LRTA logo Light Rail Transit Association
Light Rail for better public transport

London Trams in the Second World War

Eddie Dawes, 20th March 2018

Eddie's presentation covered the period from the immediate build up to the following Neville Chamberlain's return from Munich on 30th September 1938 through to the final Japanese surrender on the 2nd September 1945. The pictorial part of the presentation covered tram and trolleybus operation through the entire period in chronological order; on-screen notes showing dates when known as well as details of contemporary wartime events elsewhere.

The first nine months of the war saw the final closure of tram routes running entirely north of the River Thames in favour of trolleybuses in four stages. The configuration of the London tramway network making the routes concerned very largely operationally separate from those running via the Kingsway Subway that were to survive into the post war era.

Despite restrictions on photography plenty of pictures were taken of trams in service as well as official views recording damage to cars, track and depots through enemy action. The speed with which track repairs were carried out to restore services seems incredibly rapid by present day standards. Conduit track reconstruction being considerably more complex than that on conventional overhead powered lines - London was probably the only such system to have operated under such sustained bombardment.

Eddie had collated a huge amount of information about the events of the period and his presentation was well received by all those present.

Geoffrey Tribe

London Area - 20th March 2018


Meeting Report top of page