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Buses & Trams

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Mirfield Fir Cottage

Fir cottage tram terminus around 1905
This was the nearest point to Mirfield the tram system extended.

Yorkshire and particularly its West Riding always had a reputation for having an excellent public transport system. Trains, trams & buses served all corners of the county. In fact a journey on public transport 50 years ago would have been significantly quicker and less hassle than on todays idealist joke of a system!

The first real advance in public transport was the 1870 Tramways Act allowing the formation of companies to construct and operate local tram systems.  Very quickly companies were formed across the county and extensive systems of tram lines laid. Initially the tram cars would be pulled by two horses. In 1879 the Dewsbury, Batley & Birstall Tramway Co. was one of the first to move from horse power to steam. Initially using small steam tram engines to pull the existing horse cars, but the increased power of steam soon made it possible to pull far larger cars and by 1900 fully enclosed double decker cars were widely in use.
In the early 1900's steam began to give way to electrification and the counties roads became lined with posts to support the overhead cables and equipment that supplied power to the trams. (The same system still remains in use at Blackpool.)
Strangely, although nearly every major town in the county was served by the tram system, Mirfield never was. The line from Dewsbury ended at Fir Cottage near to the Swan public house and the Huddersfield Line ended at Bradley near to the White Cross public house. The route to join these two points was planned and authorised but was never built. By the 1940's the days of the tram were coming to an end as the more outlying routes began to be served by more conventional  automotive transport.

The Daimler 40hp bus shown on the left at Fir Cottage around 1913 operated a service from the tram terminus there to the start of the Huddersfield tram system at Bradley.

Surprisingly one of the main contributors to the end of the trams was the First World War 1914-1918. Being the first truly "modern" war large numbers of motor vehicles were produced and shipped to Europe, at the end of hostilities and their return to the U.K. these vehicles along with the young men trained to operate them found their way into the civilian market. Rapidly the haulage companies moved from the horse to the motor vehicle. Other vehicles were converted into the first buses.

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