13th August 1877
Guernsey steam tramway is granted its concession
Guernsey once had a fully fledged steam railway. The Guernsey Steam Tramway company was granted a concession to run services on 2 May 1877, which was confirmed by an Order in Council on 13 August the same year. However, the service didn’t start operating for another two years, with the first trains running between St Peter Port and St Sampson on 6 June 1879.
On 22 November 1879, a letter appeared in The Star from Henry Brady, who described himself as the company’s solicitor to whom the concession for the line had been granted personally, before he transferred ownership to a company set up by a Mr J Howard. As the Act of Parliament that had authorised the formation of the company stipulated must happen, Brady had resigned from the company so that two Guernsey directors could be appointed in his place.
Guernsey Steam Tramway grumbler
However, not everyone approved of the service. In the same issue, another letter, from a correspondent signing off as Diogenes, took issue with safety arrangements, pointing out that, “when a few more accidents have occurred and a few lives have been lost in consequence of the defective arrangements for carrying on the traffic of the line, the authorities may awaken from the lethargic state in which they seem to be happily existing at present.”
Diogenes’ main complaint was that while a watchman had been stationed at Hogue a la Pere hill, he had no real authority, as a policeman would have had in the same position. As a result, cab drivers were taking no notice of his safety instructions. “To expect cabdrivers to possess caution, or even an average amount of common sense, is quite out of the question,” he claimed. “Possibly when a dozen or more little children, and an old lady or two, have been run over, a law may be passed, and certain officials appointed to see that the law is carried out, to prevent the [tram] cars from proceeding at a greater speed than six to eight miles an hour from the town to the Hogue a la Pere.”
FREE Guernsey history newsletter
Don't miss our weekly update on Guernsey's fascinating history. We promise never to sell your data to anyone else, and there's a super-easy unsubscribe link on the bottom of each email so you can leave whenever you want.