London Brixton Hill

NGR TQ300730 (Telford Rd, Streatham Hill)

NGR TQ300720 (Tate Library, Streatham Village)

A cable tramway was constructed as part of METROPOLITAN STREET TRAMWAYS network in south London, it ran from Kennington Junction up Brixton hill to Streatham hill. Opened in 1891 the 2.5 mile line double track line hauled old horse drawn tramcars that had grippers and were not permanantly attached, they pulled dummy cars (30 in total on the line). It had a continuously wound cable that traveled in a central conduit between the tracks of each line. Another 0.75 mile line was constructed from Streatham hill to Streatham village in 1896. The line closed in 1904.

Brixton Hill was really too steep for two horses to pull a tramful of passengers so an Act of Parliament was obtained in 1890 to enable the London Tramways Company (the new name the Metropolitan Street Tramways Company had acquired after an amalgamation) to construct a cable line. This would replace the horse tram service from Kennington to Brixton Water Lane and would continue to the top of Brixton Hill at Telford Avenue. Cable traction was already in operation (and still is) in San Fransisco; it was first used in this country on Highgate Hill, North London, in 1884. The cable consisted of strands of steel wire wound round a rope, about an inch in diameter. It was nearly six miles long. That is, twice the length of the route. It ran underground between the tram lines through a concrete conduit which had a small open slot along the rope so that the cable could be gripped by the mechanism on the small man-operated tractor or "gripper" car; it was this car that pulled the passenger tramcar. A tramcar going from Brixton Hill to Westminster Bridge would have its gripper car detached at Kennington and replaced by a pair of horses; passengers remained in their seats. The cable moved all the time at a maximum speed of 8 m.p.h. A special depot was built on Streatham Hill opposite Telford Avenue to house not only cars and horses but the steam powered winding gear for the cable. The cable service started to operate in December 1892. In 1894 yet another Act was obtained - to extend the cable southwards to the Tate Library in Streatham High Road; this section was in use by the end of 1895. Cable cars ran until 1904.

Another picture can be found here

Old Postcards

Cable Tram Cable Trams at Streatham Tram The Line Trams