PUBLIC transport in Bournemouth, as in any town, has always been important to the smooth running of a community.

In Bournemouth public transport started in 1840 with the stagecoach Emerald which passed through the town every weekday between Southampton and Weymouth. Next came the railways and by the 1880s several operators provided horse drawn omnibus services between the town centre and Westbourne, Winton, Springbourne, Boscombe and Southbourne.

In 1899 the British Electric Company ( BET) obtained powers to operate a single tramway line between Poole, Upper Parkstone and County Gates and construction began the following year. The three and three quart mile line opened 11months later.

BET tried to extend the tramway through Bournemouth and Christchurch but this was opposed by Bournemouth Corporation who applied for a Tramways Act to construct tramways in the borough. A series of legal battles ended with BET agreeing to sell all their tramways interests in the area. Poole Corporation bought the tramway interests in Poole, including the depot at Ashley Road, Upper Parkstone which it leased to Bournemouth Corporation in 1905 for 30 years.

Meanwhile Bournemouth Corporation constructed its own tramways starting with the Lansdowne to Pokesdown service via Christchurch Road and Boscombe, opening to the public in July 1902.

In the same year services to the Lansdowne to Boscombe, via Holdenhurst Road and Ashley Road, Lansdowne to Westbourne via the Square and the top of Richmond Hill to Capstone Road, opened.

In 1903 there were tramways going from Lansdowne to Cemetery Junction, Cemetery Junction to Winton, Winton to Moordown, and the Square to the top of Holdenhurst Road.

Not everybody was in favour of the trams,

"Bath Road friends called it a 'suicidal policy' and a 'wasteful extravagance'.They did not want the 'thundering noise' of the tramcars running through their streets late at night and early in the morning. The idea of taking passengers from the Square to County Gates for a penny seemed absurd", said a news report at the time.

The short gap route at County Gates was not closed until 1905 when a through service began between Poole and the Square, which extended to Christchurch in 1903. A new concrete Tuckton Bridge had to be built to accommodate the trams.

The final tramway came into operation when the Lower Parkstone loop opened for traffic three years later.

The tramway offices were originally at Lansdowne Crescent before moving to Wootton Gardens in 1920 and then transferring to the Central depot at Southcote Road. Depots also opened at Pokesdown and Moordown in 1906.

In 1908 when a tramcar left the rails in Avenue Road, Bournemouth, and crashed into the garden of a house, killing seven passengers and injuring 25 all trams had to be fitted with 'special brakes'.

Gwen Battrick's father Bill Stride was employed by Bournemouth Transport from 1915 - 1959 working on the trams and the trolleybuses and received a long service certificate from Bournemouth Transport when he retired.

"Bill started working on the trams when he was 16 as a 'points boy' at Cemetery Junction before becoming a conductor. He served in the Great War in 1917 and after the war returned to work on the trams as a conductor, then a driver", said Gwen of Iford who worked at the Bournemouth Transport depots at Moordown and Southcote Road during the Second World War.

"He played for Bournemouth Transport FC for years before joining the team's management committee. He was married to Pearl whose father ran Burt's Farm in Moordown".

David Cherrett of Moordown has photographs of his grandfather Frederick Montague Cherrett who was a conductor on trams in Bournemouth.

"I know little about my grandfather except he was awarded a Bournemouth Corporation Merit Stripe certificate in 1926 and given a special bonus of four shillings under the Bonus scheme. He also played football for Bournemouth Trams", said David Cherrett of Moordown.

Another Bournemouth resident, Robert Tarrant, has fond memories of using the trams to get to school at Westbourne from Holdenhurst Road. He also played trams with his sister as the conductor on the stairs of the family home and still has a conductor's tram whistle.

At its maximum the fleet consisted of 131 passenger trams and the breakdown tram.

The arrival of motor buses signalled the gradual demise of the trams. Trams operated at a maximum speed of 16 mph and buses were restricted to 12 mph but once the restrictions were lifted the buses travelled much faster at 30mph.

From 1934 Bournemouth Corporation replaced trams with trolleybuses, the last tramcar service ran from Christchurch to the Square on April 8 1936.

Many of the trams were transported to Wales. Bill Stride was among a party that moved the last tram there in 1956.