Former tramway route at Penrhyn Hill

Former tramway route at Penrhyn Hill

Old photo of tramway at Penrhyn HillThe downhill half of the main road here was originally built for the Llandudno & Colwyn Bay Electric Railway. The old photo (courtesy of the L&CB Tramway Society and Conwy Archive Service) shows a tram descending alongside a motor car on the adjacent road.

When the tramway opened in 1907 there was only one track here for both directions. The track sat on a ledge hewn from the hillside high above the original road – now a cycling and walking route.

Penrhyn Hill was the steepest part of the tramway, with a maximum gradient of one in 11. During pre-opening test runs in 1907, journalists and councillors were impressed by how quickly a tram descending at full speed managed to stop, using the automatic magnetic brake. The magnets acted on the steel track, supplementing the hand-operated wheel brakes in emergency. The magnetic force was generated by the movement of the tram, so the brake would function even if the external power supply was lost.

Shortly after the outbreak of the First World War, work began on improving the Colwyn Bay to Llandudno road. This included a new road up Penrhyn Hill (now the uphill carriageway), completed in 1916 despite wartime shortages and interruptions. In the 1920s the tramway was widened to double track. The tramway and road were separated by the stone retaining wall which you can see today.

There was a tram stop, with a wooden shelter, at the foot of Penrhyn Hill (where the roundabout is today). The tramway then continued along Glan-y-Môr Road.

After the Second World War, buses began to poach passengers from the tramway. Sometimes a tram and bus would race each other to the top of Penrhyn Hill, although officials denied that this ever happened!

With thanks to the Llandudno & Colwyn Bay Tramway Society and Conwy Archive Service

Postcode: LL30 3EF    View Location Map

Website of Conwy Archive Service