Blackrock and Kingstown Tramway

The Blackrock and Kingstown Tramway was promoted in late 1881 to fill in the gap between two disconnected sections of the Dublin Southern District Tramways, which would have completed, had everything gone to plan, a continuous stretch of street tramway between Dublin and Dalkey. Unfortunately, not only did the route parallel that of the Dublin, Wicklow and Wexford Railway Company's line — a concern that was prepared to use all and any means at its disposal to obstruct competition — but it also had to contend with different gauges at its southern and northern boundaries. To have stood any chance of success, it would have had to have overcome the vociferous objections of the DW&WRlyCo, and then reach agreement with the DSDTCo and the Dublin United Tramways Company (to the north), so that trams could run over their tracks to and from central Dublin, without passengers having to change vehicles. Whilst this may have made sense to the travelling public and to the promoters of the B&KT, the adversarial relationships between these concerns, which if anything, were to worsen over the years, did not bode well for the B&KT.

True to form, the DW&WRlyCo busied itself with all manner of objections and injunctions in an attempt to delay the scheme, though it eventually desisted after a fairly blunt warning from the Master of Rolls, in respect of any further obstructionist tactics. Nevertheless, the railway company did manage to delay matters, powers only being granted on the 16th July 1883 under the Blackrock and Kingstown Tramways Act, 1883. This act also authorised the incorporation of a company — the Blackrock and Kingstown Tramways Company — to raise the capital, and to build and operate the line. It was, however, to be another two years before the 5ft 3ins-gauge horse tramway opened on the 16th July 1885, with six tramcars and forty horses.

The tramway ran southeastwards for some 2.54 miles from the Town Hall in Blackrock, via Newtown Avenue, Monkstown Road, and Lower Georges Street, before turning northwestwards into Royal Marine Road, Kingstown (now Dún Laoghaire) to a terminus near the DW&WRlyCo's railway station. At the northern end, it met the DSDTCo's line from Haddington Road in Dublin (5ft 3ins-gauge), and at the southern end the DSDTCo's line to Dalkey (4ft-gauge). The tracks in Kingstown, which were interlaced in Royal Marine Road, were of different gauges so were not connected; at the northern end (Blackrock), although the tracks were the same gauge as those of the DSDTCo, and were purportedly connected, no through running ever seems to have taken place.

Given the lack of through services, it is perhaps hardly surprising that the B&KT was not a financial success; by 1891, its annual loss had risen to £551, and it was clear that the company could not go on much longer. Salvation was to come in the form of the Imperial Tramways Company, the parent company of the DSDTCo, which the talented entrepreneur George White of Bristol (later Sir George) gained full control of in 1892. White had ambitious electrification plans for several of the ITCo's subsidiaries, and in particular the DSDTCo. Application was duly made in late 1892 to build an electric tramway between Dublin and Dalkey, essentially converting the DSDT and the B&KT to the same gauge, and to overhead electric traction. Powers to acquire the B&KTCo and to convert its lines and those of the DSDTCo to mechanical power were obtained on the 24th August 1893, under the Dublin Southern District Tramways Act, 1893.

Although the B&KT was formally acquired on the date the act was passed, it is possible that the ITCo had taken control of the B&KTCo earlier, subsequently passing it on to its subsidiary — the DSDTCo — as soon as it was legally possible to do so.

It is likely that the B&KT continued to operate as a separate entity for while, before eventually being subsumed, operationally, into the DSDTCo. Whilst the first electric services over the DSDTCo's new line definitely began on the 16th May 1896, the date that the last horse tram ran over the former B&KT remains unclear.

Photographs of B&KT crews are unknown, so it is currently impossible to say whether staff wore uniforms.

Further reading
For a history of the DSDT (which covers the B&KT), see: 'Dublin Southern District Tramways' by A T Newham, in The Tramway Review, Nos 46 (p138-144), 47 (p159-168) and 48 (p171-180); Light Railway Transport League (1966).