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).

The first electric service over Haslingden-owned track (from Baxenden to the Commercial Hotel in Haslingden) commenced on the 5th September 1908 — worked by the ACT under a lease agreement — and from there through to Lockgate on the 24th October 1908, the steam trams presumably running their last revenue-earning services the day before. Earlier that month, the steamers had also ceased to work Rawtenstall Corporation's Lockgate to Rawtenstall line, Rawtenstall Corporation taking over on the 1st October 1908; the latter operated steam services to the Haslingden boundary for another nine months, when this last remnant of the ACSTCo's system was finally converted to electric traction.

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.

All photographs which can be securely dated to the period when Haslingden Corporation operated its own tramway services — the 1st January to the 5th September 1908 (or possibly the 28th) — show staff wearing informal attire. Engine drivers wore typical railway footplate-like attire, with conductors in fairly smart workman-like attire comprising: jacket, trousers, shirt and ties and the fashionable headgear of the day, invariably the flat cap. No insignia of any kind appears to have been worn.

Although motormen and conductors working services over Haslingden Corporation's tracks were employees of Rawtenstall and Accrington Corporations, Haslingden Corporation did in fact employ the services of a uniformed tramway inspector, a fact which is recorded in the council minutes (my thanks to Phil Calvey for this information). No photographs have survived that unequivocally show a Haslingden Corporation Tramways inspector, so it is unclear what uniforms they wore. It is however possible that they wore the same pattern of cap badge as was used later (i.e., after the demise of the trams) on Haslingden Corporation Transport uniform caps.

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
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 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 photograph 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
A Haslingden municipal device badge — nickel. This badge was definitely worn on the caps of uniformed Haslingden Corporation Transport employees after the demise of the tramway. It was potentially also worn by Haslingden Corporation inspectors during the tramway era, though photographs that would either prove or refute this are yet to come to light. Photo courtesy of Richard Hargreaves.