The Tramway's Timeline
The Great Orme Tramway has a long and rich history and has always been an important part of Llandudno. Its 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.
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.
In April, the construction of the Tramway began. R White and Son of Widnes were 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. They were seen off by the Town Band, playing God Save The King. At this time, only the lower section was completed.
On July 8th, The Tramway’s upper section opened to the public and people from around the country flocked to the Great Orme. The Tramway even carried coffins to the Halfway Station for burial at St Tudno’s churchyard. There was no concession for grief – the mourners were charged full fare, plus 2s 6d (12.5p) for transporting the coffin!
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 attendant 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. The new owners changed the name to the Great Orme Railway Company Ltd.
The Tramway reopened to the public with strict new safety measures. It was as popular as ever and ran all through the Second World War.
On January 1st,the Llandudno Urban District Council took over the line.
In the Halfway Station, the old steam-powered engines were replaced by more efficient electric engines.
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.
After major refurbishment, the new Halfway Station opened. It houses the Tramway’s winding gear, which you can see through a glass viewing area as you walk through to change 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 its 110th birthday in style and Llandudno’s former Town Crier David Price shouted about it! David passed away in 2013 but is fondly remembered as an important part of Llandudno’s story.
Over 120 years on, the Tramway is as popular as ever, carrying approximately 190,000 visitors of all ages and nationalities on the mile journey up the Great Orme every year. Visitors can still experience the same unique journey as our Victorian predecessors all those years ago.