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West Ham Tram Depot

Headquarters building of West Ham Corporation tramways
Red Wheel Site:
Transport Mode(s):

90, Greengate Street, Plaistow, London E13 0AS

E13 0AS
Visitor Centre:

About West Ham Tram Depot

The North Metropolitan Tramways Company opened a horse tramway from Aldgate to Leytonstone Road, via Broadway, Stratford, in 1870‘“1. In 1886, the route was extended to Leytonstone, with another branch along Romford Road to Forest Gate and Manor Park. Then, in 1886, a line from Canning Town along Barking Road to the Greengate, Plaistow was opened, with an extension to a depot in Tunmarsh Lane.

The company ws innovative. In 1877 it experimented briefly with a Merryweather steam tram locomotive in Leytonstone Road. Further experiments on the same line were made with a Beaumont compressed air locomotive in 1881. Battery-powered electric trams were also used on regular services between Stratford and Manor Park in 1886‘“8, and on the Canning Townline in 1889‘“92, but they were not a success.

Between 1903 and 1905, the West Ham corporation took over all of the North Metropolitan lines within the borough, extended and electrified them. By the time that they became the responsibility of the London Passenger Transport Board in 1933, West Ham Corporation operated 134 tram cars on 26.2 km (16.27 miles) of tracks. The corporation's electricity generation and supply undertaking was nationalised in 1948, when it was transferred to the London Electricity Board.

West Ham Depot was built in 1906 as the headquarters of the West Ham tramway service with a signiicant overhead electric car shed. Later, it became a trolleybus depot, operating from June 1937 until April 1960. Motorbus operation had commenced from the depot in November 1959 and continued until October 1992, after which the garage closed.

The main depot structure has since been demolished and housing now occupies the site, which incorporates the road "Routemaster Close" named after the Routemaster bus which operated at this garage from November 1959 until 1985.

The headquarters building remains - a distinctive building, redolent of its period in a heavy arts and crafts style using stone facings, and incorporates a Tramway War Memorial. It is currently in use as a refugee centre. The structure is Listed Grade II.

A map of the tram routes in West Ham in 1909 can be downloaded in the Links Section below (courtesy of M Ashworth).

By Road: On A112, Greengate Street

By rail: Plaistow station (District Line) is nearby

Barker, T.C., and Robbins, M., A History of London Transport, Allen & Unwin, ISBN-10 0043850634 (1974)

Dunbar, C. S., London's Tramway Subway, LRTL, ISBN-10 0900433523 (1975)

Harley, Robert, London's Tramway Twilight, Capital Transport, ISBN-10 1854142348 (2000)

Oakley, E. R. and Holland, C. E., London Transport Tramways 1933-1952, London Tramways History Group, ISBN-10 0951300121 (1999)

Reed, John, London's Tramways, Capital Transport, ISBN-10 1854141791 (1997)

Taylor, Sheila, and Green, Oliver, Moving Metropolis: A History of London's Transport Since 1800, Lawrence King,ISBN-10 1856693260 (2003)

National Transport Trust, Old Bank House, 26 Station Approach, Hinchley Wood, Esher, Surrey KT10 0SR