Colne Corporation Transport
In 1817, horse-drawn coaches were recorded as
providing a service from Manchester to Burnley and Colne on Sundays, Mondays,
Wednesdays and Fridays, and, in 1824, the 'John Bull' was recorded running to
Skipton, Burnley and Colne every Saturday and Sunday
afternoon and every Tuesday evening through Rawtenstall. 'The Union' ran to
Colne every Sunday, Thursday and Friday afternoon, every Monday evening, every Tuesday evening
and every Wednesday and
Saturday evening, passing through Rawtenstall and Burnley. By this time Colne
was well served by stage coaches.
Horse omnibuses appeared in Colne as early as
when an infrequent service to nearby Burnley, travelling via the main roads,
commenced. The service was apparently not a commercial success and part of it
(between Nelson and Burnley) was later replaced by the steam trams of the
Burnley & District Tramways Company, although the horse drawn omnibus
presumably continued to ply between Colne and Nelson.
The first tramway in Colne was constructed
under the Colne and Trawden Light Railway Order of 1901, and operated by the Leeds firm of Batley and
Greenwood (trading as the Colne and Trawden Light
Railway Co. Ltd) .
On the 24th March 1914, Colne Corporation purchased the entire
system (even though part was within the boundary of Trawden UDC), changing the
tramways title to Colne Corporation Light Railways. The company had already
fitted canopy top-covers to half of the fleet and Colne fitted canopies to the
Unfortunately, the advent of World War 1 shortly afterwards,
left the fleet and track in a rundown state and a programme of renovation had to
be commenced in 1919. In 1921 three second-hand Tilling-Stevens chassis were
purchased and fitted with new bus bodies, but, because the Corporation lacked
running powers, except in the case of tramway breakdowns, they were little used
and were soon withdrawn. New tramcars were delivered in 1921 and 1926, liveried in royal
blue and white until 1923, then maroon and white thereafter, and a new larger
depot opened in Standroyd Road, adjacent to the original one in Heifer Lane.
In January 1923, the first bus route running
from Skipton Road to Earby, via Foulridge commenced, and the old tram depot began to be used for the
Corporation's growing bus fleet.
Colne was heavily involved in the textile
industry and in the
1920's suffered from a slump in trade. The tramway saw its small profits used by
the Council to support other areas. Competition from private bus operators
increased, and, with the state of the track declining, economy measures were sought.
This resulted in the conversion (in 1924-1925) of two of the tramcars
to single-deck by the removal of their upper decks and staircases, for
On 19th October 1926 the Laneshawbridge tram route was closed, to be
replaced by a bus service. This was followed on 3rd June 1928 by the Heifer Lane to Trawden section,
Trawden being served by motorbuses from Colne town centre. Now only the section of
tramway track from the tram shed to Nelson remained in use.
In April 1927, a fourth bus service was
inaugurated. The route ran from Cumberland Street in
Colne to Keighley, via Cowling and Crosshills, and was an extension of the
Laneshawbridge route. It was operated jointly with Keighley Corporation and Ezra
Laycock of Cowling (later bought out by the Joint Committee), who had been running
between Laneshawbridge and Keighley.
On the 1st April 1933 (under the Colne Corporation Act of 1933),
Colne, along with the neighbouring towns of Burnley and Nelson, amalgamated
their transport departments to form the Burnley, Colne and Nelson Joint Transport
Committee. The remaining section of tramway passed to the new authority, along
with Colne's motorbuses and services, bringing to an end the short 19 year
history of Colne Corporation Transport.
In producing this history
reference has been made to the following sources;
The Directory of British Tramways (Keith Turner, PSL 1996); Trams in the North
West (Peter Hesketh, Ian Allan 1995); Burnley, Colne & Nelson Joint
Transport (Alan Catlow, Wyvern 1985); PSV Circle Fleet History RC5 (1958).
1914-1933 | Tram Fleet List 1914-1933 | Bus
Fleet List 1921-1933 |