Authority to construct a tramway in Pontypridd was given under the Pontypridd
and Rhondda Valley Tramways Order of 1882, although by 1887 only a small section
of the tramway, running from the edge of Pontypridd to the village of Porth, had
been built by the tramway company. The well-known entrepreneur, Solomon Andrews
took over construction of the line from the Pontypridd and Rhondda Valley
Tramways Company and it commenced operations later in the year, although the
exact date is unknown. The tramway was single-track throughout and ran from The
Square at Porth to the Taff Vale Railway's viaduct on the Rhondda line at
Pontypridd, which prevented the Tramway Company's double-deck cars (and the line
itself) from being extended further into the town.
In 1890, however, the Company went into liquidation and was purchased by
another of Andrews' concerns, the South Wales Property, Machinery and Carriage
Company and operated until 1898 when it was sold to the British Electric
Traction Company. The agreement of the local authorities to electrify and extend
the line was not forthcoming and, in February 1902, after an attack of glanders
killed most of the tramway horses, the services were terminated.
Pontypridd UDC had already made plans to purchase and electrify the line, and
work on the reconstruction had begun in July 1903 with an opening date set for
March 1905. The Pontypridd and Rhondda Valley Tramways Company was eventually
purchased on 31st October 1904.
The tramway officially opened on the 5th March 1905 and ran from
the town centre to Treforest railway station, with a branch line connecting to
Cilfynydd, which was worked as a single route via Pontypridd. In 1908 the
tramway was connected to the Rhondda system at the Trehafod boundary, where
passengers were required to change cars until July 1919 when through running
commenced, although this was abandoned in December 1927 after endless
disagreements between the two towns. By this time, however, the Pontypridd
system was experiencing difficulties; the Cilfynydd line was in need of
expensive refurbishment, which the small town could ill afford and plans were
made to replace the trams. In 1929 Pontypridd UDC obtained powers to operate
motorbuses and trolleybuses, and, on 18th September 1930, the
Treforest to Cilfynydd section was converted to trolleybus operation. Seven
single-deck 32-seat English Electric trolleybuses (Nos. 1-7) formed the initial
fleet. The following year, on 30th August 1931, the remaining line to
Trehafod was closed and motorbuses took over, the through service to Porth being
operated jointly with Rhondda. The first motorbus service had commenced in June
the previous year when a service between Pontypridd and Rhydfelin had been
inaugurated using four Bristol B-type single-deckers. The Bristol chassis
subsequently became a regular choice for Pontypridd UDC.
The new trolleybus service proved extremely popular, so much so that at busy
periods it was necessary to supplement the trolleybuses with tramcars, and so
the exact date of the last tram is uncertain. As a result additional
trolleybuses were soon purchased and in early 1931 a pair of demonstrators
arrived. The first was a Guy BTX with Guy H59R bodywork, followed shortly
afterwards by a Bristol E with Beadle H60R bodywork, one of only two ever built.
Both demonstrators were purchased in 1932. The trolleybus service was now
established and continued unchanged until the advent of the Second World War,
when wartime demands saw several trolleybuses arrive on loan.
Further motorbus services were established throughout the 1930's, principally
to Caerphilly (jointly with Caerphilly UDC), to Ynysybwl (jointly with Rhondda
and Red & White) and to the Treforest Trading Estate, which was established
to entice alternative industries to the area in view of the high unemployment in
the coal mining industry.
In 1945 Pontypridd ordered eight Karrier trolleybuses to replace the ageing
fleet, and these were delivered over a period commencing with Nos. 10-11
(FNY983-984) in March 1945 and ending with the arrival of Nos. 8-9 (GNY301-302)
towards the end of 1946. The business of Jones Brothers of Treharris, who were
operating stage services from Pontypridd to Blackwood and to Bedlinog, along
with two vehicles and works services to Pontllanfraith was acquired in 1945,
jointly with three neighbouring authorities.
In 1950 the Transport Manager drew the Council's attention to the economics
of maintaining such a small fleet of trolleybuses, and, with little prospect of
expansion it was suggested that motorbuses would be more viable. As it happened
no action was taken at this juncture, but the question was raised again in 1954,
when the operating costs of the trolleybuses was shown to be around 3d a mile
more than motorbuses. Again the matter was deferred since the extra running
costs were considered to be too marginal to warrant expenditure on additional
motorbuses. In 1955, however, with the trolleybuses regularly being replaced by
motorbuses when out of service, the Council again debated the future of the
trolleybuses and this time agreed that the system should be abandoned from the
31st October 1956. In the event, delays in the delivery of new
motorbuses meant that the final abandonment did not take place until 31st
January 1957; all the vehicles being sold for service elsewhere. The existing
Rhydfelin service was linked to the Cilfynydd service, and the Treforest section
became a single-deck route.
New vehicles arriving in the fleet over the next few years included the AEC
Reliance, which was to become the standard single-deck vehicle, whilst the AEC
Regent V was purchased as the standard double-decker.
With passenger numbers falling, a move to one-man operation was proposed that
necessitated the linking of several services previously operated independently.
Double-deckers were thus usually confined to school journeys, and to the
principal routes to Glyncoch and Rhydfelin, although eventually these too were
converted. Subsequently all new vehicles were capable of one-man operation and
included a number of Leyland Nationals.
In October 1969, rationalisation of the bus network took place, with
Pontypridd taking over sole operation of the route to Glyncoch, whilst the Porth
service was handed over to Rhondda Transport and the Ynysybwl service to Red
& White. Pontypridd also relinquished their journeys on the former Jones
Brothers routes, which were essentially loss making.
Under local government re-organisation, which took place in 1974, Pontypridd
UDC became Taff-Ely District Council. The Transport Department was little
changed but assumed the name of the new District Council.
In 1983 a number of second-hand Atlanteans enabled most of the AEC Regents, which
were unsuitable for one-man operation to be withdrawn.
On the 26th October 1986 the enactment of the 1985 Transport Act
led to the Council setting up an 'arms-length' limited company known as Taff-Ely
Transport Ltd., effectively ending municipal services after over 80 years,
although the Council still retained the majority shareholding.
This history covers the
period of municipal operations of Pontypridd UDC and Taff-Ely District Council,
which effectively ended on 26th October 1986 with the enactment of the 1985
Transport Act (de-regulation), and in preparing this history reference has been
made to the following sources:
The Directory of British Tramways (Keith Turner, PSL 1996); Pontypridd
Trolleybus System (AG Newman, Buses No. 275, Feb 1978);Taff-Ely Transport (Roy
Marshall, Buses No. 412, July 1989); Municipal Buses in Colour (Reg Wilson, Ian
Allan 1997); PSV Circle Fleet History PG3 (1980).
1905-1986 | Tram Fleet List 1905-1931 | Trolleybus
Fleet List 1930-1957 | Bus Fleet List 1930-1986 |