Horse-drawn tramcar, Llanbedrog

Horse-drawn tramcar, Llanbedrog

Photo of Llanbedrog tram terminusThe tramcar in the grounds of Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw is the last survivor from the Pwllheli to Llanbedrog tramway.

Cardiff businessman Solomon Andrews built the tramway in the 1890s, initially between Pwllheli’s West End and Craig y Defaid. The gauge (distance between the rails) was 91cm (3ft). The cost was £7,000 (about £1m in today’s money).

He bought Plas Glyn-y-Weddw in 1896 and developed it as an art gallery. He extended the track to a terminus a little north of the gallery (shown in the upper photo). In September 1896 the first tram ran over another track extension, from West End into the centre of Pwllheli. By summer 1897 there were 10 tramcars. Some were enclosed, some were open. Both types are shown in the lower picture, taken at Crugan.

For one shilling each, visitors in Pwllheli could buy a combined ticket for the “marine tram” ride and entry to the gallery and its gardens. There were discounts for school and picnic parties. Free rides were given to deserving groups on seaside outings, including workhouse paupers, orphans and soldiers wounded in the First World War.

Photo of Llanbedrog trams at CruganOne celebrity passenger was John Jones, famed for his multiple escapes from captivity, including from Ruthin jail. He travelled on the tram in 1906 and passed himself off in Llanbedrog as a sailor on shore leave, spending lavishly at local hostelries. Soon after, he was arrested for having beaten up a 71-year-old woman in Abererch to steal £10 from her.

The tramway was single track with many short loop lines for trams in opposite directions to pass each other. It was damaged by storms many times, starting in 1896. The Andrews family installed protective sea defences but storm damage in 1927 caused the line’s permanent closure, although trams continued to run within Pwllheli for another year.

This tramcar was a feed store on a local farm until it was discovered in 1967. After renovation, it formed an unusual tourist information centre in Pwllheli in the 1980s. With funding from the Llŷn Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the tram was refurbished before being installed at Plas Glyn-y-Weddw in 2016.

Today the Wales Coast Path follows the route of the tramway east of Llanbedrog.

Postcode: LL53 7TT    View Location Map

Website of Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw

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