The golden age of the tram transport system had arrived. In 1881 a 3ft 6in guage horse tramway was opened in Northampton. Running from the Town centre at All Saints church, it headed up Abington Street and along Kettering Road to the Kingsley Park Hotel (now called the White Elephant). It ran west down Gold Street and on to St James' End heading out of the town.
Northbound the route followed St Georges Terrace, Kingsthorpe Hollow and into Kingsthorpe. This part of the system was extended around 1883 and in 1884 the St James' route was extended along the Weedon Road heading out towards what is now Sixfields. A further extension was incorporated an 1893 along the Wellingborough Road out towards Weston Favell. A Trolleybus cross-town service linking with the tramway terminus was authorised in 1911 but not constructed.
Operated initially by the Northampton Street Tramways Co, it was taken over by the Corporation in 1901 for the sum of £38,700. This included a delivery of 21 tramcars, 3 buses and 100 horses and associated land and buildings.
The opening of the electric tram network in part on July 21st, 1904, brought thousands of people onto the streets to witness the new electric trams. It was a party atmosphere and Policemen in their white summer helmets, men in their strawboaters, ladies with their parasols were not disappointed. Just before 3pm, they glided around the corner of the Drapery into Mercers Row.
The website of the National Tramway Museum at Crich has a few photos from the era showing the types of cars that Northampton Corporation ran. Click here to view. By 1914 there were nearly six and a half miles of track.
Kingsthorpe Grove, Cock Hotel junction
By 1904 the four main routes
had been electrified and the St James depot (now the bus
depot) was also built at that time. A fifth route out to
Far Cotton was opened in 1914 and the trams ran through
to 1934. In 1912, Southbridge was widened by 20 feet to
allow the electric trams to travel to Far Cotton. The
rest of the town had an electric service in 1904, but the
difficulties of getting the new cars up the steep incline
of Bridge Street and across the railway level crossing at
Cotton End meant that Far Cotton had to wait until 1914
to get electric tram cars.
East Park Parade near White Elephant
The demise of the tram system was attributed to the steady introduction of buses by the Corporation from around 1929 and by 1934 the tram system came to its end. The tram lines and the traffic have long disappeared, and now Abington Street is pedestrianised. The only remaining visible signs of the old tram system are two rare examples of Tram stops in Northampton that have been preserved. One is on one corner of the Racecourse near the White Elephant pub and the second on a central island area on Kingsthorpe Grove near to the Cock Hotel junction.