In Pictures: Neath Tramway 1

A tram which we haven’t featured on these pages before is an unusual survivor from South Wales, Neath Corporation Tramways no. 1. Whereas when most tramways opted for electric operation when the time came to replace horse trams Neath Council unusually opted for gas powered trams making the survival and display of this tram even more significant. Photos from David Mee.

Tram services had originally commenced in Neath in 1875 with horses providing the power but in 1897 Neath Town Council took control and preceded to initiate modernisation. The decision was taken to use town gas and a fleet of 23 double deck trams were supplied by the British Gas Traction Company using stored gas under compression in cylinders beneath the floor. The operation was leased out by the Council but was beset by financial difficulties throughout its history with the Council eventually taking over operation itself in 1916. The tramway only remained opened for a further four years, closing in 1920 following the inauguration of a competing bus service by the South Wales Transport Co. Knowing its time was up the tramway was actually closed the day before this bus service began.

The only known survivor of the tramway is no. 1 which had been sold following the closure of the tramway. It survived in a local garden being used as a shed until the 1980s when it was recovered and restored for display at the Neath Council owned Cefn Coed Colliery Museum, where it remains to this day. It can be viewed when the museum is open between May and September (closed on Mondays and Wednesdays).

Three images showing no. 1 in pride of place at the museum.

An information panel with details of the route. (All Photographs by David Mee)

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4 Responses to In Pictures: Neath Tramway 1

  1. DAVE MITCHELL says:

    I think that this exhibit has been aired previously, not with yourself,
    Still stuff to rediscover, interesting.

    Thank you.

    Dave

  2. Paul says:

    This was new to Lytham. I think Neath had six gas cars and took a handful from Lytham, I’m not sure how a fleet of 23 has been identified

  3. David Mee says:

    If you look here:
    http://www.spanglefish.com/neathtramwaymemories/

    More information and a photo of later and larger car 21 – perhaps there were 23 cars, although it seems a large number for a 4 mile line.

    • Paul says:

      21 is almost certainly ex Lytham 21. Neath didn’t have 23 cars, mind you the oft publish ‘fact’ that Lytham had 20 is wrong too – they had 16 but both fleets had numbers into the 20s. I strongly believe cars 1-4 were Lytham’s first small cars, 5-10 were Neaths then 11-22 were Lytham’s big cars. Photos exist of most Lytham cars in this series and none between 5 and 10. Both lines were in common ownership.