The Stirling and Bridge of Allan Horse Tramway

The Stirling and Bridge of Allan Horse Tramway
Tram from Causewayhead Road
Tram Leaving Bridge of Allan
Tram Passing Old Tea Room

The fourth tramway to be constructed in Scotland as that between the village of Bridge of Allan and the town of Stirling, in the Forth Valley.

An Act of 1873 authorised 3 miles of tramway from the west side of the Allan Water, over the bridge, through Bridge of Allan to Stirling, and construction started in May 1874. Soon all was ready, and the first public run was made on 27th July, with the usual attendant cake and wine party and speech-making.

The line ran from Well Road in Bridge of Allan, along Henderson Street, past Causewayhead, then by Wallace and Barnton Streets in Stirling, to terminate in Murray Place at Dumbarton Road. It was single, with, latterly, six passing loops. Depot and stable accommodation were built at Causewayhead on the east side of the track. The building still stands today, with one or two pieces of rail in situ.

To run the service two double-deck horse cars were required, quite adequate for the original time-table. Cars ran on the hour from both termini between 9.00 a.m. and 8.00 p.m., with additional runs intermittently on the half-hour. Fares were, from end to end 4d. inside and 3d. outside, with intermediate 1d. and 2d. stages. No fare changes were made for over thirty years.

During July and August 1878 a Grantham-type steam car was used, but after an interdict was obtained to prohibit its use, it lay disused in the car shed for two years. Its subsequent history is not known. Before coming to Stirling it had been demonstrated in Glasgow, Greenock and Edinburgh.

Improvements to the service were gradually made, and by 1890 a half-hour service was run. Seven cars and 24 horses were then owned ; the livery was sepia-brown with cream panels. After a further Act of Parliament had been promoted, the one mile extension to St. Ninians was constructed. Col. Yorke inspected it on 28th January 1898, passenger service commencing the following day. 1d. was charged for the Stirling-St. Ninians section. Several cars were purchased, including some from the Edinburgh and District Tramway Co., which was converting its horse routes to cable operation. Some of the older cars then had the body removed and transverse back-to-back seats fitted. These open cars were known as Summer cars and ran the service from May to September.

A new depot was constructed, on the opposite side of the line from the first, and some cottages for employees. About this time the car headway was increased to 20 minutes between 11.00 a.m. and 5.00 p.m. although this only required four cars on the road at any one time. On Saturday evenings two cars ran a shuttle service between St. Ninians and Stirling until 10.25 p.m. No Sunday service was run. The journey from Bridge of Allan to Stirling took 25 minutes, and from Stirling to St. Ninians took a further 15 minutes.

Mechanisation was still sought, and in 1913 one of the horse cars was fitted with a petrol engine. Conversion was undertaken by the Lanarkshire Motor Co. of Glasgow, and the car (No. 22) had a 4-cylinder 25 H.P. engine installed. It was inspected in October 1913, and first used in passenger service on 11th December.

The line ran uneventfully during the War, but afterwards suffered increasingly from bus competition. Two buses were purchased by the Company, and on 5th February 1920 the horse car service was abandoned. For a few weeks the petrol car operated a service between Stirling and St. Ninians, but by May 1920 this was abandoned and all assets including the buses and depots were sold to the Scottish General Omnibus Co. Within six months the rails were lifted and all trace of this archaic, but well-loved tramway had disappeared.