Fact of the day: 4th March

On this day in 1882 Britain’s first electric trams ran in London.

Electric trams (known as streetcars or trolleys in North America) were first experimentally installed in Saint Petersburg, Russia, invented and tested by Fyodor Pirotsky as early as 1880. These trams, like virtually all others mentioned in this section, used either a trolley pole or a pantograph, to feed power from electric wires strung above the tram route. Nevertheless, there were early experiments with battery-powered trams but these appear to have all been unsuccessful. The first trams in Bendigo, Australia, in 1892, were battery-powered but within as little as three months they were replaced with horse-drawn trams. In New York City some minor lines also used storage batteries. Then, comparatively recently, during the 1950s, a longer battery-operated tramway line ran from Milan to Bergamo.

The first electric street tramway in Britain, the Blackpool Tramway, was opened on 29 September 1885 using conduit collection along Blackpool Promenade. Since the closure of the Glasgow Corporation Tramways in 1962, this has been the only first-generation operational tramway in the UK.

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