In Colchester transport policy is always controversial and decisions can take years. A hundred years ago things were different. In February 1903 the council voted to proceed with proposals for a tramway and just eighteen months later, in July 1904, the first tram set off from the town hall. Driven by the mayoress Mrs Gertrude Barrett it made its way to North Station via Lexden. On the first Saturday the trams had 10,000 passengers.
At 1 in 12, North Hill was the steepest section of the route and trams sometimes struggled to get up when the rails were slippery. Rather more worrying was the danger that they might not be able to stop on the way down and so speed was limited to 4 mph.
Eventually the faster, quieter, more comfortable motorbuses took over and in 1929 the trams were sold off for £5 each, becoming garden sheds, summer houses and even a café
This book celebrates the short period in Colchester’s history when trams ruled the roads.
Middleton Press hardback £18.95
Grey Friars, the building at the top of East Hill is known and loved by many Colcestrians. For many years a flourishing centre for Adult Education, it previously housed Colchester County High School for nearly 40 years. Originally built in 1755 by the Rev John Halls as an elegant Georgian town house, the building has had fascinating succession of occupants including merchants, horticulturalists and army officers. In 1903 the connection with education began when the Sisters of Nazareth established a convent and school in the building. The book also explores the early history of the Grey Friars site from the Roman era to the establishment of the original Franciscan Friary in the 13th century. This combination of background history of the area, together with lovingly described and illustrated architectural details of the current building, make this book a must for all lovers of Colchester’s history.