A cache placed to provide an insight into the Exeter Tram system which operated in the City during the early part of the 20th century.
At the posted coordinates you will be in close proximity to where the former tram depot stood. This no longer exists and was demolished to make way for housing.
You are looking for a stone plaque in the wall. Use the date on this plaque to calculate the coordinates for the cache.
Date: AB May CDEF
Cache location: N 50 43.B(A+E)(D-E), W 003 31.(A+C)F(B+E)
Cache: This is a short walk away, please bring a writing implement and tweezers may help to extract the log. Please do not post any spoilers.
In 1903 a Bill was passed in Parliament for the right to buy out the Exeter Tramways Company and for the city to build and run a new system. The cost of setting up the electric tramways was £65,200. The cost included £6,800 to buy out the previous company and all the track, stock and horses. Construction of the tramways involved considerable disruption to the High Street with the road being dug up and a number of properties being demolished to make way for the trams. This led to St Petrocks Church being on the street frontage (having previously been hidden) and the demolition of its porch.
The first test of the new electric trams took place on 24 March 1905 from the new depot at the end of Paris Street. The tram had just set off towards Livery Dole when all its lights went out. Fortunately this was found to simply be a minor problem with the engagement of the trolley arm and The Board of Trade Inspector approved the system.
The official opening was on 4 April 1905 at 12.30. Five Trams were lined up outside the Guildhall, including the only horse tram ever to travel down the High Street. The first electric tram was driven by the Mayor who was presented with a silver tram handle. Once the tram had travelled to Livery Dole and back, the Mayor gave a speech from the top deck of the first tram. By June 1905 the trams were already carrying 80,000 passengers per week. Special fares for workers were offered with cheaper fares for early morning and early evening travel.
The first services only operated from the Guildhall to Mount Pleasant Inn and from St David's to Livery Dole. By September 1906 however, the route crossing the bridge across the River Exe opened with a line out to Stone Lane in Alphington.
There was considerable debate about whether to carrying advertising on the trams. Adverts on tickets was introduced from start but many members of council felt that it was not appropriate for a corporation owned service. It was only in 1920 that advertising was carried routinely on the trams.
Although the trams continued to run during World War I, they faced severe difficulties. Almost 80% of the staff were involved with war service of some sort with 60% going to war overseas. Women were employed as conductresses but being a motorman (driver) was still seen as a man's job. Due to lack of trained staff, the trams often did not run the full length of the line, leaving passengers to walk to their destinations. The frequency of the trams was reduced in January 1918 from one every eight minutes to one every nine minutes but the trams were still often late and overcrowded. Maintenance also became an issue both from lack of materials and money to pay for them. This lack of maintenance may have contributed to the only fatal accident that ever occurred on the trams. On 6 March 1917 a tramcar got out of control on Fore Street Hill. It collided with a lorry belonging to the London and South Western Railway. A Mrs. Mary Findlay was killed when the car left the rails and overturned.
By the late 1920s, traffic in the centre of Exeter was becoming an increasing problem - especially during the summer. The High Street was a major bottleneck as almost all the through traffic had to pass along it. All vehicles coming from Bath or Honiton and going towards Plymouth, Torquay or Okehampton had to go through the centre of town and across the Exe Bridge. Between 1920 and 1930 the number of motor vehicles travelling along the High Street each day increased from 1,314 to 5,901. Although some bypass road were built such as Prince of Wales Road and the Hill Barton bypass to Countess Wear, this did little to solve the problems. Part of the problem was perceived to be due to the trams - especially so, given the narrow streets of parts of Exeter and the large proportion of the system which was single track.
In January 1931 the service along Alphington Road ended and the final trams ran on 19 August 1931. The last every tram was driven by Mr E.C. Perry who as mayor, had driven the first tram. The last tram, car 14, was followed by a double decker bus to usher in the new age. Mr E.C. Perry was presented with a silver-plated control handle and Mr Bradley, Chairman of the Transport Committee was presented the reverse lever which was also silver-plated and inscribed. One of the tramcars (No. 19) survived and was restored on the Seaton Tramway but as a single deck tram.