Tram Conduit Changeover

View of Woolwich High Street. Tram services 36, 38 and 40 use the changeover point  in Market Hill just up ahead. The Abbey Wood bound tram in the foreground has just had its trolley pole raised by the conductor to the overhead. It will move off and "shoot its plough" into the change pit ahead. On London bound trams the plough has to be put back in manually by the pit attendant and the pole is then lowered and hooked down. Note the overhead in the picture  is for trollybuses which terminated at Parsons Hill a few yards further along the road. Also note the conduit groove in the centre of the tram lines for picking up the current. The power station in the picture still has only two chimneys instead of three. It was demolished circa. 1980. The turning on the left is Woolwich Ferry Approach, now moved back along the road opposite what was then Parsons Hill, now, John Wilson Street. The whole of the left hand side of this part of the road is The WaterFront Leisure Complex.

A similar view at Lee High Road, Lee Green, looking very leafy in this view looking towards Eltham. In the other direction you would see the Lee Green cross roads and the fire station. Eltham bound trams would have stopped at the cross roads to have the conductor put up the trolley to pick up power from the overhead, then move off to expel the plough into the pit. There was no power to the plough at this point, so there was no danger of electrocution. As at Woolwich London bound trams would slow to walking pace as the plough was forked in by one of the attendants. It would then stop for the conductor to lower the trolley pole, before making its way to London under power from the conduit.
Building conduit tramways was an expensive option. For this reason the more suburban areas were on the overhead wire arrangement. This is why there were change over points.

A huge exhibition for the Festival of Britain was to be held on London's South Bank in 1951. This necessitated revamping the transport facilities in the area around the Waterloo area. This included the tramway system, which when the work was carried out in 1950 only had another two years to run.

To find out more about what was involved in laying this new conduit tramway follow this link. to Dewi's Williams facinating pages.

There was a disscussion on the Eurotrams group recently about the location of the conduit change over points in London with several people making contributions. Does anybody know if there is any evidence still in existance at any of these sites?

The list currently reads:

1 Wandsworth Putney Bridge Road, near West Hill & High Street 
2 Summerstown, Plough Lane 
3 Tooting High Street near Longley Road 
4 Tooting Junction, London Road 
5 Streatham High Road, near Gleneagle Road 
6 Brixton, Effra Road
7 Brixton, Gresham Road 
8 Camberwell, Coldharbour Lane 
9 Woolwich, High Street 
10 Lee Green, Eltham Road 
11 Downham, Downham Way 
12 Archway Tavern, Archway Road 
13 Manor House, Green Lanes 
14 Manor House, Seven Sisters Road 
15 Stamford Hill, AmhurstPark 
16 Stamford Hill, High Street 
17 Lower Clapton, Lea Bridge Road 
18 Hackney, Well Street 
19 Mile End, Mile End Road 
20 Mile End, Grove Road (I think; map seems a bit vague) 
21 Limehouse, Burdett Road 
22 Canning Town, East India Dock Road

This page was designed and is maintained by Toby and John King, I would accept any comments or questions  See Index Page

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