Rails in the Road:

A History of Tramways in Britain and Ireland

Oliver Green

Date Published :
August 2016
Publisher :
Pen and Sword
Illustration :
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding : Hardback
ISBN : 9781473822238
Pages : 272
Dimensions : 11 X 8.5 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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There have been passenger tramways in Britain for 150 years, but it is a rollercoaster story of rise, decline and a steady return. Trams have come and gone, been loved and hated, popular and derided, considered both wildly futuristic and hopelessly outdated by politicians, planners and the public alike. Horse trams, introduced from the USA in the 1860s, were the first cheap form of public transport on city streets. Electric systems were developed in nearly every urban area from the 1890s and revolutionized town travel in the Edwardian era.

A century ago, trams were at their peak, used by everyone all over the country and a mark of civic pride in towns and cities from Dover to Dublin. But by the 1930s they were in decline and giving way to cheaper and more flexible buses and trolleybuses. By the 1950s all the major systems were being replaced. London’s last tram ran in 1952 and ten years later Glasgow, the city most firmly linked with trams, closed its network down. Only Blackpool, famous for its decorated cars, kept a public service running and trams seemed destined only for scrapyards and museums.

A gradual renaissance took place from the 1980s, with growing interest in what are now described as light rail systems in Europe and North America. In the UK and Ireland modern trams were on the streets of Manchester from 1992, followed successively by Sheffield, Croydon, the West Midlands, Nottingham, Dublin and Edinburgh (2014). Trams are now set to be a familiar and significant feature of twenty-first century urban life, with more development on the way.

About The Author

Oliver Green is former Head Curator of the London Transport Museum and has become its first Research Fellow. He has lectured widely and authored a range of publications on aspects of transport and design, ranging from the history of the London Underground to British Airways posters. His most recent book is Frank Pick’s London: Art, Design and the Modern City, published by the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and now acts as a consultant and mentor to a number of transport museums.


Profusely and beautifully illustrated, informed and informative, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Rails in the Road: A History of Tramways in Britain and Ireland" by Oliver Green (former Head Curator of the London Transport Museum and who has become its first Research Fellow) draws upon his years of experience, research and expertise and has created a unique and unreservedly recommended transportation history for community and academic library collections.

- Midwest Book Review

"Impressively comprehensive; well-illustrated, with images from a variety of archives and collections; an excellent read. It is highly recommended."

- Friends of the National Railway Museum

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