinders of 9in bore and 14in stroke. The wheels were 2ft 6in in diameter with a 5ft wheelbase. There were 14 double-deck trailers from the Ashbury Railway Carriage & Iron Company of Manchester, three from G.F.Milnes & Co. Ltd. of Hadley Shropshire and other cars second hand mostly from Blackburn Corporation built by the Falcon Engine & Car Works of Loughborough.

Indeed the steam tram did leave behind electric cars. When the lease expired, Accrington Corporation took over the steam tramway on 20th September 1907. It had already started to build electric routes and had opened its first on 2nd August 1907, about the date of our card. In a very short time all the steam trams had been replaced. The electric tramway itself lasted until 6th January 1932.

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