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OPENED 1902-03

This is Great Britain's only remaining cable operated street tramway and one of only three surviving in the world. Operation of the tramway differs from the famous and unique San Francisco system in that, like the Lisbon lines, it is a street funicular, where the cars are permanently fixed to the cable and are stopped and started by stopping and starting the cable.

Car No. 5 was photographed about to leave the Victoria Tram Station in July 2002.

The line was incorporated by the Great Orme Tramways Act of 1898 with authorised share capital of £25,000. Construction began in 1901. The line starts at the Victoria Station in Church Walks, Llandudno. The line is in two sections and passengers change cars at the Halfway Station. The lower section climbs the very steep Old Road and then via Black Gate and Ty Gwyn Road to the Halfway Station and has a maximum grade of 1 in 4. The line climbs 400 feet in about half-a-mile. It was opened for passengers on July 31st 1902. The upper section, opened in 1903, is less steep and climbs 150 feet in about the same distance.  Click Great Orme Summit for pictures of the summit complex and visitor centre.

The journey takes it along the Old Road past the Kings Head Inn.
Cars can be identified by their names, in this case ‘St. Silio’,
centrally placed above the unglazed window openings.

Financial difficulties in the 1930’s resulted in the tramway being sold in 1935 to a new company Great Orme Railway Limited. The tramway remained in private hands until 1949 when Llandudno Urban District Council bought it under its powers to compulsorily purchase the undertaking at seven yearly intervals. In 1974 Aberconwy Borough Council took over the line until 1996 when ownership passed to Conwy County Council.

Prior to the introduction of radio control in the 1990’s, the trolley poles were used to maintain a telegraph link with the control unit at the halfway winding house, which was powered by steam until conversion to electrical operation in the 1950’s. The winding house contains two sets of cable winding gear. The upper section needs a seven-eighths inch diameter cable and is run by a 75hp English Electric motor. The lower section uses a 1¼ inch cable and a 125 hp electric motor.

Car No. 4 climbing the narrow and very steep Old Road.

As part of a major restoration and modernisation programme Doppelmayr Tramways of Switzerland in conjunction with Briton Engineering installed in 2001 a remote control and remote supervision system incorporating a trackside inductive loop. Current reconstruction work is costing more than £4,000,000. This includes the recent construction of a new winding house and new halfway station building (see the next page), the installation in 2001 of the modern control gear, and complete lower section track renewal planned and undertaken during the winters of 2002-3, 2003-4 & 2004/5.

Car No. 5 ascending the bottom half of the first section, the very narrow Old Road (closed to through traffic but used by road vehicles for access to properties) and approaching the five-way junction at Black Gate on Ty Gwyn Road. The public bus service to Tyn y Coed crosses the line at this point. The cut line in the concrete down the outer sides of the tramway rails is the buried induction control cable installed in 2001. Since this picture was taken the entire lower section of the tramway has been completely relaid with new rail embedded in concrete.

Last updated June 2009 - Photographs © 2002 by Noel Walley

NEXT - for more photographs of the trams and the route including halfway and summit stations.

HISTORY  -  for an outline of the history of the tramway and its equipment throughout the years.

TRAMWAY LINKS - for details of other tramway websites.


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Llandudno Great Orme Tramway Enquiries

All requests for information regarding the tramway operation and
operating dates, together with its timetable and fares
 should be made direct to the tramway at
Victoria Station, Church Walks, Llandudno LL30 2NB
Tel: 01492 879306
Email: tramwayenquiries@conwy.gov.uk
Visit the Tramway Official Website