Tram ride through Norwich

  • Theme - Transport
  • Year - 1902
  • Location - Norwich
  • Filmmaker - Warwick Trading Company


This is one of the early films of the Warwick Trading Company, a film production company pioneering the exciting ‘new’ invention of cinema film at the beginning of the 20th century. The recording was taken from the open top of a tram in 1902, in order to show street scenes in Norwich and people going about their daily lives. The people all seem to be wrapped up warm and it looks as though there was a light dusting of snow on the ground in places.

In the early days of cinema, people often didn't believe that what they were seeing on-screen was real - they thought that there was some trick involved to make the images. Film companies like Warwick Trading would take film that showed people going about their everyday life so that when they came to the cinema, they would see themselves on the screen, thereby proving that cinema was not a trick. The prospect that members of the public might also be able to catch a glimpse of themselves amongst the footage was also a successful marketing ploy.

The short film follows one of the regular public transport routes into the city. Starting on Dereham Road at the Heigham Road/Old Palace Road crossroad the tram then heads into the city over the Grapes Hill/Barn Road crossroad. It moves past Charing Cross and the Free Library on the corner of Duke Street and from there, reaches Bank Plain. The Royal Hotel can be seen on the left and the iconic Agricultural Hall and Post Office are on the right, as the tram heads down Prince of Wales Road. The next shot follows the route back up towards Castle Meadow and Orford Place whilst looking back down towards the Castle Wall. The final shot was taken as the tram headed up the hill along St Benedict’s Street.

The first tram ran in Norwich on 30th July 1900. Building the network caused a great deal of disruption. A new road had to be constructed to link St Andrews with Bank Plain so that the trams did not need to negotiate the tight junction of Redwell Street and Prince’s Street.

The hub of the tram service was at Orford Place in the city centre, where there was a shelter for passengers. A maintenance depot was built on Silver Road near the junction with Denmark Road, whilst power came from a generating station in Duke Street.

There were 50 trams in all, each with 52 seats. The tramlines themselves were mainly built on a single track with a number of passing places along each of the routes. The network had seven routes, including one to Mousehold Heath and was able to serve most of the main roads leading to and from the city centre.

By the early nineteen thirties the network needed upgrading and buses were providing strong competition. The tram company was bought by what became Eastern Counties Omnibus Company who quickly closed the network. The last tram ran on 10th December 1935.

This footage is from one of the earliest films produced by the Warwick Trading Company. Founded in 1898 by Will Barker and Charles Urban, Warwick Trading quickly expanded and from July 1910, it started producing the Warwick Bioscope Chronicle, a newsreel which was intended to rival British Pathé.

EAFA cat no: 294

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  • Not one 'fat' person! Walking seemed to be the in thing and the 'pick up truck' was a hand cart!By: Kevin Dean - 2774 days ago
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