FEW tears were shed when the horse-drawn trams disappeared from Oxford’s streets.
A postcard was produced, bearing the words: “At Rest, Botley, Jan 1914 –The Funeral of the Worn-out Tram”.
Below the picture was the following rhyme: No more jolting, no more rumbling No more citizens of Oxford grumbling I went so slow, they must go fast Morris has come, goodbye to the past.
Oxford was one of the last cities to lose its horse-drawn trams. Arguments had raged for years over what should replace them.
The City of Oxford and District Tramways Company was formed in 1879 and the first trams started running in 1881.
By 1896, they were carrying more than three million passengers a year.
Proposals were put forward in 1902 to electrify and extend the system, but opposition from Oxford University, which feared overhead cables would damage the character of its historic buildings, and the reluctance of the Tramways Company to spend money, meant nothing happened.
Eleven years later, the horse-drawn vehicles were still on the streets – 10 years after other cities had abandoned this form of transport.
Oxford citizens wanted motor buses, which were becoming more reliable.
City councillors at first vetoed plans to bring in motor buses, but their hand was forced by William Morris, owner of Morris Motors’ car factory at Cowley.
He started a motor bus service between the two railway stations and Cowley in December 1913.
Because he had no licence, he could not collect fares – passengers had to buy coupons from shops and hand them in on the bus.
The buses attracted 17,000 passengers on the first four days, leaving the trams deserted.
On January 14, 1914, councillors agreed to issue 12 motor bus licences to Morris and 12 to the Tramway Company.
Two weeks later, Morris handed his licences to the Tramway Company, and the trams were consigned to history.
The picture comes from John Kinnane, of Landseer Walk, Abingdon, who wrote in after reading our series about the tram workers’ strike in 1913 (Memory Lane, January 4, 11 and 18).