The Wolverton to Stony Stratford Tramway
The Wolverton to Stony Stratford tramway was opened in 1887. The service was extended to run as far as the village of Deanshanger in 1888, but this part of the service was withdrawn within two years as it proved uneconomic to operate. The tracks remained for years afterwards. For almost 40 years Stony Stratford had a tramcar service with the largest tramcars ever to run through the streets of a British town.
Memories of the tram
A Stony Stratford resident, Cecil Palmer, remembers the tram service between Stony Stratford and Wolverton.
“The tram depot was in the road where we’re living. The tram was drawn by steam engines. The LMS took over the tram company when it was going bust after the First World War and the employees became LMS men and went on strike in May 1926. The tram stopped and never ran again.”
The route and timetable
“The tram ran from the top of Stony Stratford outside the “Foresters”, to the railway station at Wolverton, that’s all, where it turned round and came back again. They ran two, one at twenty past and the other at half past five in the morning and they’d bring the men home from the Works in the evening. In the day time they’d work the timetable so that they were at the station to meet the trains. At night time, at half past five, when we got home, the engine turned round – they got the double lines here so they could do it, and would go straight back to pick up the Print Workers because they worked till 6 o’clock. There wouldn’t be another one till after seven from Stony, and I had to be in Wolverton at the Science & Arts by seven so I walked!”
Getting out and pushing!
“There used to be a stop at King St, then it didn’t stop again until it got to the Print Works – only when it couldn’t get up the hill, when we had to get out and push: Snow or anything on the line would stop it. The road in those days was twisty and turning to Wolverton and it was only when they took the metals up that they straightened it.
“Where the road turns to Old Wolverton there was a sharp hill and when they did the road they levelled it off. But in those days when the tram was running it was quite a sharp incline. If the tram hadn’t got enough steam he’d go bop, bop, bop and it would run back. We’d have to get out and then push it back over the top of the hill, then get back in and away we’d go again. If it was a wet morning the driver would run it back nearly to the Mill Drive, get up steam and then go again, hoping he’d get over. Sometimes it would come off the rails and they’d just back it on till it dropped on the metals and away it goes again.”
Alternatives to the tram – bikes and cars
“Some men could afford bikes but most never got enough money to buy them. A bike cost pounds – the cheapest bike after the First World War was £2 or £3 which was more than a week’s wages.
The first car I remember in Stony Stratford was Col. Bull’s and his was the first registration in Buckinghamshire – BH43. He had a chauffeur and they used to sit up there, 4 seats, 1 for the doctor and 2 at the back, no cover, just an open carriage and wheel was big and the driver used to sit up straight and drive it. It wouldn’t do above 15 to 20 mph. This was just before the First World War. After the War, Morris of Oxford and Austin of Birmingham started and they became more popular.”