Napier's Royal Blue Trams

Local History

Napier’s tramway system was tragically cut short by the Napier earthquake. Graham Stewart now tells the full story of this interesting tramway This is the story about a provincial tramway system which battled to serve its citizens with the latest form of urban transport in the early years of the 20th century, the electric tramcar. To extend the tramway to the expanding residential suburbs to the west and south became an impossibility because of the numerous railway lines to cross. One suggestion was that tram conductors should go ahead of each tram with a flag at railway crossings! The gauge of the tracks chosen, 3-foot 6-inches, the same gauge as the Government railways, was also to become another obstacle when more tramcars were required. A former London tram would have become part of the fleet if nature had not shattered the city. After 18 years of service to its Napier residents, it all ended when a 7.8 earthquake struck at 10.47am on Tuesday 3 February 1931. “The tram was shaken like a fox terrier playing a rat” said motorman Jim Minto, who was driving a tram back from Port Ahuriri at the time. The tram was uplifted and shaken violently. A municipal tramway with so many problems and struggling financially to balance the books, the earthquake of 1931 gave the city fathers a convenient way out.


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  • : 9780908573974
  • : New Zealand Railway & Locomotive Society
  • : New Zealand Railway & Locomotive Society
  • : books