TRAMS ~ DEARNE VALLEY AND BARNSLEY AREA.
The Dearne District Light Railway was originally planned in 1915, but World
War 1 delayed its completion until 1924. A fleet of 30 single deck trams,
with 36 seats, were built by the English Electric Company at Preston, in
1924/5 for the service. The line was a joint venture between the councils
of Wombwell, Wath and Bolton-on-Dearne to provide a frequent service to
Barnsley from outlying villages.
The system opened on 14th July 1924 and ran from the Alhambra Theatre, in
Barnsley, via Doncaster Road through Stairfoot, Wombwell and West Melton to
Wath-upon-Dearne, where a low bridge precluded the use of double-deck
tramcars. It had been hoped to form a junction with the Barnsley and
District tramway to permit through running in the town centre, but
negotiations between the two companies stalled and the terminus remained at
From Wath, a branch line of some 1½ miles went south to the Woodman Inn at
Swinton, whilst a second branch line went 5 miles north to Thurnscoe. The
main route continued eastward for another mile to meet the Mexborough and
Swinton trolleybus service at Manvers Main Colliery. Fierce competition
motorbuses resulted in mounting losses for the tramway and in 1929 a
non-competition agreement was reached with Yorkshire Traction. The line
lasted just nine years in total and closed on 30th September 1933, its
services being replaced by motorbuses. Yorkshire Traction's former
bus depot, known locally as "Car Barns", was the original tram shed.
The Dearne District Light Railway was the last tramway system to be built
the UK until the new generation Manchester Metrolink opened on 6th April
As the Dearne District trams were relatively new, many were sold on for
further service, with 4 passing to Lytham-St-Annes and 5 travelling north
the border to Falkirk. Others gained 2nd lives as sheds, farm buildings
summer houses and one such car may still be seen in a field near Penistone.
I am now doing a series of walking tours of Chester on the transport
heritage of the city. They are proving extremely popular. Chester trams,
like Barnsley tram, were abandoned early in 1930. Very few people knew of
them till we recently discovered that one of the trams still survived.
The only relics in Barnsley, that I am aware of, are in the "Cutting" in
Worsbrough Bridge where the sawn off remains of the tram wire poles are
clearly visible in the wall on the western side. Other than that, apart
from the remains of the siding along side the sheds in Upper Sheffield Road
(now part of Tracky's bus depot), I am not aware of any other remains in
As a point of interest, the Smithies route had a bad accident in 1907, when
one of the double deck cars went out of control on the hill of Eldon St, and
crashed through the front of a shop at the junction with Old Mill Lane.
After this accident, the Smithies service was provided by a single deck, one
person operated car, with Worsbrough services terminating in the town
If you would like any more info about Barnsley trams, please contact me. I
have many sources of information available through my membership of the
Tramway Preservation Society.