20th February 1892

Guernsey Railway Company runs its first services

Guernsey Railway Company was born out of an earlier incarnation, the Guernsey Steam Tramway. Its only line, which ran from St Peter Port to St Sampson and back was the second street tram in the British Isles to use overhead wires to deliver an electric current.

For its first year in operation, Guernsey Railway Company didn’t actually own the line itself. It leased it from Siemens, who had electrified it, until satisfied that it was working without any hitches. Its predecessor had operated eight engines, but the Railway Company started with two, and capacity to double that if needed. It maintained a depot at Houge a la Pierre, and the building that housed the generator and invested in its fleet over time. The third tram arrived five years after the service launched, in 1897.

A self-sufficient railway

Guernsey didn’t have public mains electricity when the service opened, so the Guernsey Railway Company generated its own. It used a steam boiler to turn a turbine at 575rpm, producing 500 volts at 85 kilowatts.

To guarantee its popularity, the Guernsey Railway Company killed the competition. It bought out the horse-drawn bus company for £4500 in 1895, but this turned out to be a short-lived fix. Motor-powered buses arrived on the island in 1909 and provided more flexible services at lower costs.

The service was hugely popular, carrying a million passengers. It took ten minutes to get from one end of the line to the other, which was quick. but it was also expensive. The 9d per mile it cost to run compared poorly with the 5 1/2d cost to run the bus. Perhaps inevitably, it didn’t survive, and the service was wound up on 9 June 1934. Work began on lifting the tracks on 11 June.


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Other events that occured in February

Mail ship wrecked on Black Rock 1st
Oil rig stranded at Grandes Rocques
Birth of Generaloberst Friedrich Dollmann 2nd
Death of Sir Charles Hayward 3rd
St Martin’s parish church consecrated 4th
Guernsey suffers its worst storm in 35 years 5th
Guernsey watchmaker helps Stone of Scone manhunt 6th
Guernsey Language Commission formed 7th
Queen Mary executed while wearing Guernsey stockings 8th
Guernsey gets its first postbox
Guernsey Society celebrates its 70th anniversary 9th
Guernsey’s last execution didn’t go according to plan 10th
The last issue of GUNS was distributed 11th
Alderney gets its first full-time radio station 12th
Guernsey’s last duel 13th
Specsavers’ Mary Perkins was born 14th
Blue Islands takes to the skies
Guernsey gets its own flag 15th
Birth of concrete poet Dom Sylvester Houedard 16th
HMS Guernsey launched in Aberdeen 17th
Guernsey’s first Methodist minister arrives 18th
Aurigny Air Services founded 19th
Guernsey Railway Company runs its first services 20th
The Channel Islands were cut off from the outside world 21st
St Sampson was ordained a bishop 22nd
Death of Thomas Fiott de Havilland 23rd
Murder inquiry ends with suicide 24th
Death of occupation resister Marie Ozanne 25th
Guernsey’s first banker dies 26th
Release of Reverend Harry Samuel 27th
Plans for St Sampson power station approved 28th
Second World War bomb detonated 29th