The Tramway's Timeline
The Great Orme Tramway has a long and rich history and has always been an important part of Llandudno, and it’s story begins with the passing of The Great Orme Tramways Act in 1898, through war times, changes of ownership, periods of refurbishment and updates, all the way to the present day and beyond.
Use the timeline below to navigate through the tramway’s history!
The Great Orme Tramways Act was passed which laid out the length of the Tramway, the gauge and the fares to be paid. The original purpose of the Tramway was to transport passengers, goods and parcels up and down the Great Orme. The Tramway even had to carry coffins to the Halfway Station for burial at St Tudno’s churchyard. There was no concession for grief; mourners were charged full fare, plus 2s 6d (12.5p) for transporting the coffin!
Construction of the Tramway begun in April 1901, with R White and Son of Widnes the contractors for the rails, machinery and tramcars, while Thomas & John Owen of Llandudno did the building work.
On July 31st 1902, the first paying passengers rode on the Tramway, seen off by the Town Band, playing God Save The King. At this time, only the lower section was open/operational.
The Tramway’s Upper Section opened on July 8th 1903.
Victoria Station on Church Walks was built on the site of the former Victoria Hotel.
Tragedy struck. After 30 years of carrying over 3.75 million passengers safely, a tramcar on the lower section broke loose from its cable, derailed and crashed into a stone wall. The driver and a 12 year old girl were killed and several passengers were injured. The accusation and threat of compensation claims drove the company into liquidation and it was sold to the Great Orme Railway Company Ltd.
The Tramway opened with strict new safety measures. It proved as popular as ever and ran all through the 2nd World War.
On January 1st 1949 the Tramway was taken over by Llandudno Urban District Council.
The Tramway was converted from steam power to electric drive.
Following local government reorganisation, control of the Tramway was passed to Aberconwy County Council.
The Tramway reverted to its original name, the Great Orme Tramway. It is now run by Conwy County Borough Council as a unique and treasured part of Llandudno’s heritage.
The Heritage Lottery Fund approved a £1 million refurbishment grant to preserve the Tramway Heritage.
The European Union awarded a further £1 million while CCBC committed £2 million for its preservation.
The new Halfway Station opened. The station is an elegant slate-roofed rotunda topped by a glass dome. It houses the Tramway’s winding gear, which you can see through a glassed-in viewing area as you walk through to resume your journey on one of a second pair of trams. It also has a fascinating exhibition on the history of the Tramway.
The Great Orme Tramway celebrated it’s Centenary birthday. 100 years of operation and still going strong!
The Tramway proudly celebrated it’s 110th birthday in style and Llandudno’s ex Town Crier, David Price shouted about it! Unfortunately, David passed away in 2013 but is fondly remembered as an important part of Llandudno’s heritage.
Over 110 years on, the Tramway is as popular as ever, carrying visitors of all ages and nationalities the mile journey up the Great Orme so visitors can still experience the same unique journey as our ancestors all those years ago. The Tramway carries approximately 160,000 passenger s a year and will continue to do so into the next century and beyond!