Trams and trolley buses

A young boy's adventure

By David Strong

Exhilarating travel

For a young boy or girl it was an exhilirating and thrilling adventure to travel on an open top deck of a Tram from the Ditchling Road/Preston Park terminus to the town. The journey was downhill all the way and consequently the tram naturally gathered increasing momentum and just before reaching The Level it seemed to be going so fast that it would come of its rails and crash on its side, and  in 1939 such an accident actually occurred.

Distinctive livery 

The seats on the open deck tram were slatted and painted brown and attached to the seats was a sheet of canvas for passenger use in wet weather. The trams used to congregate in the Old Steine and their depot was in the Lewes Road Brighton. The Brighton trams looked quite splendid in their distinctive livery of yellow and chocolate brown and what is more, they had character.

Photo:Trams at the Aquarium terminus

Trams at the Aquarium terminus

Image reproduced with kind permission of The Regency Society and The James Gray Collection

This page was added on 26/08/2012.
Comments about this page

In the late 40s, as a child, my father took me on one of the last trams in London along the Thames Embankment. It shook me to pieces, and I'm glad I never had to travel on them regularly, as my spine would surely have disintegrated! Perhaps the Brighton ones were better?

By Stefan Bremner-Morris (26/08/2012)

My dad was born and bred in Brighton and my mum was from London. I was born in London and moved to Brighton in 1944. My mum had many relatives in London in the 40s and 50s and as a kid I remember very well going with her to visit my grandmother on Wandsworth Common and various other aunts and uncles dotted around south London. I remember the trams very well. They were fascinating to me. Very noisy and frightening. You had to walk into the middle of the road to get on them which was bad enough. The seats were wooden and slatted. The driver standing up front all day. The ring of the tram bell and the sparks that flew from where the pole from the tram joined the overhead power line. As Stefan has said it was a spine jarring ride. Despite the clanking noises and the hard seats I still have a loving memory for the trams of my childhood. My dad must have travelled on the trams in Brighton as he was born in 1898. When I was a kid the trams had gone and the quiet and swift trolly bus was my main transport to school and back and going to other places.

By Mick Peirson (27/08/2012)

We had trams similar to these in Leicester, where I was born in 1948 before we moved to Brighton and Hove in 1953. I know that the tracks in Brighton had been removed by September 1st 1939, so the only thing I remember in Brighton is the trolley bus. However, my mind is full of the deep clank of the bell and the metallic grinding as the tram set off, and being fascinated by a blue glass window on the end of the tram which, I imagine, was to cut down on light during night travel in the war.

By David Shelton (28/08/2012)

Interesting stuff.  I took a trip down to Croydon a couple of years ago to try out the trams to Wimbledon. They were pretty smooth and luxurious compared to the old-style ones described above. The driver seemed to be isolated in a sort of cockpit at the front, which was a bit weird, but otherwise I found them excellent, despite the confusing (for a newcomer) tram stops at the terminal. Sadly, a couple of people have been killed running for them in recent years.

By Stefan Bremner-Morris (29/08/2012)

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