The Golden Age of Trams: A Streetcar Named Desire

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Timeshift, Series 11 Episode 8 of 12

Duration: 1 hour

Move along the car! Timeshift takes a nostalgic trip on the tram car and explores how it liberated overcrowded cities and launched the age of commuter. The film maps the tram's journey from early horse-drawn carriages on rails, through steam to electric power.

Overhead wires hung over Britain's towns and cities for nearly 50 years from the beginning of the 20th century until they were phased out everywhere except Blackpool. Manchester, the last city to lose its trams was, however, among the first to reintroduce them as the solution to modern day traffic problems.

The film includes a specially-recorded reading of his short story Leeds Trams by Alan Bennett and contributions from Ken Dodd and Roy Hattersley.

  • The Mumbles Train

    The Mumbles Train

    Built in 1807 the Mumbles to Swansea service was the world's first passenger tram.

  • The Prince's Tram

    The Prince's Tram

    The opening of a new tramway was a major civic occasion. This postcard marks the opening of the south London electric tramway by the Prince of Wales in 1903.

    John Prentice Archive
  • Tram from Knotty Ash

    Tram from Knotty Ash

    The tramway in Liverpool's Knotty Ash was a good example of how trams connected up cities with their outlying villages and suburbs. They allowed residents like Ken Dodd (of Knotty Ash) a new freedom to travel and work away from home. Photograph taken by Richard Wiseman.

  • A Diddy Tram

    A Diddy Tram

    Tram enthusiast Ken Dodd in front of a tram at the Wirral Transport Museum in Birkenhead - the first street tramway in Europe.

  • Tram Slideshow

    Tram Slideshow

    BBC News Slideshow showing the development of the tram.

    BBC News: In Pictures


Sarah Lancashire
Julia Foot
Julia Foot
Series Producer
Ben Southwell
Executive Producer
Michael Poole

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