Monday, September 17, 2012

Old Trams Past Hardy Lane

When the Hardy Lane store opened in 1929 the electric tram network in Manchester was at its high water mark. Most miles of track and most passengers carried. But the improved motor buses and for some routes the trolley bus would be taking over. No sooner had the network expanded and further expansions were planned then the phasing out of trams had started. Nine years later it was the bus nipping down Barlow Moor Road.

I'm not a tramways historian, but like a lot of us trams both old rattler and modern metros are a wonderful means of transport. If I'm in your city I'll be travelling on one just 'cos I can. You forget the bus journey but I recall exploring Ghent, Torino, New Orleans, and Melbourne on rails in the road. My ultimate must try is De Kusttram that runs the length of the sea front of Belgium, all 42 miles or 68 kms....maybe just a section of it.

Trams came to Chorlton in 1907 and just a single track with loops for passing. It was part of the public clamour after Withington UDC amalgamated with Manchester in November 1904. People wanted the benefits of a city which was trams, a library, eventually a swimming baths and a municipal park, and general improvements to roads, street lighting and schools. On Thursday 9th May 1907 an illuminated car heralded that a new service would commence next day. Now I'd always thought that the original terminus was at the top of Beech Road but it wasn't it was at High Lane opposite the church. Even in 1913 the trams stopped there but by that time it was a double line after road widening. It was also where five roads met so complaints about congestion and safety were raised.

If you wanted to go to Hardy Lane, Southern Cemetery and on to West Didsbury a new bus service was introduced in June 1907. Every half hour from 1300 to 2030 hours. The full journey would have been 2p and the half journey up to Christ Church, West Didsbury would have been 1p. Not cheap for an Edwardian single fare.

After the Brookbank bridge over Chorlton Brook was reconstructed and widened in 1911 then the route could have tram tracks south to Southern Cemetery.

There is a lot more to find out, isn't there ever.... After 26 years with horses (1877-1903) and 48 years with electric traction (1901-1949) the old tram era ended . In 1994 the first of the modern era Metrolink service started, in 2012 it reached Chorlton.

Photographs : copy of old postcard of Manchester Corporation tramcars. Aerial view of Barlow Moor Road in 1926. There is Oak House Farm (not Hardy House Farm which I stated incorrectly until the comment below was recived) to the left rear of the large laundry building, and a field in the foreground that became Chorlton Park. Note the two tram lines and poles to carry the wires. Courtesy of Manchester Libraries Image Collection m72048.

Further reading :
Trams Stop Here - a weblog about trams of the world.
Chorlton Trams - on Chorlton History weblog


Hardy Productions UK said...

Checking old maps and up to date photos, it is not actually Hardy House Farm behind the laundry but Oak House Farm. This is why it is called Oakhouse Drive off Cundiff Road.

lorenzo23 said...

You are correct. Bit of a mistake mixing up the farms there. Thanks - I've amended the post now.

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