Steam and Electric Trams in Rochdale

This is an interesting example of the transition from steam trams to electric trams. Most towns and cities in the UK had a network of steam tram routes in the late Victorian period, operated by private companies. Local authorities took on the responsibility for generating electricity in their areas and it made sense to use some of it to convert their tramways to a cleaner, faster, more reliable form of motive-power. They purchased the private tram companies and public transport became, well, public. We’ve flipped between state-owned and private-sector public transport ever since, depending on the views of the politicians in power at the time. The steam tram shown here is an encased steam locomotive pulling a non-powered tramcar.

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