Borough of Portsmouth, Kingston, Fratton and Southsea Tramways

Powers to construct 3.9 miles of tramway in the Borough of Portsmouth were granted on the 20th August 1883 under the Borough of Portsmouth, Kingston, Fratton, and Southsea Tramways Act, 1883. The act also authorised the incorporation of a company to build and operate the tramway: the Borough of Portsmouth, Kingston, Fratton, and Southsea Tramways Company.

Construction did not commence until the 2nd May 1885, the first services running — between Fratton Bridge and East Southsea — by the 26th November 1885 (though possibly as early as the 18th August 1885), the system being completed on the 13th March 1886.

At its maximum, the 4ft 7¾ins-gauge horse tramway extended to circa 3.3 miles. From the junction of Powerscourt Road and Buckland Road in Kingston, the line ran due south along the latter to Lake Road — where a connection was made to the horse tramway system of the Portsmouth Street Tramways Company (a subsidiary of the Provincial Tramways Company) — continuing southwards to Havelock via Fratton Road, Victoria Road North and Victoria Road South, where the line split. One line turned eastwards along Albert Road to the Festing Hotel, from where it ran southwards along Festing Road and St Helens Parade to a terminus near Alhambra Road, where another connection was made to the tracks of the PSTCo; from Havelock, the other line continued southwards along Victoria Road South, before turning westwards along Marmion Road to a terminus near Richmond Place.

The company worked the initial services, very probably using horses supplied by the Provincial Tramways Company, and quickly reached agreement with the PSTCo for the latter to operate through services northwards from its own system via the connection at Lake Road. On the 18th June 1887, operation was taken over by the Cardiff-based entrepreneur Solomon Andrews, under a seven-year lease. This was no doubt much to the chagrin of the PTCo, which had been engaged in heavy competition with Andrews horse omnibuses, not just in Portsmouth, but in other towns too. The competition was finally brought to an end in 1888 when the PTCo bought Andrews out, including his lease of the BofPKF&ST, which was passed to the PSTCo on the 26th March 1888.

As not all the authorised lines had been constructed, the company applied to have a portion of its deposit returned; this was duly granted on the 19th July 1887 under the the Borough of Portsmouth, Kingston, Fratton, and Southsea Tramways Act, 1887.

It seems highly likely that the line along Albert Road and Festing Road was unremunerative, especially in winter, as it was reported as being disused when a summer-only service was recommenced on the 8th July 1889. Although information is extremely sparse, it seems that the company was significantly under-capitalised, and was either badly run or at least loss making, as it was taken to court by its debenture holders in June 1891 for failing to quote its shares on the local share list. A liquidator was appointed, and on the 30th April 1892, the company was wound up. Its assets were auctioned off on the 28th June 1892, the successful bidder being the PTCo. Despite objections, the Board of Trade authorised the sale, the deal being completed on the 30th July 1892. From this date onwards, the PSTCo continued to operate the tramway, but as the lessee of its parent company.

The PTCo was a London-based holding company that had been founded in 1872, and which would ultimately be involved in tramway operation for over fifty years, either owning, controlling or operating: Borough of Portsmouth, Kingston, Fratton and Southsea Tramways; Cardiff Tramways; Cardiff District and Penarth Harbour Tramways; General Tramways of Portsmouth; Gosport Street Tramways; Gosport and Fareham Tramways; Great Grimsby Street Tramways; the Landport and Southsea Tramway; London Southern Tramways; Plymouth, Stonehouse and Devonport Tramways; the Portsdown and Horndean Light Railway; and Portsmouth Street Tramways.

Photographs of the horse tramway taken in the short period between its opening and eventual lease to the PSTCo (1885 to c1886) have not survived, so it is not possible to state whether staff working the BofPKF&STCo's horse trams wore uniforms.

Following the tramway's lease to the PSTCo in circa 1886, tramcar crews would presumably have worn the same attire as their counterparts operating the PSTCo's own system, namely, informal attire, with conductors wearing self-purchased kepi-style caps (see link). PSTCo tramcar crews also wore a large round municipal licence badge, attached to either the coat or in the conductor's case, the cash-bag strap.

Further reading
For a detailed history of the area's tramways, see 'Tramways of Portsmouth' by S E Harrison, Light Railway Transport League (1955), and 'Provincial Paper No 2' by Stewart Brett, The Provincial Society (2014).