Our postcard and the smaller images below, represent early West Ham trams in Forest Gate, a district of East London. They were all published by Charles Martin of 39, Aldermanbury, London E.C. The Forest Gate railway station was opened by the Eastern Counties Railway in 1840 and is about six miles from Liverpool Street. Its presence encouraged the growth of the area, eventually creating the need for tramways, first North Metropolitan horse cars and then West Ham Corporation electric services which began in 1904 (see postcard of the opening for description of the system). Today Forest Gate station is on the Elizabeth Line.
Tram 67 in our main view is standing in Woodgrange Road at the junction with Romford Road and is facing south towards Upton Lane. The building on the right of the image is the Princess Alice pub which gives its name to the location. It was built in 1868 but was totally destroyed by bombing in 1941. A post war replacement lasted as a pub until 2007. This card was published in about 1907 and is number 2404 in Charles Martin's series. At around this date there was a full grand union junction there, truncated in 1937. There is a view of the same junction, with a North Metropolitan horse tram in Romford Road, in the description of a horse car at Manor Park (see North Met postcard).
The tram in our second view (right), taken in 1904 and card 1316 in the publisher's series, is car 16 which was one of the first batch of fifty trams for West Ham, built in 1904 by G.F.Milnes and as described at the opening (see postcard). This is standing at the original short lived northern terminus of the tramway in Upton Lane. We are looking north towards Romford Road and the Princess Alice. The tram is still carrying the hexagonal destination indicators used at first, but soon replaced by two-line blinds boxes.
Our final view of Forest Gate (left),was published in about 1907 and is number 1979 in Charles Martin's series. The view shows car 65 at Wanstead Flats terminus of the Docks via Plaistow route, which was about half a mile north of the Princess Alice. The west side of the flats are on the left of this view. The east side of the flats was served by the East Ham tramway's Wanstead Park to Royal Albert Docks route.
Trams 65 and 67 in these postcards were part of the second batch of thirty-five West Ham trams, built in 1905 by the Brush Electrical Engineering Co. Ltd. of Loughborough. They seated 60 passengers. They had Mountain & Gibson standard gauge 4-wheel trucks to a 6 ft. wheelbase, having two Dick, Kerr 25A motors controlled by B.T.H. type B18 controllers.
All the trams on the postcards were on the route from the Victoria and Albert Docks via the Abbey Arms and Plaistow to the Princess Alice which opened on 22nd or 23rd May 1904, with the extension onwards to Wanstead Flats opening on 30th July. On the numbering of routes by the LCC in 1913 this became route 4, but the route was then also covered by route 8 which continued from the Flats to Bakers Arms, Leyton and from 1925 extended northwards again to Chingford Mount, being worked jointly by West Ham, Leyton (operated by LCC) and Walthamstow, with the short working as 4 being phased out. In this form as route 8 it passed to London Transport in 1933, where it was operated as route 87 until 6th Jun 1937 when it was replaced by trolleybuses on route 687, as seen here in a photo by W.J.Haynes © TLRS at the Docks terminus, with M1 class 1531 turning for return to Wanstead Flats. In their turn, the trolleybuses were replaced by Routemaster buses on route 278 on 27th April 1960.
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