When trams could first run on the east side of the Bargate
LA Bargate and its surroundings have undergone many changes over the years and 90 years ago a short but significant chapter in the monument’s long history was written.
On 27 May 1932 trams were able for the first time to bypass the eastern side of the Bargate rather than make the perilous journey through the arch.
It seems that as early as 1872 the old Bargate had been seen as a troublesome obstruction to trams vibrating and shaking through the streets of Southampton.
To alleviate this problem, it was at one time suggested that the central arch of the Bargate could be widened.
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Alternatively, there was a proposal to sell the structure to the Americans.
This latest idea caused such an uproar, including the whole subject highlighted in the now defunct Punch magazine, that the company was forced to think again.
The Bargate in the days when streetcar lines obliterated the roads around it and Burger King was a distant prospect.
The trams were then ordered to incorporate special features, including low bodies and knife-board upper deck seats, to allow them to pass through the Bargate.
These provisions were sufficient for a number of years, but in 1912 Southampton Council debated the idea of removing the Bargate to form an entrance to a proposed new Town Hall in West Marlands.
Again the matter was dropped until two years later when local councilors voiced the idea of moving the Bargate, but the Ancient Monuments Board intervened and again the plans were dropped.
Bargate with tram on the east side.
Local tram expert John Horne, writing in the 1979 publication 100 Years of Southampton Transport, wrote: “In September 1923 the Managing Director, Mr PJ Baker, presented the tram’s own solution to the problem.
“With the introduction of the new No. 12 car, the first ‘covered-top bargate’ tram allowed the use of an enclosed double-decker car through the old arch.
“The need was to get more people to use the service in bad weather and the solution was unique.
Photos of the Bargate Tramway which ran through Bargate from 1922 to 1938.
“Using a combination of low-wheel truck with high-speed traction motors and a purpose-built body with a molded roof in the contours of the arch, he produced a tram that became as quintessentially Southampton as it was unique. in the tram world.
“To ensure the necessary clearance, the causeway under the arch was lowered slightly and eventually a secret late night work with a hammer and chisel allowed cars to pass.” built, while six years later the road on the west side was completed.
The last tram passed the Bargate Arch on June 4, 1938 after 60 years of trouble for the passenger service.
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