Dublin & Blessington Steam Tram
About 1880 it was proposed that a light railway, on a gauge of 3ft and powered by steam, be built between Dublin and Blessington, with a terminus close to St. Patrick's Cathedral. This proposal fell through as Dublin Corporation would not allow the use of steam traction in the city area. In 1887 the Light Railways (Ireland) Bill was passed by the British Parliament. This Act allowed the proposal for a 15 1/2 mile tramway on a 3ft. gauge (later 5ft. 3in. gauge) from Terenure to Blessington to be operated by steam. As a result, a Company, known as the Dublin and Blessington Steam Tramway Company was set up to promote the Scheme. The Board of Directors were: William Owen (Chairman), Fletcher Moore, William Donville Handcock, Thomas S. Guinness, John A. Turner, William Elliott O'Donnell (Secretary), William F. Clarke, C.E. (Engineer). A prospectus was issued inviting applications for shares.
The capital consisted of £40,000, 5% Baronially Guaranteed Stock in £10 units, and £60,000 non guaranteed shares at £10 units, a total of £100,000. It was proposed that a connection would be made at Terenure with the existing line to Dublin city centre (3 1/4"). This was operated by the Dublin Tramway Company (DTC.) and worked by horse power. Under a clause in the Act the DBSTC gained running powers over the DTC in the pursuance of the operation of through traffic of all kinds as both lines were of the same 3ft. gauge. A contract was drawn up with Mr. Alex Ward, an English contractor, who had built the Dublin and Lucan Steam Tramway. The agreement was to construct the line within twelve months at a cost of £3,000 per mile, including preliminary expenses, one half to be paid in shares and one half in cash. It was to be laid on the level of the road with steel rails and iron sleepers.
The Tramway, when opened, would do all the work of an ordinary railway, conveying every description of merchandise and farm produce. It had been hoped to open the line for traffic in June 1888 but the work was not complete. Finally, on Wednesday, August 1st, 1988, the opening took place. The Wicklow Newsletter of 4th August, 1888 gave the following description: The first tram started from Terenure just after 8.30 a.m., the scheduled time, taking up mails, which along with the passengers were conveyed from the GPO (General Post Office) in a special car by arrangement with the Dublin United Tramways Company. The new company carriages are handsome and comfortable. Each compartment is divided into first and second class divisions and are nicely upholstered with plenty of room and ventilation. They are capable of containing sixty eight passengers and thirty-eight outside.
The seats on the roof are arranged transversley as in the Blackrock cars, thus affording the occupants the best opportunity of observing the interesting society en route. There is a sort of covering like an awning over the seats to shelter passengers from the rain. In 1889 a new company, the Blessington and Poulaphouca Steam Tramway was incorporated to extend the line to Poulaphouca. Finally, after some delay in raising the capital required, the extension to Poulaphouca opened on May 1st 1895. By the following year through traffic from Terenure to Poulaphouca commenced. In the meantime a "long car" pulled by two horses travelled between Blessington and Poulaphouca making a connection at Blessington with the Tram. The line was profitable right up to the end of World War One, serving an army camp of up to 12,000 soldiers based at Kilbride just south of Brittas.
The decline in use and subsequent loss in revenue was due to the introduction of car and van for trade. By 1931 it was obvious that the line would only lead to further financial loss and it was announced that the line would close at the end of 1932. In early December the track, rolling stock and other assets were advertised for sale. The last tram to Blessington left Terenure at 6.15 p.m. on Saturday, December 31st, 1932, followed by a final car to Tallaght only at 10.30 p.m. When the closure was announced the sale of assets was to be used to provide pensions for the staff. Work on dismantling the line began in 1933 by Hammond Lane Metal Co. who had purchased the track and most of the rolling stock.
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