The Opening of the Entire Tramway Route Poole to Christchurch.

Ian Messer

On the 17th October 2015 it was the 110th anniversary of the opening of the final section of the tramway route from Poole to Christchurch, the celebration of the opening was reported in the Christchurch Times as follows :-

The opening of the entire route

On Tuesday the formal opening of the tramway extension to  Christchurch took place amid indications of very widespread interest. The completion of this has secured for the district what was asked for by those representing the Boroughs of Christchurch, Poole and of the Light Railway Commissioners in the year 1898, and at the time vehemently opposed, successfully, by those representing Bournemouth. Happily better counsels have since prevailed and on Tuesday, without a single element of discord, there was a full and friendly foregathering of the governing bodies of the three boroughs, Christchurch, Bournemouth and Poole and also of Branksome which is immediately to be absorbed into the borough of Poole.

Tram in Christchurch High Street

Tram in Christchurch High Street, Dorset 1905

The Mayor of Bournemouth had issued invitations to the members of these bodies and their ladies and the officials and their ladies, to assemble at Bournemouth Square at 1.30 on Tuesday afternoon. At that time no less than eight well-appointed cars airily and daintily decorated drew up. These were soon boarded to their full capacity by the assembled crowd, and after a little delay to suit the exigencies of the photographic fraternity, the signal to advance was given and the road to Christchurch was taken.

Smooth and easy progress was made, and save for the necessary halt to change the current from “conduit” to “overhead”, the procession of cars wended its way to the boroughs’ boundary on Tuckton Bridge. Here a halt took place. The occupants of the Mayors’ car, which of course led, alighted. At the request of the Mayor of Christchurch, the Mayoress of Bournemouth, amid cheers, cut the tape “barrier” and tramway communication was opened.

The Mayor of Christchurch said: Your Worship, ladies and gentlemen, I have great pleasure in bidding you welcome today into the ancient borough of Christchurch. We have no massive gates to unlock, or bars to draw, in admitting you to the Borough, but it was an ancient custom and it is still a courtesy at the present time to have such a little ceremony as this. It is therefore with the greatest of pleasure that I welcome you today. Yes come with goodwill and with goodwill we welcome you.

The Mayor of Bournemouth, in response, said:  Your Worship, on behalf of the County Borough of Bournemouth, I wish to thank you most heartily for welcoming us here today. We are very glad of this bright and happy day. We know that the ancient industries of Christchurch have  departed but your ancient glories remain. You have been pictured as a comely old lady waiting and willing to welcome your young and beautiful daughter. It is because we know that we are welcome that we are glad to be here today and thank you for so heartily for receiving us.

Procession Tuckton Bridge

The procession crossing Tuckton Bridge, 17 October 1905

The Mayoral party, headed by the Mayor of Christchurch and the Mayoress of Bournemouth, immediately followed by the Mayor of Bournemouth and the Mayoress of Christchurch, and the remainder in couples, then crossed the bridge on foot. On entering the car again, the Mayoress of Christchurch, we understand, assumed the role of car driver and stood at her post to the present terminus. Returning to the Town Hall through crowded streets, the three Mayors, with the Mayoresses and Mace-bearers, alighted and entered the Town Hall lobby.

The Mayor (Lieut.-Col. Monckton) said: By the completion of this line today Bournemouth has given us a through tramway route to Bournemouth and Poole. I think it is generally accepted that any improvement in the  communication between the neighbouring towns is for the general good, not only for trading purposes, but also it tends to show people that their interests are the same. Therefore, I most heartily welcome you here and I wish success to the undertaking.

The Mayor of Bournemouth (Mr. J. E. Beale) said: I thank you most heartily for your welcome here today. You have already welcomed us at the borders of your ancient town, and now we have reached the heart of it we are very glad to be here. Like you we anticipate a brilliant future for this undertaking. I can only hope that as this is our wedding day, and we are now united, there will be henceforth no quarrelling, no misunderstandings, but perfect harmony and perfect peace between Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.

The Mayor of Poole (Mr. H. F. W. Gwatkin) thanked them most heartily for the reception given by the ancient borough which he believed was equal in age to Poole, if not older. He  congratulated all concerned on the completion of the tramway system, which linked the three towns together.

The Mayor of Bournemouth led off a round of cheers, after which the company resumed their seats on the cars and the return journey began.

Later in the day there was a reception in Bournemouth for four hundred people and in the evening a banquet at the Grand Hotel hosted by the company who constructed the tramway. One hundred and seventy people attended this banquet.


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