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  • Briton Ferry gas-powered tram, early 20th century

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Description

The tramway was introduced to Neath in 1873 with the formation of the Neath & District Tramways Company and the laying of a line from Villiers Street in Briton Ferry along the main road through Neath to the Terminus Hotel at Skewen. A horse-drawn service came into operation in 1875. The company was purchased by the Neath Corporation on 7 August 1896 for the sum of £8,475 at which time it was decided to replace horses with vehicles powered by town gas. These were purchased second-hand from a variety of sources including Lytham St Anne's, Blackpool.

The trams were badly under-powered. Although they had a maximum speed of ten miles per hour, they could be reduced to a snail's pace on the slightest gradient. When fully loaded on reaching the hill by Neath General Hospital, the male passengers would be requested to get out and push - causing the service to become an object of fun.

However, it was better than walking and was still much appreciated by the public at that time. The tramway was leased to the Provincial Gas Traction Company in 1905, and they continued to operate it until 1920 when it was finally abandoned in favour of more modern motor buses. It was the last gas powered tram service in the world.

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