After nearly a century of service the tram made its final appearance in London

Sunday 6th July 1952

After nearly a century of service the tram made its final appearance in London. The very last tram to rumble along the capital’s streets arrived at south-east London’s New Cross depot in the early hours of the morning, driven by John Cliff, deputy chairman of London Transport Executive, who began his career as a tram driver. Trams had carried banners the previous week proclaiming “Last Tram Week” and special tickets carrying the same message were produced. Conductors punched souvenir tickets and enthusiasts drove or cycled alongside the tram – car number 1951 – for the duration of the journey. The tram’s journey time was extended by almost three hours by crowds of cheering Londoners who surrounded it along the route from Woolwich to New Cross. The first electric trams appeared on London’s streets in 1901 following on from horse-drawn trams which were introduced in 1861.However, by the 1930s trams were seen as noisy and dangerous to other road users. In 1931 a commission of inquiry recommended trams be replaced by trolleybuses – electrified vehicles which did not need tracks – but many trams were temporarily reprieved by the outbreak of the Second World War. The final phasing out of trams follows the closure of the Kingsway tram tunnel three months earlier. The tunnel which begins in Kingsway and extends under The Strand was opened in 1906 and houses two tram stations – Aldwych and Holborn.

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