Cambridge Borough Council approves the principle of electric trams for Cambridge. 1904

Does that motion still apply today?

An interesting little snippet on the possible electrification of the old horse drawn trams, from the British Newspaper Archive. Turns out the borough council as was, approved a motion on the principle of electric street cars to replace the horse drawn trams. If only!

CAMBRIDGE TOWN COUNCIL.

Electric Street Cars. Agreement with the New Syndicate

“The September meeting of the Cambridge Town Council, which was held yesterday (Thursday) morning, was, as is usual at this season of the year, but thinly attended, in spite of the fact that the subjects down for discussion and decision were of the greatest importance.

“The principal business was the reception and consideration of lengthy report from the Law and Property Committee, to which were referred in March last communications from gentlemen on behalf of the Cambridge Electric Tramways Syndicate with reference to the electrification and extension of the Cambridge Street Tramways. Convinced that the present one-horsed arrangement might be improved upon, the Council in April approved of the principle of electric street cars almost without a single dissentient, and, in accordance with the resolution then arrived at, the Committee proceeded enter into negotiations with the Syndicate.

“The result of these negotiations, with the Committee’s recommendations, were contained in the report presented yesterday. In brief, the Committee advised the Council to give its approval to the Parliarmentary Bill which the Syndicate proposes to promote, reserving the right to purchase the undertaking at stated times on certain terms, in return for waiving its right to acquire the present tramway system in 1907.

“This portion of the report dealing solely with the financial aspect of the question, met with little real opposition, although one or two members urged that the thinness of the meeting was sufficient justification for the adjournment of the whole question. This, Alderman Spalding explained, would seriously delay matters, and this portion of the report was then agreed to.

“The routes suggested by Messrs. Kincaid, Waller, Manville, and Dawson, and approved and recommended by the Committee, provided a bone of contention, with which the members wrestled for some considerable time. Alderman Deck had previously uttered his protest against overhead wires and unsightly iron columns, which, he contended, would ruin the beauty of our streets, and dispel the collegiate appearance of the ancient town. The same sentiment seemed to actuate other members of the Council, who contemplated with a feeling approaching horror the desecration of Queens’ road and the Backs of the Colleges.

“Alderman Matthew, who disclaimed such sentiment, proposed that this route be disapproved, on account of the danger which would be caused by the increase of traffic in Silver-street, but this was rejected, and the cars, when they come, will ply along Queens’-road and Silver street.

“An ingenious amendment, proposed by Councillor Morley, compelling the Syndicate to complete the Mill-road, and the Railway Station to Hobson-street routes within two years of the passing of the Act, was accepted.

“Councillor Morley also sought to secure the completion of the scheme in its entirety within three and half years, but, in this, he was unsuccessful, and an alternative proposal, brought forward by Councillor Whibley, that the question of the completion of the remaining routes should form the subject of a conference between the Law and Property Committee and the Syndicate, was accepted.

“The report and recommendations of the Committee were, therefore, practically adopted, and the Town Clerk was authorised to affix the official seal to any document which might be necessary to give effect to the resolutions arrived at. This concluded a discussion which occupied the Council from 10.30 until one o’clock.”

One old postcard from the Cambridgeshire Collection [ask for Ref Q.Ae.K14 11124.]- the shocking impact!

It’s also worth noting that there were proposals to extend the old horse-drawn network as well. This from October 1899 in the Cambridge Independent Press from the British Newspaper Archive.

…which puts into context the decisions present councillors on the Combined Authority and the Greater Cambridge Partnership Board will have to make in the near future. Because future generations will be stuck with whatever they choose.

Food for thought?

If you enjoyed this article and are interested in the history of Cambridge the town and the people who made our modern city, please support my research in bringing their records of achievement to wider audiences. Click here if you would like to make a donation or take out a small subscription to support my ongoing work.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s