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Lower Edmonton > Transport and Watercourses > Trams and trolleybuses

Trams and trolleybuses

A look at tram and trolleybus services in Lower Edmonton over the years, plus a look at motor bus services operating before c. 1970.
Please note that most pages on this site have had little attention since the end of 2005 so may be somewhat out of date. Even if some parts of the page have clearly been updated that does not mean all the page has.

The Buses page covers modern day bus routes and also covers activity from about 1970 onwards. I wanted to examine what came before in the form of trams and trolleybuses, and having done that it seemed appropriate to look before the trams and also at the bus routes that replaced the trolleybuses. I then realised I was overlooking motor buses that were operating at the same time as the trams and trolleybuses and also that there was a small void in the sixties between this historical information and where my childhood recollections started kicking in.

Again I have to credit Mike Harris for The Greater London Bus Map as he has produced historical versions for several dates in the past and also Ian Armstrong's London Bus Routes page where he details bus routes since about 1950 and also links to PDF versions of the historical maps.

Horse drawn buses

By the late 18th Century Edmonton was well served by horse drawn stagecoaches and the services, which increasingly became horse drawn omnibuses from the 1830s, improved greatly during the first part of the 19th Century to the extent that in 1845 there were 15 minute services to the City all through the day. This was a factor in there being many rather upmarket houses and villas in Edmonton around that time. It was seen as a desirable out of town location.

The arrival of the low level railway line in 1849 just about wiped out Enfield Town's bus services and so I should imagine it would also have had a strong effect on the service from Lower Edmonton (where the Golden Lion inn was the typical starting point). In Upper Edmonton the Angel still had 15 minute services in 1867 but that didn't have a convenient station as there was at The Green. However if there were any bus services left in Lower Edmonton, the arrival of the high level railway line would quickly have killed them off and by 1874 the use of horse drawn buses for long haul services was completely over.

There is a nice one page discussion of the above on the Enfield Council site.

Trams (1881 – 1938)

[image]In April 1881 the North London Suburban Tramway Company opened a horse tramway between Tramway Avenue, where a depot was constructed, and the Edmonton/Tottenham bounday. It was extended to Stamford Hill by June and Ponders End the following January. A branch off to Finsbury Park along the Seven Sisters Road was quick to follow

The photo is outside Tramway Avenue c. 1900.

[image]Steam traction was introduced using small locomotives in 1885 but this was not only unsuccessful in practice because of the heavy wear on the tracks but it also bankrupted the company. The North Metropolitan Tramway Company took over in 1891and switched back to horses abandoning the line north of Tramway Avenue.

The photo dates from c. 1890 and shows steam trams on the New Road.

[image]Metropolitan Electric Tramways (MET) was formed in 1901 and in 1905 the route was electrified to Tramway Avenue and then continued north towards Waltham Cross over the next few years. The depot at the east end of Tramway Avenue was rebuilt for electric trams and opened in 1904, being extended in 1907. It could hold 60 trams in 1908.

The picture dates from c. 1905 and shows a tram passing Osman Road on Fore Street heading for Finsbury Park.

On the western side of the borough the tramway to Enfield Town was completed in 1909. It is the tramway that was the cause of the interesting alignment of the main road there. The more direct route between Green Lanes at Green Dragon Lane and London Road is via Bush Hill and this was the original main road. However it was just too steep for trams. So Ridge Avenue was constructed to swing east and join on to the southern half of Village Road and the new main road borrowed the western half of Park Avenue to hook back up to London Road.

The MET (pronounce the three letters) linked in with the LCC tramways at Stamford Hill in 1906/7 and in March 1913 they started through running with the 59 service from Edmonton Town Hall to Holborn, followed in June by the 79 from Waltham Cross to Smithfield. The 49 from the Town Hall to Liverpool Street started in June 1920 and used LCC stock.

A 1937 map shows the 27 to Euston had been extended to Edmonton Town Hall, the 49 to Enfield (at least for peak hour journeys) and the 59 to Waltham Cross. The tramway along Southbury Road from Ponders End to Enfield had opened in 1911 and terminated in the area of Enfield Town railway station and was mostly operated by the 49A shuttle service. Over on the west side of town the 29 route ran down to Finsbury Park and off down the Seven Sisters Road somewhere and there was also a 39A to Bruce Grove.

Trolleybuses (1938 – 1961)


In 1933 the London Passenger Transport Board took over the buses and trams and they decided that trams should be replaced by trolleybuses. I don't know what the justification for the decision was. In October 1938 trolleybuses replaced the trams in Edmonton.


In 1946 the trolleybus routes through Lower Edmonton were:

You will note the 627 terminating at the town hall which is consistent with Ron Roe's recollections on the message board where he talks of The Broadway being used to turn the buses round. The 629 would of course have run via Green Lanes, Ridge Avenue and Village Road.

The trolleybuses were replaced by diesel buses in stages 10 and 11 of the replacement programme in April and July 1961 and the overhead wires were taken down.

At the time of replacement the trolleybus routes through Lower Edmonton were:

So here we see the identical routes but with Waltham Cross being favoured as the terminus on the high road routes. Obviously the buses could only go on the electrified roads so it isn't surprising that there wasn't much variation.

Motor buses

The trams and then the trolleybuses may have provided the bulk of the longer haul services up to 1961 but there were also motor bus services (all diesel unless there were some very early petrol driven services) running at the same time on other routes.

A 1937 directory indicates there was an omnibus garage at Park Road, as well as the tram depot at Tramway Avenue, though I suspect in this context it just means there were some driver facilities there as no enthusiast sites record it as a garage in the depot sense. It was the original terminus for the 76 bus in 1934 so perhaps it was more important in the early years and then became more of a secondary facility. Further reading suggests that there used to be bus routes terminating around The Angel and the introduction of Park Road in the 1930s gave them somewhere to stand out of the way.

Mike Harris' map of 1946 bus routes, when trolleybuses had taken over from trams locally, gives an indication of what services there were:

As can be seen services along the high road consisted of a morning extension of the peak hours only 34B service which otherwise terminated at Ponders End, a peak hours extension of the 76 bus from Tottenham, and a night bus route to Park Road.

[image]The 76 bus started in 1934 as a service from Victoria via Waterloo to Edmonton Park Road which had extended to The Green by 1939. It was cut back to Tottenham Garage in 1943 with only peak hours services to Edmonton. Over the years they kept adding and removing peak hours journeys to Brimsdown.

The photo shows STL1262 on route 76 at The Green (or so I was told - I haven't worked out where it was taken). It would be date from c. 1940.

The 34B service was withdrawn in January 1970.

The 128 will look very familiar because in 1969 it was renumbered to be the W8 (the W meant it was a flat fare service). It was itself a replacement for the 204 single decker in 1941.

The 144A and 144B routes ran along the Great Cambridge Road and instantly become recognisable as the 217 and 231 to which they were renumbered in 1954.

[image]Mike Harris' map of 1958 routes shows very little had changed except the 191 had appeared (in 1954) running from Chingford Hatch to Lower Edmonton Station with extensions up Bounces Road to terminate at Goodwin Road. In 1966 the service was extended via Nightingale Road to end up in Enfield.

The photo shows a 191 at the stop at Bounces Road and I believe it must date from a Saturday in 1967 or 1968 asit is a type RTL bus. The weekday service used RT buses but on a Saturday a different garage served the route and the bus types chopped and changed a little over the years.

The trolleybus replacement routes in 1961 were:

The 127, which would have run via Tottenham Court Road, had a few changes until eventually being withdrawn in 1970 and the 279A lasted until 1971 (the number was reused for a sunday bus route). The 269 was withdrawn in 1968 and the Enfield Town to Turnpike Lane section covered by an extended 123. The 149, 259 and 279 are still chugging along with just variations in the end points from time to time.

The bus garage (buses have "garages" instead of "depots") at Tramway Avenue was closed in 1986 and has been demolished and is now the site of a housing estate. There was an associated line of buildings on the Hertford Road by the bus rank which included public toilets and I think possibly a cafe for the drivers. I don't know if Tramway Avenue continued to be a driver changeover point when the garage closed. I always remember that when on a bus heading north you hoped they wouldn't be changing drivers there because it delayed the journey by a few minutes, though as a child it was interesting seeing the conductors packing up and the new one taking over. These buildings have now been demolished and housing was built on the site in 2002.

© Copyright 2000-2019 Graham Johnson.
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