Glenanne and Loughgilly Tramway

This short tramway was something of a record holder as far as uniqueness goes, being the only one of this gauge (1ft 10ins) in the British Isles, with the horse walking outside the track (due to its construction), and with the driver sitting down inside the vehicle on one of the passenger seats, at right angles to the direction of travel.

The tramway was built by the owners of the Glenanne Mills, George Gray and Sons. No record of a parliamentary act appears to have survived, so it seems likely that the tramway did not require one, presumably because it and the road alongside, belonged to the owners. The line was built to convery coal and other materials from the Great Northern Railways of Ireland's Loughgilly station to the mills at Glenanne, a distance of some 2.5 miles, with finished goods heading in the opposite direction. The line qualifies as a tramway — albeit a semi-private one — because it carried fee-paying passengers in a single open-sided passenger vehicle, the vast majority of whom would presumably have been locals, and therefore probably also mill employees.

Very little is known about the history of the tramway, which is thought to have opened in 1897, and to have closed around 1918, the tracks certainly having been lifted by 1919. The tramway's demise was purportedly brought on by issues in procuring horse men, though this seems somewhat unlikely, a more probable explanation being the purchase of a petrol lorry, which was presumably cheaper to operate along the existing road.

The only known photograph of the sole passenger horsecar suggests that the driver, who also doubled as a conductor, wore informal attire, but with a kepi-style cap, the latter possibly, though by no means certainly, issued by the company. Neither the jacket nor the cap appear to have carried any badges.

Further reading
For a short history of the tramway, see: 'The Glenanne-Loughgilly Horse Tramway' by W McGrath, in the Tramway Review, No 13 (p102-104); Light Railway Transport League (1954). For an overview of the Irish tram scene, including the Glenanne and Loughgilly line, see 'Irish Trams' by James Kilroy; Colourpoint Books (1996).


Horse tram drivers
Glenanne and Loughgilly Tramway
Probably the only surviving photograph of the passenger car, which was apparently named 'Carew'. It must have been a cramped affair, given the very narrow gauge (1ft 10 ins) and the overall dimensions. The driver bizarrely had to sit down at right angles to the direction of travel, which must have made for a cricked neck, not to mention the restricted forward view caused by the horse's rear end. Photo courtesy of Jim Kilroy, tram archivist at the National Transport Museum (see link).

Glenanne and Loughgilly passenger tram
An enlargement of the above photograph showing the driver-cum-conductor (holding the reins); he would appear to be wearing an informal jacket and a kepi-style cap, though this is far from clear.