Saturday, 27 August 2016

A Tram to Ettrick Bay

Ettrick Bay is on the west coast of the Isle of Bute. It became popular because it had a long expanse of sandy beach.
Stills from an old 8mm movie on YouTube show the crowds enjoying their holiday trips to Ettrick Bay.
But how to get there?

In 1882 a horse tramway of unusual 4 foot gauge was opened between Rothesay and Port Bannatyne (see map above)
And here, fuzzily, is a tram at Rothesay itself.
The two blocks upper right are still there today!
And a picture dated 1897, again showing 4 foot gauge horse trams; Guildford Square is on the left, the pier off to the right.

In 1901 the tramway was bought by British Electric Traction and closed on 2 March 1902 for modernisation. It was regauged to 3 ft 6 in and electrified. Some horse-drawn vehicles were re-gauged and operated a temporary service until the electrification was complete. Electric services started on 13 August 1902.

So says Wikipedia, but this horse tram definitely says it was going to Ettrick Bay (see name board upper right).
And the gauge looks very much 3' 6".

On 13 July 1905 a two mile extension was built from Port Bannatyne to Ettrick Bay.
It had been built by Dick, Kerr & Co.
Maybe a few horse trams continued to run after the extension?

On 1 January 1914, control of the company passed to the Scottish General Transport Company. On 1 June 1932, the company name changed to Western Scottish Motor Traction Company, and the tramway closed on 30 September 1936

Most famous of the line's fleet were the "toastrack" cars, one seen here in the Port Bannatyne depot ...
... and one packed solid with holidaymakers - NOT.
The depot still stands and is the base for West Coast Motors bus fleet on Bute.
Most of the route was along the roads, as here at Port Bannatyne itself.
Apart from the depot there is little or nothing to be seen of tramway memorabilia in the town areas ...
... but once out in the open country, you realise that the tram had its own reserved track which ran alongside the present B875 ...
... much of the track bed now a footpath and cycle way.

This picture of Ettrick Bay shows the covered refreshment rooms and concert hall with, just to the left of the building, a tram awaiting return passengers to Rothesay.
The Bay is sparsely used today, with just a modest tea room for the much smaller number of visitors ...
... but it still has an hourly bus service during the warmer months.
fbb does wonder how many folk who visit the bay today will realise that you could once get there by tram. But maybe "The Tramway Project" as shown on this poster at the start of the reserved track section ...
... might re-awaken interest in this long lost line. Maybe this book will help fbb in his researches?
Just ordered it!

But the fbbs went in the other direction; to Kilchattan Bay.

 Next Rothesay blog : Sunday 28th August 

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