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Stony Stratford


The Stony Stratford to Wolverton tram, at the Forester's Arms
The Stony Stratford Tram

Visiting Stony Stratford today, it is hard to imagine that for almost 40 years the town had a tramcar service with the largest tramcars ever to run through the streets of a British town.
The Wolverton to Stony Stratford tramway was opened in 1887. The service was extended to run as far as the village of Deanshanger in 1888, but was withdrawn within two years as it proved uneconomic in operation. The tracks remained for years afterwards.

The rolling stock included two engines, two tramcars built to hold 80 and one for 20 people, and two were built to hold 100. They had no power of their own. The upper deck of the large tramcars had curtains, and at various stages of their life carried advertising for local businesses. Adverts even appeared on the locomotives pulling the tram.

Passenger seats were arranged sideways in the upper and lower decks. In the early days the upper deck of the tramcars was also completely open-sided, then "modesty panels" were added.
It was a normal part of local life, travelling along roads which were - by today's standards - amazingly free of traffic. A weekly ticket could be purchased entitling the traveller to four rides per day. The fee from Wolverton to Stony Stratford was 2d. The Stratford terminus was for most of it's life outside the Cock Hotel.
The largest tramcars had primarily been designed to bring workmen to and from Wolverton Works. The smaller tramcar was originally used for the Deanshanger arm of the tram route, but when this service ceased it was used for off-peak times between Wolverton and Stony Stratford. The Wolverton to Stony Stratford tram was unusual in that it travelled through open countryside between the two towns. The tram earned a steady income from the Wolverton works staff but but it was sometimes in !n accidents and was derailed and resuming normal service took some time and organising!
the tram in open country
Near to Russell Street in Stony Stratford the tram entered a depot and circled round the back of the houses in a loop, thus turning round to return to Wolverton. Later, a "run-round loop" was added outside the Foresters Arms as in the illustration at the top of the page and the map below, from 1900.

One 'famous' personality on the trams was 'Little Billy', a Mr. Newton who was a very short man (under 5 feet tall) who was jovial friendly and very popular. He worked as a conductor.

Map of Stony Stratford showing route of tram
the tram outside the Foresters Arms 1903 Foresters Arms corner - 2003
The tram outside the Foresters Arms in 1903
The same view 100 years later
The running of the tram service had been taken over by the London & North Western Railway, and this stabilised the business. However, other forms of transport began to rival the tram: a coach could do 30 miles an hour - the tram did only 8 or 9. Even bicycles were faster than the tram, when ridden by younger men!

In 1924, the London & North Western Railway was incorporated into the newly-formed London Midland & Scottish Railway group. The tram service was maintained, but for some years it had been losing money heavily. When the General Strike came in 1926, the tram service was suspended. It never resumed.

The tram tracks were dug up and removed, and the tramcars sold or dismantled.

The Tram in LMS days
The Stony Stratford and Wolverton tram may be gone, but it is not forgotten.

To read the full story of the tram with pictures of it in operation, together with details of the full restoration of one of the 100-seat tramcars, visit the Milton Keynes Museum website feature by clicking here.

The restored tramcar at Milton Keynes Museum