Tramways at last







November 1904

Parliamentary Notices appearing in our advertising columns today show that the Tramways question at Hastings is now rapidly making headway and that at last there is real reason for expecting a commencement of the work in connection with the long promised tram service in this district.

We would refer our readers to these advertisements for information both as to the Bill which the Hastings Tramways Company intends to introduce into the next Session of Parliament and also as to the constitution, capital and intentions of the new Hastings and District Electric Tramways Company Limited, which is now offering a certain number of shares to the public.

The following letters, the first addressed to ourselves, and the second a copy of one sent to the Town Clerk of Hastings and Bexhill, will show that the Tramways Company intends to commence with the work in Hastings almost immediately.

In a letter to the newspaper.

Sir,- In reply to your enquiry you will be glad to hear that the immediate commencement and early completion of the Hastings Tramways are now beyond any doubt whatever.

I have associated myself with others in a new Company, the Prospectus of which is issued today to provide capital for carrying out the undertaking; the whole of the capital being under-written, its subscription is absolutely secured.

The works will be carried out under a contract, in which I have an interest, with Messrs. Dick, Kerr and Co., Ltd.


Yours faithfully

T.M. Murphy


Suffolk House,

Laurence Poultney Hill,

Cannon Street,

London. EC.

November 17th 1904


Insert taken directly from a London newspaper Nov, 1904

T.F. Meadows Esq.,

Town Clerk, Hastings.




Dear Sir,- We beg to inform you that a Company has been registered under the Limited Liability Acts to provide capital for the construction and equipment to the Tramways.

Arrangements have been made for the commencement of the works immediately, and it is expected that they will be substantially completed before the end of next summer, except the lines along “the Front,” which our clients are advised there will be considerable difficulty in working on the conduit system.

We are therefore instructed to apply to Parliament next Session for a Bill to authorise the “Front Line” being worked by overhead traction uniformly with the rest of the system.

At the same time we shall seek to modify the terms of the Act of 1903 so far as to permit of the lines along the Front and London road being constructed, notwithstanding that the lines (a) in Upper Church road and (b) from Bexhill to Kewhurst have not been constructed, or in other words, that the construction of these two lines may be postponed.

By the Bill we shall also propose to make some modification and improvement of the Tramway at Bexhill, and as a measure or precaution we shall also ask for an extension of time for the completion of the works.

We enclosed an advance copy of the prospectus of the Limited Company which it is proposed to issue immediately, offering capital to the amount of £250,000 for subscription, the whole of which is under-written, so that cash for the construction of the Tramways is absolutely secured.

Messrs. Meadows and Co., the local solicitors, or the undersigned, will be pleased to give any further information which the Corporation may desire.


We are, Dear Sir,

Yours truly,

(Signed) Ashurst, Morris, Crisp & Co.

London, EC.

12th November 1904



The majority of Hastings people will be delighted at a promise of an early commencement of the tramway work in Hastings, but perhaps no man will be more pleased that affairs in connection with the question have arrived at this satisfactory point than Mr. A. C. Salter, Mr. Murphy’s Engineer.

This gentleman has carried through the negotiations with the local Authorities in a courteous and thoroughly capable manner, and everybody who has been brought into contact with him has been struck with his ability as a diplomatist and tactician as well as an engineer.


Interview with Mr. Murphy.

Mr. Murphy kindly granted an interview with one of our representatives in London on Thursday, and after discussing various matters, dealt with the Tramway question so far as it affects Hastings.

Mr. Murphy commenced by stating that all financial matters in connection with this question had now been adjusted, and there was no difficulty remaining  in regard to these matters.

He added that the shares and stock which are not actually taken up by the public in answer to the prospectus published this week are under-written; so that the financial aspect of the question is settle beyond all doubt.

Our representative pointed out to Mr. Murphy that according to the prospectus the capital of the Company was £500,000, but they were only calling up £125,000 of preference shares and the issue they were making of debentures was only half that provided for by the Company.

Mr. Murphy admitted that this was so, and said: “Who knows what extension may be wanted in the future? It is just as well to have your share capital large enough to begin within view of extending. Who knows but that it may be necessary, for instance, to go to Eastbourne in time to come? This is all in the bounds of possibility.”

“When will you commence with the Hastings work, Mr. Murphy?”

Mr. Murphy replied that this was a question affected by the delivery of the rails and nothing else.  The rails had to be obtained from Germany and Belgium as well as England, and Mr Murphy pointed out that this was another case in which there was a necessity for England to wake up.  English iron masters had not taken any interest in tram rails and consequently they had allowed the market to slip first into the hands of the American, from whom some time ago he (Mr. Murphy) got his rails.

The market had however, veered round.  The Germans had as usual shown themselves enterprising and had laid down special plant for the supply of tram rails, which are quite different from the rails required for ordinary railway services.  “And,” added Mr. Murphy, “it is only within a very recent period that English iron masters have woke up at all to the possibilities of the tram rail trade.”  Therefore, although this trade is now being revived in England and they were able to some extent to obtain rails at home, yet by far the greatest supply came of necessity from Germany and Belgium.  “Yet,” said Mr. Murphy, “he did not see any reason at all why the work at Hastings should not be commenced before Christmas.

Our representative next asked if the contractors to whom the work had been allotted would bring their own workmen with them to Hastings.

Mr. Murphy replied that they would undoubtedly bring their own skilled workmen, and there would be opportunities for work for hundreds of local working men in both Hastings and Bexhill during the coming winter.

“Where will you commence?” “We shall break ground in several places at once and move steadily towards the centre, so that when we are nearing completion of the whole service we shall throw all our energies into the work in the centre of the town, to avoid interference with the traffic as much as possible.

Mr. Murphy in reply to another question said that the public functions or celebrations in connection with the work would be left until the service was completed.

“How long do you think it will take to carry out the whole of the work?”

“With the exception of those pieces with regard to which we are making new applications in our present Bill, we shall finish the whole work by the end of July next.

“What about the Front Line?”

“Oh! Six weeks later will see the whole of that through.”

“I notice you are making application for the substitution of the overhead system for the conduit system along the Front Line of Hastings.”

“Yes; we are doing this for two reasons.  First, there is the very great extra expense connected with the laying down of the conduit system, namely, about £50.000 for the 2¼ miles from the Memorial to West Marina.  This expense is not warranted by any consideration at all that I can see.

Again the conduit system can hardly be described as a great success.  It is constantly getting out of order, and you will have noticed that in South London they have been in very great difficulties with it.  At Hastings even greater difficulties must be expected.  You must take into consideration the possibilities that arise from a surface swept by sand and grit and in some cases percolated with sea-water.

You will see from this that there is a very grave danger of the conduit system proving a failure.  Apart from this there is my second reason which is that it is impossible to have any through service with the conduit system, insomuch as every tram leaving the Memorial for Bexhill would have to be equipped with a double apparatus, which would entail a very great additional weight through the town and up the hills.  Consequently the overhead system must be used for the out bounds, and all passengers would, if the conduit system were used on the Front Line, have to change cars at the Memorial.

But the greatest difficulty of the two is the possibility of the silting up of the conduit system has never been tried in such an exposed position.

Reminded of the somewhat sarcastic reference by Alderman Tree to the fact that the Tramways Company had not yet obtained land at Hastings for the erection of a power station.

Mr. Murphy smilingly replied that it would not take them long to buy up all the land that was required for this purpose.  It was not an insuperable difficulty, and not the work of months.

“Where are you going to erect your power station?”

“Are you still favourably disposed to the site originally mentioned, names Sheep Wash Bridge?”

Mr. Murphy said that he had been in favour of a site close to the Ore Railway Station, which he thought would have been very convenient in many ways, and his Engineer had had several interviews with the Engineer of the South Eastern Railway Company in connection with the matter.  Up to the present, however, he had not come to any arrangement with the Railway Company, and there seemed very little doubt that all the power station would be erected at Sheep Wash Bridge.

“How many cars will you have?”

“Well, we shall certainly start with 60 and the total number will be anything from 60 – 100.”

“Do you find that a supply of tramway cars creates a demand for the use of them?”

“Most certainly.  In Thanet, for instance in the first year of our work we carried 5½ million passengers, and the Railway Company reported a decrease of half a million – a clear proof that the supply of tramway cars creates a demand for them.

This year in Thanet there has been a large increase in the number of tramway passengers, and at Hastings I look for even better results than at Thanet, seeing the unrivalled scenery and the glorious country through which the trams will run in your district.

“Are you not a little late in the field with Tramways? We are told by gentlemen who pose as experts that the reign of the tram car is over, and that the motor omnibus is taking its place.  What is your opinion as a practical man, and one sufficiently level-headed to keep abreast of current events?”

Mr. Murphy replied that he always kept a close eye on the possibilities confronting him, but he did not think that at present they need fear the motor omnibuses.

He explained that the reason why horse trams came in and drove horse omnibuses off the road was that they ran over the lines much easier, and with much larger freights of passengers, than the horse omnibuses.  Coming to the competition between steam, petrol, or electrically-driven motor omnibuses and electric tramcars, the same argument applied.  He could propel a car which loaded with passengers, weighed about ten tons, over a mile of line for an expenditure of one unit of electricity, which cost him in Dublin one half penny.   Even when the extra cost through the carriage of coal to Hastings was taken into account, he did not apprehend that than one penny, and he had yet to learn that any method of propulsion had been discovered by which any vehicle other than a tramcar could be driven over the road at anything like so low a cost.

For this reason tramcars would continue to hold the field.  Never yet had omnibuses, either horse or motor, been able to live alongside the tramcars.

In closing the interview our representative remarked: “You will still be able to boast of never obtaining a Tramways Order which you have not carried into effect, Mr. Murphy?”

Mr. Murphy – That is so.



Typed directly from a London newspaper report in their own words.

November 1904.