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Between the World Wars 1919 – 1939

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Transport (continued)

On 1st July 1933 the London Passenger Transport Board took over the tram operations of Leyton, Walthamstow, West Ham Councils, the LCC and the Metropolitan Electric Tramways Company, amongst others.  The London Passenger Transport Board also took over the operations and headquarters of the Underground Group, whose personnel dominated the new authority.

There was a five-minute interval tram service between Leyton and central London (Southampton Row, Liverpool Street, and Aldgate) in about 1937 6.  One interviewee remembered that when she lived in Hibbert Road just one tram journey took her to places of work in the City and Holborn 8.

Trams took a lot of business away from the suburban steam railway lines including that from St Pancras to South Tottenham, but the Leyton station on the extension to East Ham and Barking saw an increase in tickets sold from 129,861 in 1896 to 228,684 in 1922 7.

London Transport favoured trolleybuses as a replacement for trams.  The Leyton depot was converted into a trolleybus-only depot.  The last tram in the Leyton area ran in November 1939.  One man recalled : “then the trolleybuses which were a big improvement ... the trolleybuses were luxury compared to the trams and the buses” 8 (the buses before being taken into a public ownership).  The newer trams were transferred to south London.  

Perhaps the tramways’ association with poorer people was a factor in their eradication from London though they survived in Continental cities.  Trolleybuses removed the dangerous tram rails from the roads, but the new overhead wires and poles were more visually intrusive.  

6  Leyton Past and Present, Fifth Edition

7  ‘St Pancras to Barking’ by J E Connor, pages VI to VII of the 2005 edition

8  WFOHW interviews 386-388

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