22nd January 1889

Guernsey Steam Tramway stops running

There’s no longer any evidence of the route it used to take between St Peter Port and St Sampson, but for many years Guernsey had a steam tram linking the island’s two main towns.

The Steam Tramway, which had been set up with two engines running on three miles of track, had only been operating ten years when the trams ground to a halt. The journey from one end of the line to the other took 18 minutes, initially with just one tram leaving every hour. There was only one line, but it had passing places that allowed one tram to get out of the way of the other.

It proved massively popular in an era where cars were a rarity. The first motor vehicle was only invented in the mid–1880s, so transport in Guernsey would have otherwise been by bike, foot or horse. The tramway therefore quickly expanded, with four new engines being added to the fleet within its first four years of operation.

But perhaps the Tramway owners should have looked a little further ahead. While they were investing in rolling stock, the first excitement over the tramway’s presence was waning and the number of people using it was starting to decline. Thus, on 22 January 1889, the tramway had no choice but to cease all operations.

The steam tramway returns… of sorts

Fortunately for the people of Guernsey, it was only a suspension rather than a definitive termination of the service. The company changed its name to the Guernsey Railway Company and resumed its operations in December of the same year.

The name change was just the first step in a more extensive reorganisation of the service, though. German manufacturing giant, Siemens, electrified the track in 1892 and leased it back to the Guernsey Railway Company for the next twelve months following the introduction of the first electric rail services. When the opening year was up, Siemens sold the line to the Guernsey operator.

This modern incarnation fared better than the steam tramway had done, but still only persisted for a little more than 40 years. It finally closed down in 1934 and the tracks were quickly removed, which is why there is no longer any sign of the route either it or the original tramway used to ply on the island.


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. We'll also keep you up to date with our latest book releases and early-bird discounts.


Other events that occured in January

Alderney elects its first president 1st
Guille and Alles open their library 2nd
Guernsey bans smoking in public places 3rd
Guernsey Press registers its domain 4th
Guernsey Zoo is sold as a going concern 5th
Guernsey opens its wartime files
Guernsey Police moves to its new headquarters 6th
Guernsey Fisher makes its maiden voyage 7th
Work begins on the Val des Terres 8th
A hotel porter goes on trial for murder 9th
Guernsey Police Service appoints its first inspector 10th
Royal theft inquiry heads to Guernsey 11th
Channel Express Airways plane crashes in Guernsey 12th
Sibyl Hathaway, Dame of Sark, is born 13th
Channel Television disappears 14th
Benefactor Osmond de Beauvoir Priaulx dies 15th
MV Prosperity is wrecked at Perelle 16th
Guernsey’s Royal Court sits for the first time 17th
Doctor Who travels to Guernsey 18th
Channel 4 gameshow Treasure Hunt comes to Guernsey 19th
Hanois Lighthouse is cut off by the weather 20th
Guernsey-built prototype plane crashes 21st
Guernsey Steam Tramway stops running 22nd
Radiant Med sinks with loss of life 23rd
Guernsey wins gold at the Commonwealth Games 24th
Sark is awarded Dark-Sky status 25th
Guernsey passengers are battered by storms 26th
Sir Isaac Newton has his say on a mysterious Guernsey invention 27th
Guernsey’s last witch trial takes place 28th
Guernsey poet George Métivier is born 29th
The States of Guernsey proposes a new airport 30th
Guernsey lifeboat performs a chemical tanker rescue 31st