Colins Place
Southampton City Transport

© Colin Parker

Brief History

    The Southampton Tramways Company began operating a horse tramway, with lines from Portswood to Canute Road via the High Street and the London & South Western Railway station, at the docks, in May 1879. The Corporation purchased this tramway in 1898, and from 1900 proceeded to electrify and expand the system.

    Buses had first been used experimentally in 1901, but it was not until 1919 that they proved a success, working from St.James Road to the Clock Tower, and later from Bitterne to the Floating Bridge. These services were extended to form a connection between Woolston and Southampton Floating Bridges, acting as feeders to the tramway, and in the late 1920's and early 1930's, routes to Sholing, Houndswell, Swathling, Portswood and Maybush were commenced. Tramway abandonment was to start in 1935, but in the event only one route had been replaced by buses, by the outbreak of war in 1939. After the war a more rapid replacement of the trams saw the last route replaced in January 1950.

    The early motor buses had been of Thornycroft manufacture, with bodywork built by the Corporation. Leyland in 1925, Guy and Morris in 1926, and AEC in 1930 were also patronised. The first double deckers came in 1919, being Thornycroft chassis, with Southampton Corporation bodies. The first Guy Arabs with Park Royal bodywork were purchased in 1934, and in the late 1930's the Leyland Titan was favoured after trials in 1936, with various types of chassis. Southampton purchased only Guy chassis from 1944 until 1956, the vast majority of which were Guy Arab Mk111's with Park Royal double deck bodies. Six under floor engined Guy Arab UF's with standee bodywork were added to the fleet in 1952 and a further six similar machines arrived in 1955, followed in 1957 and 1958 by three small capacity Albion Nimbuses with Alexander bodywork for special services, such as the one to Eastleigh Airport. From 1961 there was a change of vehicle policy and double deckers on AEC Regent V and Leyland Titan PD2 / 27 chassis with Park Royal bodywork arrived. From 1963 the order for bodywork was entrusted to East Lancashire Coachbuilders on the Regent V chassis, and all deliveries up to 1967 were of this type. The last AEC chassis to be purchased were single deck Swifts in 1967 and 1968, with Strachans bodywork. Since then the city has standardised on the combination of Leyland Atlantean chassis with 76-seat East Lancashire front entrance double deck bodywork, and following the withdrawal of the last open rear platform AEC Regents in August 1981, the operational fleet was of entirely of one type on various types of Atlantean chassis. An AEC Regent V was reinstated in 1982 for further service as a "vintage" bus, being available for private hire and city tours. In 1984 a Dennis Dominator and three Leyland Olympians were bought, for evaluation purposes, following cessation of production of the Atlantean, all fitted with East Lancs bodywork.

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