Tram system

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LARA ERA Industrial
LARA Record Number 11.9

Description

The Lincoln tram system was a simple network as the steep hill made access to the upper city from the lower difficult. The scheme granted permission in 1880 was planned to run from Bracebridge to St Benedict's Square along High Street, and from Carholme to the Arboretum, but it seems that only the High Street route was ever built. Initially the system was operated by horse-haulage, but it was electrified in 1905. The tramway ceased operation in 1929. The remains of the tram rails and of the metal studs that provided power supply will be encountered during routine road works and should be recorded when revealed. At present little seems to be known of the engineering involved in the electric power system, although Lincoln's should be compared with those in cities which are better understood. A research agenda for some structures of this type is provided in the Step 1 Report for the Electricity Industry (Trueman 1994). It is known, however, that the Griffith-Bedell system of transmission, by which power was supplied by studs in the road, was rare and technologically complex (White 1989, 114). Any surviving remains of this early power system will be of interest, and might be seen as a civic reflection of Lincoln's interest in innovative industrial technology in the years leading up to the First World War. The conversion to electricity followed the takeover of the system by the City Council is one of several examples of late-Victorian reclamation of public enterprise from the private sector, and might be seen as a civic gesture towards innovation in industry. Perhaps because of its technological sophistication, the power system did not work well and in 1919 a conventional overhead power supply was constructed. The stanchions for this supply are likely to be encountered during road works and should be recorded. The depot at the southern end of the system survives, at the corner of Newark Road and Ellison Street, Bracebridge (Herridge 1999, 5059), bearing the datestone of 1882. This is a relatively rare survival of this category of building nationally and it requires careful recording during repair and/or conversion. Not only will important technical information be available buried in the floor, but the measures taken to convert the horse tram system to run on electricity will be of considerable interest, particularly as the transmission system used was so novel.

LARA Boundaries

The RAZ boundary is marked by the outer edges of the pavement of High Street as depicted on the 1st edition O.S. between St Benedict's Square and the terminus at Bracebridge. These boundaries should include the buried remains of stanchions along the route.