Yorkshire (West Riding) Electric Tramways Co. Ltd.
Registered on the 4th April 1905 and authorised under the West Riding Tramways Act of 1904, the Yorkshire (West Riding) Electric Tramways Co Ltd was a subsidiary of the Yorkshire Electric Tramways Construction Syndicate Ltd - who had been empowered by the West Riding Tramways Act of 1904 to acquire, construct and operate a network of tramway services in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Although some 50 miles of tramway was proposed, most was never constructed, and the mainstay of the system was the Wakefield and District Light Railway Co Ltd, who had already commenced operations on 15th August 1904 and was taken over on the 4th April 1905.
The tramcar fleet as acquired consisted of 55 double-deck trams, built by the Electric Railway and Tramway Carriage Works of Preston. Nos. 1-30, delivered in 1904, were open-top, whilst Nos. 31-55 were delivered in 1905 with top covers. The livery was initially crimson lake and cream, but during the First World War cars were painted brown and grey before a livery of two shades of green was finally adopted in the early 1920’s.
On the 29th October 1906 a line linking Normanton, Castleford and Pontefract was opened and although powers were granted for lines from Wakefield to Normanton, and from Castleford to Rothwell, which would have connected the two sections, they were never built and the Castleford tramway remained isolated from the Wakefield and District system. The initial rolling stock consisted of sixteen former Wakefield and District cars (Nos. 23-38), which had to be hauled by steam traction engines to the new depot in Wheldon Road, Castleford for the commencement of services. This depot was destroyed by fire on the 5th March 1917, along with eight tramcars. Replacement cars were loaned by Leeds Corporation and subsequently purchased.
By the early 1920’s it had become apparent that an extension of the tramway system would not be feasible and it was agreed that a fleet of motorbuses would be acquired. Consequently £30,000 was set aside for the purchase of 22 Bristol 4-ton vehicles, which were delivered in time for services to commence on Easter Monday 1922. 13 similar vehicles were ordered for delivery the following year.
On the 16th November 1923, the Company registered a wholly owned subsidiary – the West Riding Automobile Company Ltd, which would be solely responsible for the operation of the new fleet of motorbuses. The buses acquired by the parent company were accordingly transferred to the new subsidiary (back dated to 1st January 1923) and the fleetname ‘West Riding’ was adopted for both buses and trams. Later that year, powers to abandon the unconstructed sections of the tramway were obtained, although the remaining tramways continued to be operated as normal.
By 1925, however, it had become obvious that the isolated Castleford tramway was facing a serious threat from the motorbus and becoming unremunerative. On the 1st November 1925, it was closed down (the last car being No. 13) and the following day services were taken over by motorbuses.
The Tramway Company continued to build up its subsidiary motorbus fleet and plans to replace the remaining trams were mooted. On the 1st June 1932 the final tramcar operated on the Sandal to Leeds route, being replaced by motorbuses the following day, and on the 25th July 1932 the trams on the Ossett to Agbrigg route ceased to run.
Now that the trams were no longer running, there was no need for two separate companies. The subsidiary motorbus company was put into voluntary liquidation on the 20th March 1935 and officially wound up on the 30th June 1935 and on the following day, 1st July 1935, the Yorkshire (West Riding) Electric Tramways Company Limited changed its name to the West Riding Automobile Company Limited – bringing the tramway era to a final close.
Nos. 1-55 ex-Wakefield & District Light Railway (new 1904 (1-30) or
Nos. 62-67 received top-covers in 1912-1913.
Nos. 68-75 ex-Leeds Corporation (Nos. 133, 138, 147, 148, 163, 170, 177, 180
(order unknown), new 1899); on hire from 1917 until purchased; Nos. 68-74
re-trucked with Brill 21E trucks at a later date.
This batch of eight cars took the numbers of the eight cars destroyed by fire
at Castleford in 1917. Three of these cars have not been identified but by
elimination must be three of 23-25, 29, 33, 36 or 38.
Nos. 101-122 to West Riding Automobile Company Limited 1/23.
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