Haslingden Corporation Tramways

Haslingden Corporation became a tramway owner on the 27th August 1887, when services commenced on its newly built, 4ft 0ins-gauge steam tramway, which was in fact an extension of Accrington Corporation's Baxenden line, southwards to the Commercial Hotel in the centre of Haslingden. The line was extended further eastwards in November 1887, through the Haslingden-Rawtenstall boundary at Lockgate, to Queen's Square, Rawtenstall. The tracks within Haslingden were owned by the corporation, with operation, like Accrington, leased to the Accrington Corporation Steam Tramways Company; the tracks within Rawtenstall were fully owned by the company. Two years later, on the 31st January 1889, another 4ft 0ins-gauge steam tramway — the Rossendale Valley Tramways Company — was opened between Rawtenstall and Bacup, and though the lines were connected to those of the ACSTCo in Rawtenstall, through-running was never instigated.

Accrington Corporation began converting its lines to electric traction in 1907, retaining the steam tramway gauge of 4ft 0ins; the corporation formally purchased the engines, trailers and assets necessary to work its lines on the 20th September 1907, but reached agreement with the ACSTCo for them to continue working the steam services on a contract basis until the end of the year. The last steam tram in Accrington ran on the 31st December 1907, electric services to Baxenden (on the Accrington-Haslingden boundary) commencing the following day. On the same day (the 1st January 1908), Haslingden and Rawtenstall corporations took control of their share of the ACSTCo's assets, Haslingden taking over operation of its lines (from Baxenden to Lockgate) as well as those acquired by Rawtenstall (from Lockgate to Queens Square).

It is unclear when the last Haslingden Corporation steam service ran; some sources mention the 5th of September 1908, though this may just have been the last steam working between Baxenden and Haslingden, whilst others state the 28th, and there is every possibility that it was as late as the 20th October. What is clear however, is that the first electric service from Baxenden to the Commercial Hotel in Haslingden ran on the 28th September 1908 — worked by the ACT under a lease agreement — and from there through to Lockgate on the 20th October 1908. At some point, almost certainly during October 1908, Rawtenstall Corporation would have taken over the working of the Lockgate to Queens Square steam service, which was not converted to electric traction for another nine months.

Although Haslingden's 2.9 miles of electric tramway were worked by the ACT under a lease arrangement, agreement was also reached with Rawtenstall Corporation — whose newly electrified line to Lockgate opened on the 23rd July 1909 — which saw the latter's cars work through to Accrington, and the ACT's work through to Bacup.

Following Rawtenstall's decision to abandon its tramways in 1929, the three corporations (Haslingden, Accrington and Rawtenstall) agreed to closure of the Accrington-Rawtenstall route and its replacement by bus services, the last tram over Haslingden-owned tracks running on the 30th April 1930.

Although Haslingden Corporation was a tramway owner from 1887 through to 1930, it only ever operated services itself from the 1st January to the 5th September 1908 (or possibly the 28th).

The first photograph below, which was taken at Haslingden Corporation's John St depot, was possibly taken to mark of first day of corporation-run services. This photo shows two uniformed individuals, one of whom is clearly a conductor. He is wearing a single-breasted jacket with five buttons, a slit-breast pocket, two waist-level pockets (with flap closures) and upright collars; it is unclear whether the latter bore insignia. The cap was in a kepi-style with a piped hat band; it is unclear whether this bore any insignia, though if it did, it would more than likely have been embroidered, as there is no evidence of a reflection from the cameraman's flash. In common with the vast majority of steam tramways, drivers wore railway footplate-like attire comprising a cotton jacket, trousers, and a cotton or cloth cap.

Photographs taken around the end of the steam tramway's life (September 1908) suggest that uniforms may have fallen out of use, or more likely, that individuals had left the corporation's employ and it then chose not to order replacement uniforms given the tramway's coming closure. These photographs show conductors wearing informal but smart attire, comprising: jackets, trousers, shirts and ties, and the fashionable headgear of the day, invariably the flat cap. No insignia of any kind appears to have been worn.

The steam-depot photo also shows an individual who is, in all probability, an inspector. He is wearing a jacket identical to the conductor, but with a kepi-style cap bearing a large oval cap badge, almost certainly embroidered. During the electric era, although tram services were operated by the two neighbouring corporations, Haslingden saw fit to employ its own tramway inspectors. Photographic evidence is however lacking, so it is currently not possible to say what uniforms they wore, though they may possibly have included the cap/collar badge depicted below, as this was certainly used during the later Haslingden Corporation Transport era.

Further reading
For more information on Haslingden's tramway dealings, see: 'The Tramways of Accrington 1886-1932' by R W Rush; The Light Railway Transport League (1961).


Steam tram drivers and conductors
Haslingden Corporation Steam Tram and Trailer No 13 John St, 1908
A number of employees and officials stand with a rather care-worn Thomas Green & Sons' steam tram and a Milnes trailer (No 13) in the depot yard at John St, Haslingden. Although the photo is undated, the fact that the trailer is decorated, and the driver is wearing what would appear to be brand-new overalls, suggests that it may be the first day of operation by Haslingden Corporation Tramways, i.e., the 1st January 1908, which if correct, would appear to have been a sunny day. The engine started life with the Blackburn Corporation Tramways, before passing through the hands of the Accrington Corporation Steam Tramways Company, to its final destination with Haslingden Corporation; the trailer initially ran with North Staffordshire Tramways. My thanks go to Phil Calvey for the background information. Photo courtesy of David Gladwin, with thanks to Trevor Preece.

Haslingden Corporation Tramways Steam Tram driver 1908
A blow-up of the above photo showing the driver, who is wearing what appear to be, brand-new, light-coloured cotton jacket, trousers and soft-topped cap. The whole ensemble appears to be devoid of insignia.

Haslingden Corporation Tramways Steam Tram inspector and conducto
Another blow-up of the above photo, this time showing two uniformed individuals, probably an inspector (on the left) and a conductor (on the right.) Both men are wearing single-breasted jackets with a single slit breast pocket, waist-level pockets (with flaps) and upright collars, along with kepi-style caps. The inspector's cap clearly bears a large oval cap badge, probably embroidered.

Haslingden Corporation Steam Tram
The crews of a Haslingden Corporation steam tram (unidentified) and Accrington Corporation Tramways electric Tramcar No 16 pose for the camera at Baxenden — the photograph was taken between January and September 1908, when Haslingden ran its own steam trams, before handing over the newly electrified section between Baxenden and Haslingden to the ACT. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.

Haslingden Corporation Tramways steam tram crew
A blow-up of the above photo, which shows the driver (in very grubby railway footplate-like attire) and the conductor (in informal attire).

Haslingden Corporation Tramways steam tram outside the Park Pub Accrington
A photo taken outside the Park Pub in Manchester Rd between Accrington and Baxenden, which was purportedly taken on the 4th September 1908, and shows the 'last steam tram in Manchester Rd'. On the face of it however, this would seem fairly unlikely, given that this portion of route had been converted to electric traction eight months beforehand. It may be that this was a special working through to Accrington to celebrate the imminent demise of Haslingden's steam trams, though this is just speculation on my part, or alternatively, the date may simply be wrong. The conductor (extreme right) would appear to be wearing a single-breasted uniform, though details are difficult to make out. Photo courtesy of David Gladwin, with thanks to Trevor Preece.

Haslingden Corporation Steam Tram and crew 1908
A crowded street scene, apparently depicting the last 'steamer' from Haslingden, presumably at Baxenden, and supposedly taken on the 5th September 1908. An electric tramway standard is visible in the larger photograph. The conductor (right) is wearing an informal jacket and a flat cap. Photo courtesy of Duncan Holden.

Haslingden Corporation Steam Tram and crew 1908
Another photo purportedly taken on the 5th September 1908, once again at Baxenden (presumably), given that there is an electric tramcar behind the steam trailer; after closure to the steamers, the route between Baxenden to Haslingden was converted to electric traction, opening on the 28th September. The uniformed conductor and motorman are presumably the crew of the ACT tramcar. Photo courtesy of David Gladwin, with thanks to Trevor Preece.

Senior staff
Haslingden Corporation Tramways inspector's cap badge
Possible Haslingden inspector's cap or collar badge — nickel. This badge was certainly worn by employees of Haslingden Corporation Transport, but long after the demise of the tramway; it may well have been issued to Haslingden inspectors during the tramway era, though photographs either confirming or refuting this are yet to come to light. Inspectors were the only Haslingden Corporation staff to work on the tramway, as it was leased to Accrington Corporation Tramways (and later Rawtenstall as well), with trams and their crews being provided by the respective corporations. Photo courtesy of Richard Hargreaves.