Victorian London - Transport - Road - Trams - Tramways

see also Richard Rowe in Life in the London Streets - click here

    The nobility and gentry —not 'of the Walworth road'; as Mr. Gerridge, the gasfitter, has it in Caste—but of Victoria Street, Westminster, are up in arms against the proposed construction of tramways through that imposing but still incomplete thoroughfare; and a committee, numbering over one hundred and twenty influential inhabitants of the locality, has been formed to oppose the threatened invasion of street cars. Earls, architects, C.E.’s, F.G.S’s, MA’s, MD’s, M.P.’s, CB’s, and Mr. Arthur Sullivan are on the committee.   
    Moreover, a highly representative meeting has been held at Tattersall’s, at which resolutions were moved strongly condemnatory of the scheme of running continuous tramways from Victoria Street, through Pimlico, up Sloane Street (dear old Sloane Street Cagliostro lived there once, and sold pills of long life), by Knightsbridge and Kensington Gore, through High Street, Kensington, to Hammersmith; and, if to Hammersmith, why not to Turuham Green, to Chiswick, to Row Bridge, to Richmond, Twickenham, and Brentford? Imagine the Three Kings of Brentford all coming to town in one tram-car! ‘Rien n’est sacré pour un sapeur!’ the brazen Thérèse used to sing. Nor does there appear to be much that is sacred to a tramway company.
    There can be scarcely any doubt that, at the West End, tramways would be an intolerable nuisance. The lovely drive to Richmond would be spoilt, as the drive to Greenwich has been spoilt, by these subversive aids to locomotion. The shopkeepers of Oxford Street are being menaced with a tramway. Take care. More than the thin end of the wedge has been inserted; and ere long Regent Street may be threatened, and Piccadilly find itself in peril.
    On the other hand, I rode recently from Lamb’s Conduit Fields to the Standard Theatre in Shoreditch, through that prodigious thoroughfare from west to east, which has been opened up by the Metropolitan Board of Works, A great portion of the road is laid with tramways; and there can be no doubt that in these far outlying, densely populated, and incessantly busy districts tramways are a distinct boon and blessing.
    I remembered, driving home, that, some months ago, I had at a certain town hall taken the chair at a public meeting, held in advocacy of the extension of tramways westward from the New Clerkenwell Road to Theobald’s Road. It rarely passed a wore diverting evening. It was a little exciting, too. There was a strong anti-tramway party at the back of the hall, who persistently yelled ‘Free streets!' and’ It’s a put-up job!' Towards the close of the evening the anti-tramway party tried to storm the platform, with the avowed object of ‘smashing the chairman.’ One burly gentleman, whose vocation, seemingly, was that of a brewer’s drayman, made desperate efforts to scale the stairs of the platform, shouting, ‘ Let me git at the willin’ in the vile veskit. On’y let me git at the willin’ in the vite veskit!’ I was the villain in the objectionable vest. There was a little old lady, too, in a red shawl, who, standing just in front of me, shook her fist implacably, shrilly expressing her fixed belief that I was ‘one of them Jesuits,’ and openly declaring her ardent desire to ‘lam’ me. What is it to be ‘lammed’?

George Augustus Sala Living London 1882


AIR - "Mary had a little Lamb."

LONDON had a demon Tram,
Huge, lumbering, noisy, slow;
And everywhere that London went,
That Tram was sure to go.
An Ogre-pet, a Frankenstein;
Where'er man's footsteps fell
Was heard the thunder of its tramp,
The tinkling of its bell.
Oh, Nature! your so vaunted course
Is surely but a sham,
You "bring not back the Mastodon,"
But will you take the Tram?

Punch, February 17, 1883

see also A.R.Bennett in London and Londoners - click here