About

The Leeds Tramway Historical Society (as it was initially known) was formed in 1956 with the aim of preserving something of the Leeds Tramway system before it was closed down. The group of tramway enthusiasts who formed it tried without success to preserve a Middleton Bogie tramcar from the scrap yard.

logo-tramwayAs a result, three Leeds tramcars were acquired in the 1959-61 period and all are now to be found at the National Tramway Museum, Crich, Derbyshire, with which our Society has always closely worked.

 

The three Cars are:-

No. 345, a four wheel “Convert” tram, originally built as an open balcony car at Kirkstall Road Works in 1921. It was rebuilt with fully enclosed ends and platform doors in 1937, becoming known as a “Convert” car. After withdrawal in 1950, it was used as a joiners shop in Swinegate Depot, where it survived until 1959.

No 399 is another four wheeled double deck tram; it was built in 1925 at Kirkstall Road Works as a totally enclosed car with and early form of air track brake system, being known as a “Beeston Air Brake” car. These cars were used mainly on the hilly routes to Beeston, Morley, Rothwell and Pudsey. No 399 was withdrawn in 1951 and used as a shunter at the Kirkstall Road Works and later in the Swinegate Depot, surviving until 1959 when the City of Leeds donated it to the Society.

tower wagonNo. 2, a unique works tram, having a central tower for use in the maintenance of the overhead wires. This car was built from existing parts in 1932, its truck being a rare example of a working American Cantilever truck in Britain. Initially preserved by the Middleton Railway Preservation Society, the car was purchased and restored to working order before being taken to Crich.

Members have worked on the cars over the years with the result that all are now fully restored and used at the Tramway Museum, Crich, Derbyshire. They entered service at the Museum as follows:- No. 2 , 1969 – No. 399, 1990 – and No. 345, 2006.

This was only achieved by a vast amount of work and dedication by several organisations, backed up by both volunteers and permanent staff at the Museum, restoring them to their original condition.

Eventually, interests broadened and our name was changed in 1967 to The Leeds Transport Historical Society; in 1972 it became a registered charity.

Since then it has published the five-volume work "Leeds Transport" by Jim Soper. These cover the history of Public Transport in Leeds up to 1972. Also "Leeds Transport on Postcards" was published in 2012 and "Leeds Transport in Colour 1880-1952" to be published in July 2017.

Also the Society has restored Leeds 107, the last remaining Leeds horse tram, to running order.  The car had survived in use as a shed. This project was entirely funded by the Society and took eight years with the tram being publicly launched in August 2013 at the Middleton Railway, Leeds.  The full story of the restoration can be found here.