Durban was the first City in South Africa to have a Municipal Tramway.
You probably never knew this, but the first municipal tramline in South Africa was laid in our famous Florida Road. According to Wikipedia the tramline was used on 12 September 1892, with horses providing the motive power.
The Durban tramway network formed part of the public transport system in Durban, South Africa, for nearly 70 years until the end of the 1940s.
Opened in 25 March 1880, the Durban tramway network was operated initially by horsecars. Many blogs and articles on www.fad.co.za narrate the beautiful stories and memories of people who remember the tramway.
From 1 May 1902, the network was converted to electrical power. Beginning on 24 February 1935, it was gradually replaced by the Durban trolleybus system, which was opened on that day. The tramway network was finally closed on 2 August 1949.
Durban’s first form of public transport was a coach service between Durban and Pietermaritzburg which was started by John Dare and ran for the first time on 15th March 1860. The coach was aptly named Perseverance because the journey used to take the whole day – one way.
According to the “Facts About Durban” website, the Dale brothers started a horse coach service in the town in the CBD 1870 and, on 25th March 1880, horse-drawn double-decker trams were introduced by Ramsay Collins. A competing service was started on 19th October 1885 by AK Murray and the two later joined forces under the banner of the Durban Borough Tramways Company. The first municipal tramline in South Africa was laid in Florida Road and first used on 12th September 1892 with horses still providing the motive power. On 1 August 1899, the Durban Municipality bought out the private Durban Borough Tramway Company for £114000.
Trams powered by electricity were introduced on 1 May 1902 and, although the first ones were imported, the municipal workshops in Durban began building their own tram bodies in 1910 and fitting them with imported motors. The trams built in Durban had the distinction of being the largest in the world. They were equipped with a driving position at both ends and passenger seat backs which could be flipped to allow the passengers to face forwards no matter which way the tram was travelling.
The last electric tram (no. 7015), affectionately known as Old Faithful, ran in Durban on 2nd August 1949. Dear Old Durban author Valerie Miller’s mother, Mrs. Aileen Gordon-Huntley, had the unique distinction of riding on both the first and the last trams.
We wish that one of these incredible works of machinery could be restored to even rebuilt so that locals and tourists can experience the thrill of riding a tramway.