Monthly Archives: Mar 2018

The Nice to Levens Tramway – Part 2 (Chemins de Fer de Provence 56)

The Nice to Levens Tramway – Part 2

Tourrette-Levens to Levens via Saint-Blaise

The first part of the journey from Nice to Levens can be found on this link:

It brings us through the southern outskirts of Tourrette-Levens, past the perched village and castle on our right before joining Boulevard Léon Sauvan in the centre of the lower part of the village.

I drafted a blog a few years ago which focussed on the pinion expressed by others that the tramway found its way from Tourrette-Levens to Saint-Blaise before heading north to Levens, a route which requires quite a detour and a significant lengthening of the journey time compared with the more direct route along what is now the M19 to Levens. That blog can be found by following the link below:

The featured image at the top of this blog is a copy of a map from the 1800s. Careful inspection of the image will show the purported route of the tramway between St. Blaise and Levens, marked as a road (or track) on the map. The quality of roads in the area at this time was poor. Images on postcards show that roads were little more than dirt tracks alongside the trams. When they were first installed the trams must have been a major step forward for transportation in Les Alpes Martimes. The possible route between St. Blaise and Levens is marked on Satellite images later in this blog.

Sadly, the planned route of the tramway between St. Blaise and Tourrette-Levens is much less clear. And analysis of satellite images does not provide a great deal of information about any possible route

I have come to the conclusion that the route via St. Blaise and Aspremeont was considered but never built. This is suggested by Jose Banuado[1] and By Jean Robert [2] as pointed out by 242T66 on the Passions Metrique et Etroite Forum[3].

So, in the sprint of all good railway modellers’ ‘might have been’ stories which support their layouts. Here is my might have been, for the route via Aspremont and St. Blaise. ……..

A ‘Might Have Been Tramway Route’ Between Tourette-Levens and Levens, via Aspremont and Saint-Blaise!!

What might have been …………….. A relatively sharp left turn took the supposed tramway out of Tourrette-Levens towards Aspremont on what is now the M719. On the first satellite image below the junction can be seen middle-right and the rout heads up to the centre-top of the image before exiting top left. The two houses in the top-left corner of the image can be seen on the bottom-right of the following image, for a short distance the route travelled roughly in a Westerly direction before turning north to follow the contours around a small valley, then rounding a hillside before leaving the image close to the top-left corner. I ahve not been able to find any images which relate to the tram route between Tourrette-Levens and Saint Blaise and so am not able to be absolutely sure of the route, form this point on, however the lie of the land suggests that the tram will have followed what are now the roads linking Aspremont and Saint Blaise.The road out of Tourrette-Levens is named Route d’Aspremont (M719). It follows the contours as much as possible, to keep gradient shallow for the trams. The route shows clearly on the map below.Aspremont was approached from the East. The road running North to South narrows to not much wider than what would have been the formation of the tramway in the region of La Plaine and La Prarie above. The road, by now, is known as Route de Tourrette.The route then curves to the East to approach Aspremont.Aspremont is to the left of the satellite image below and the tramway route comes in on the right of the image just below centre. It approaches the perched village  curving southwards before taking a hairpin turn in the market area of the village before heading northwards on the Route de Castagniers.On the image above, the trams from Tourrette-Levens arrived from along the road on the immediate right of the chapel and trams from Saint-Blaise (and Levens) arrived from the left of the picture. The route out of Aspremont is shown on the image below.Travelling north from Aspremont the tramway followed the Route de Castagniers high above the valley of the River Var on a ruling grade downwards towards the junction of the road to Castagniers and Saint-Blaise.
The route continued approximately northwards, high above, the Var through La Loubiere and La Croix de Fer, still on a gently downward grade. At La Croix de Fer (below) the tramway turned away from the Var to head westwards towards Saint-Blaise.As the trams approached St. Blaise they were still running on a downward ruling grade and had to negotiate two hairpin bends as they approached the village. The tramway stayed above the village itself heading for what was in its day a suspension bridge carrying the route over the valley of a fast flowing tributary of the River Var. The replacement bridge can be seen in the google streetview image below.The original bridge was an 80 metre long suspension bridge just outside St. Blaise. Built for the tramway in 1908, it also carried the St. Blaise to Levens road. This graceful suspension bridge was destroyed during the Second World War.zoom_311The replacement bridge was not built until 1953, by which time, in this scenario, the trams were long gone!After crossing the Pont de Massena the trams headed along the M14 towards Levens. In our imaginary scenario, these next few satellite images show the route from Levens to St. Balise to meet up with the Pont de Massena.

In this scenario, the tramway left Levens on the road now called the  Avenue General de Gaule and then turned right onto the Route de Saint-Blaise (M14) and then followed that road all the way to Saint-Blaise.

Please note,again, that the description in italics above and the images which go with it are of an imaginary, “might-have-been,” route of the Levens tramway. Ultimately, this “might-have-been” scenario, is supported, primarily, by just two things. The suspension bridge at Saint-Blaise, shown some distance above, and the profile of the possible route through the Village of Saint-Blaise.

The Actual Tramway Route Between Tourette-Levens and Levens, along what is now the M19!!

I hope the text above has not confused you too much! It is a “flight-of-fancy” based on a few sources which I used when looking at the route back in late 2017 while on holiday in Nice. I think some lengths of the road, and probably the suspension bridge were built with an alternative tramway route in mind. But the tramway was never built.

The actual tramway route followed what is now the M19. According to the works of Jean Robert [2] and José Banaudo,[1] the tram to Levens did not pass through Saint Blaise but followed, mainly on the shoulder of the M19, sometimes on the road and also a few kilometres on an independent formation. The route travelled through Moulins-de-Tourette, Tourrette-Levens, Laval and Ste Claire, to end at the place called Les Traverses, below the village of Levens. The line was put into service in June 1908.

An extension of one km was under construction towards Levens-Village in 1914, but the works were delayed and then suspended by the war and, despite some sort of recovery after the war and the construction of a 95-m-long tunnel in a semicircle the permanent way was not laid and the extension was never opened.[3]

242T66 comments about the Masséna suspension bridge at Saint Blaise: “it dates from 1911 and was destroyed by bombing in 1944. Since 1953 it is replaced by a concrete bridge with a large arch. Given that an itinerary had been planned to pass the tram through Aspremont, Castagniers and St Blaise, which would have served a larger population but at the cost of a longer and more expensive line than that of the valley, it is possible to think that the road from St Blaise to Levens and the suspension bridge had been made with the idea of ​​being able to pass the tram.”[3]

So, back to Tourette-Levens, and this time no flights of fancy!

The station at Tourrette-Levens was on Boulevard Léon Sauvan in the centre of the lower part of the village. As trams left the centre of Tourrette-Levens they followed the present M19.

The road and the tramway swing sharply away to the East after leaving the northern edge of Toureete-Levens.

The M19 is known as the Avenue du Canton de Levens and swings north as it meets the valley of the Rio Sec. It runs high above the river in the valley below. It then crosses the river and travels on its North-East bank, towards La ColumbierLe Plan d’Arriou, below, is followed by Le Columbier.The route continues along the M19 towards Levens through Laval and closely following the North-East bank of the Rio Sec, along the Route de Levens and then Avenue Felix Faure before entering the area of Saint-Claire (the third image below). As Avenue General De Gaulle stretches ahead of us we atart to pass thorugh the locations of early 20th Century images. The first is of a tram in the snow.In the modern image, there is no snow, the trees are planted approximately in the line of the tramway and, of course, the roundabout is new!This next pair of images are difficult to tie together but the bend in the road in the modern image correlates to the bend in the centre of the older postcard. As can be seen in the old postcard the tramway was separated form the untarmacked (dirt) road by a small kerb, and the road was only wide enough for one vehicle.Just round the bend, in the modern image above, we reach the location of this next postcard which is well composed with the tram in the foreground in front of the small hamlet with Levens sitting nicely under the hills beyond. The modern image below shows the same location in the 21st Century. The railings and buildings tie down the location, the trams are long-gone and the road is now a much more substantial.The postcard above shows the road/tramway coming in from the right towards Les Traverses and heading towards Levens in the background. Trams continued along the road towards Levens, through Les Traverses and on towards Saint-Roch where they terminated in the valley below the village of Levens.The Saint-Roch terminus is shown below.Again the modern image approximates the camera position from the postcard as best can be. It was always intended that this terminus of the tramway should be temporary. The promoters planned to access the centre of the village of Levens and work was well underway at the advent of the Great War. That conflict resulted in all works being placed on hold, despite most of the infrastructure being in place. The buses now follow the planned route for the trams from Saint-Roch to Levens Village.

Trams reached Levens (Saint-Roch) in 1908 – work had started on the line in 1906. It was abandonned by the mid-1930s. Throughout the life of the service, there was only limited take-up of the service by the public, three trams ran each day in each direction along the full length of the route, supplemented by some partial services.[4]

Two interesting views came to light while looking at images of Levens for possible evidence of the route of the trams. Both seem to show a viaduct or aqueduct.Some discussion about these images on Passions Metrique et Etroite resulted in what is now little more than a garden wall with arched openings being found on the Route de la Roquette.So, is it just that, or is it the remains of an ancient aqueduct. In the postcard images it seems more substantial than in the google earth images from 21st Century. What is it?


  1. Jose Banuado; Nice au Fil du Tram Vol. 2, Les Editions du Cabri, 2005.
  2. Jean Robert; Les Tramways de Nice et de la Côte d’Azur, 1988.
  3. 242T66; Passions Metrique et Etroite Forum; Archéologie Ferroviaire, les TAM;, 26th March 2018.
  4.—de-l-apogee-au-declin/31975780.html, accessed 15th March 2018.

The Nice to Levens Tramway – Part 1 (Chemins de Fer de Provence 55)

The Nice to Levens Tramway was part of the TNL (Les Tramways de Nice et du Littoral) and full details of the network can be found on my blog at the following link:

The line to Levens was an extension of the line from Place de Massena to Saint-André-de-la-Roche – Ligne 14 of the network in Nice. Trams for Levens were numbered 30.

The lower part of the route is highlighted on the Google Satellite images here. This covers the length from Tourrette-Levens to Nice (or vice-versa) and is in three parts, the first image shows the length immediately north of Les Moulins. The second, the length south of Les Moulin’s through the present day quarries north of Saint-André-de-la-Roche. And the final length covers the route from Saint-André-de-la-Roche to Place Massena. Place Massena is just visible north of the coast at the bottom of the last image above.

Our journey on the tramway starts at Place Massena in Nice.

Trams for Levens left Place Massena along the road at the centre-rear of the postcard image above. Rue Gioffredo heads to the right in front of the shop buildings at the rear of the square. Trams then turned right onto Boulevard Carabacel and left onto Avenue Gallieni, before heading out of Nice alongside the River Paillon on Avenue de Marechal Lyautey and Avenue Joseph Raybaud.

The tram route left the River Paillon on the line of the M19, Quai de La Banquiere which then becomes first the Route de Levens and then the Avenue du Haut-Pays. The following images give an impression of the route, although it must be born in mind that the quarrying enterprise north of Saint-André-de-la-Roche has expanded considerably in recent years.

There were small deviations in the route of the tramway from the modern M19, although most of these were very short, only a matter of a few metres, and were usually the result of engineers seeking a path for the wider, newer road. This is true at La Clue, shown above.

The first ‘significant’ deviation that I can identify, away from the line of the main modern M19 is shown on the adjacent map. The Avenue de Haut-Pays splits either side of the River Banqiere over a short distance. The newer, wider road is to the West, the older road which follows the route of the tram is to the East of the river. When the trams were in use the road surface would not have been of the highest quality and the roads were still relatively narrow. The picture below shows where the two roads named Avenue de Haut-Pays split. The bus stop shown on the map is on the right of the picture. There was inadequate room to widen the old road at this location, so a new road was built along with two new bridges over the River (La Banquiere).This next picture shows the point where the modern M19 rejoins the older and narrower road/tramway.The tramway approached Les Moulins on a steady grade before branching off the lower road through the village and crossing a tributary of La Banquiere (Ruisseau de Rio-Sec) at a higher level. These next pictures show the tramway formation leaving the main M19 road along what is now called Chemin de l’Ecole des Moulins.The bridge over the Ruisseau de Rio-Sec also crossed the road up the valley – Le Chemin de Tralatorre. Immediately after crossing the valley the tramway entered a tunnel which took it back into the main valley of La Banquiere above the village of Les Moulins.The route, including the viaduct and the tunnel, appears clearly as Chemin de l’Ecole des Moulins on the map below.

The tramway remained above the valley floor, first following the Chemin de l’Ecole des Moulins and they a footpath which is now named Sentier de la Gorghette until it reached what are now the outskirts of Tourrette-Levens. The map above and that alnogside these notes shows the route. The images below show the same length of road directly above and to the East of the main M19.

The satellite images travel in sequence from the south to the north, starting at Les Moulins and heading towards Tourrette-Levens. The swimming pools evident on these satellite images would not have been present when the tramway was in use and there would have been far fewer buildings hidden in the landscape.

The last in the next sequence of images is not a satellite image, rather it shows the point at the edge of Tourrette-Levens today where the tramway entered the town. The camera is facing approximately southwards looking down the Sentier de la Gorghette.

Turning to face north once again, this next view looks down the line of the tramway towards Tourrette-Levens. Subsequent images take the tramway down into the village.In Tourrette-Levens, we have a few pictures of the tram/tramway while it was in operation. The first image is very small, but it shows a tram on the main street (now the M19) of the village, Boulevard Léon Sauvan. The image below shows a tram bound for Levens sitting at the stop in Tourette-Levens. The fact that trams were able to pass at Tourrette-Levens is evident in the presence of two sets of rials which created the passing place. The image bears a copyright stamp from the Retro Photo Catalogue.[1] The image which follows that also bears a copyright stamp but is from Cartes et Patrimone.[2] The full details of the sites which hold the copyright are shown in the references below. The two images are from the same series of copyright free postcard images from the turn of the 20th Century. They are numbered sequentially, 3250 and 3251 and probably come from the camera of the same photographer. (I’d appreciate any details that readers can provide).

The route of the tramway continues from Tourrette-Levens towards Levens. This was one of the routes which drew my attention some years ago because it seemed to follow a far more difficult route to Levens than the present road. My first stab at a blog on the line from Tourrette-Levens to Levens can be found on this link:

I hope that link provides a taster for the next post (part 2 of this journey) which will hopefully provide more details about the route of the tramway between Tourrette-Levens and Levens.


  1. Retro Photo: La Banque d’Images Anciennes;, accessed 20th March 2018.
  2. Cartes et Patrimone;, accessed 20th March 2018.





The Network of the Tramways of Nice and the Littoral (Chemins de Fer de Provence 53)

Tramway de Nice et du Littoral

There were a series of tramways which extended different arms of Le Tramway de Nice et du Littoral (TNL). We have already followed the route of the Sospel to Menton tramway which extended the coastal/urban line between Nice and Menton into the mountains close to the coast. Menton to Villa Caserta, opened in October 1911 and Villa Caserta to Sospel opened in 1912.[3]

The TNL was a tramway network that served Nice and the municipalities of the Alpes-Maritimes department between 1878 and 1953.

Around 1833, a Monsieur Legrand, owner of the Hotel de France which is sited on what is now the Quai des Etats-Unis, bought a large omnibus in Paris and three large horses. He ran a twice daily service from Nice to Le Pont de Var which at the time marked the border between France and Italy.[10] The fare was 40 centimes.

One of his competitors, Monsieur Laupias, proposed in 1845 two services at an hour’s frequency between Cagnes sur mer and the Place Saint Dominique, as well as between the Paillon and the Faubourg du Ray. In 1854, another service commenced linking Pont Vieux (Place Garibaldi) with Le Ray.

After Nice was attached to France in 1860, the PLM railway arrived in 1864 and Nice became a preferred tourist destination for a wealthy class of traveller. At the same time, the town was growing north of Paillon. Urban planners adopted a network of perpendicular roads, but of a fairly modest width, sufficient, however, to encourage the circulation of horse-drawn omnibuses. By 1865, a network of horse drawn omnibus routes had been established.[9]

Monsieur Laupias was responsible for the expansion of the network of l’Entreprise Générale des Omnibus de la Ville and the railways. He set up two new lines: one between the PLM station and the port, and the other between the Place Charles-Albert and the Saint Barthélémy district of the city.

These horse-drawn services were ultimately short-lived as Nice began to talk about inaugurating tram services as a result of seeing tramways being developed in industrial cities further north in France. Several attempts were made to implement tramway working. One of these endeavours even sought to make use of compressed air to propel the trams.[11]

The Société Financière de Paris , associated with the Société de Travaux Publics et de Constructions, was responsible for the construction and operation of a horse-drawn tramway network in 1876 in the city of Nice. The first horse drawn tramway service was commissioned on 27th February 1878 and inaugurated on 3rd March. A series of 4 lines made up the early network … Place Massena to Magnan Bridge, a separate line from Magnan Bridge to Saint Helena, and two other lines from Place Massena, one to Saint-Maurice and the other to Abattoirs. The lines were single-track and of metre-gauge.

Soon after the first lines were completed the tramway system was placed in the care of the Compagnie Generale des Omnibus in Marseille. This arrangement lasted until 1887 when that company went into liquidation. After its collapse, La Société Nouvelle des Tramways de Nice (SNTN) resumed operation of the network.

In addition, in 1895, the Compagnie Anonyme des Tramways Electriques of Nice-Cimiez was awarded a concession for a new tram line, between the street of the Hotel des Postes and the zoological garden of Cimiez. This line was a 600mm track-gauge and used electric traction batteries because of its steep gradients, the design was seen by the promoters at a technical exhibition in Lyon in 1894.[10]

Cimiez: the appearance of the first electric tram

A casino, a zoological park and a theatre were established in Cimiez, near the Roman arena. After flirting with the idea of a steam powered service from Nice to Cimiez, the owners of the site set up the Compagnie Anonyme des Tramways Electriques of Nice-Cimiez

Unofficially the trams started running on 27th February 1895, the service was interrupted on 10th March because of fire at the generating plant. The servicecresumed on 20th June but was halted on 12th July as the required legal processes had not been followed. Eventually, on 22nd November the company was declared as being ‘d’utilité publique'[4] and an official inauguration took place on the 25th November

The 3.9 km long line had very steep gradients, 8 trams were in service on the line. Six daily services were provided in the winter and a half-hourly service was available in summer months. Stops were on request, except on the steepest sections of the line. The trams were powered by an 8bhp motor and had a maximum capacity of 32 people. Redesign of the trams took place very early in the life of the tramway, the wheelbase and overall length of the trams were shortened and the single 8bhp power unit was replaced by two 50bhp motors. The people of Nice nicknamed the trams the “slugs”.[10]

The Cimiez tramway was again taken out of operation in 1899, to allow a revision to the electrical power system and tompermit integration with the wider metre-gauge tram network in the City of Nice. The line was operating again by January 1900.

La Compagnie des Tramways de Nice et du Littoral (TNL)

Within two years of its foundation, La Société Nouvelle des Tramways de Nice had been replaced by La Compagnie des Tramways de Nice et du Littoral (TNL). The company set itself a series of goals relating to the improvement an expansion of the urban network:

  • to create a Coastal Network , extending from Cagnes to Menton , with connections to other networks in Nice and at Contes .
  • to electrify the urban network.
  • to resume operation of the Cimiez line, abandoning the accumulator tramway and converting it to metric gauge.

The company was effective in meeting its initial goals and it created an extensive network centred on the Place de Massena in Nice. A few images of the Place de Massena follow ………

Lines opened or reopened as follows:[1]

  • Nice – Cimiez , January 1900
  • Place Massena – Villefranche-sur-Mer , February 1900
  • Nice – Saint Laurent du Var, February 1900
  • The port – Saint Maurice, February 1900
  • Nice – Cagnes, March 1900
  • Nice – Contes , June 1900
  • Nice – Beaulieu, June 1900
  • Magnan – Saluzzo (via Lépante Street), November 1902
  • Gambetta – Massena (via avenue Joseph Garnier), November 1902

All the lines were electrified by underground gutter as soon as they were put into service, and a fleet of 100 motor-trams was ordered.

In total, for the construction of the 12 urban lines and the first 3 sections of the suburban network, it took only 2 years to lay a total of no less than 94 km of network (150 km of single track)! From 31st December 1899, the tests of the first of the Thomson-Houston, Thomson-powered motor-trams, equipped with 2 engines of 35 bhp were carried out inside the depot at Sainte Agathe. There were 30 of these yellow and white trams in two classes. The initial plan had been to provide a limited number of 1st Class trams. This idea proved unsuccessful and the 1st Class trams were later converted to standard class. When first in operation these 6 1st Class trams were marked with a colour code.

Service frequency on the urban network was high. Generally, services started at 5.30am and ended at around midnight. However, the first departure from Cagnes-sur-Mer (for the florists) was scheduled at 3am! A TNL kiosk was built in 1901 to act as a ticket office and an information desk at the heart of the network.

Menton and its Trams[14]

The coastal network took 3 years of work to reach Menton and to create a branch-line between Place Saint Roch and Place Caserta. The trams provided strong competition for the PLM along the coast and the PLM took every opportunity to obstruct the construction of the underpasses and bridges required for the line, and prohibited the installation of a terminus in front of the station at Menton. Finally, the TNL decided to drop their passengers 25m  from the PLM station, at the foot of the climb to the station yard. The trams finally provided a service to Menton by 22nd December 1902, and the connection with the station was operational by July 1903.[12]

Completion of the line to Menton provided a continuous service from Cagnes-sur-Mer to Menton. By this time the TNL had over 94km of lines, 29km in Nice, 12km in Cagnes, nearly 16km of the line to Contes and nearly 38km of tracks on the line to Menton via Monte Carlo.

CP-Villefranche-BeaulieuThe shoreline was itself a tourist object: the panorama of the Mediterranean and the villages did not lack charm. On the heights of Beaulieu, the tram takes the pose with a platform abundantly stocked for the occasion.CP-nice-VillefrancheAnother view of the coast line with a motor-tram running on the Corniche at Villefranche sur Mer. The road was still made only of dirt and gravel, and in the shadow of the tramway there is a cart pulled either by a donkey or by a horse.An attempt to provide a reversible train with two motor-trams framing a trailer-car on the line of Monte-Carlo. The power of the leading motor-tram proved to be inadequate for the load.  

The Tramway Company of Monaco

The Compagnie des Tramways de Monaco was founded in 1897 by Mr. Crovetto, a Monegasque entrepreneur. The company obtained concessions for a number of different lines, as listed below before, in 1908, becoming part of the TNL:

  • Place d’Armes – Saint Roman, opened on May 1898
  • Gare de Monaco – Place du Gouvernement, opened on March 1899
  • Casino – Monte Carlo Station, opened May 1900.
  • Nice – Monte CarloCarlo, opened in 1900.

The Cote d’Azur is a stunning series of headlands, towns and villages alongside the azur-blue waters of the Mediterranean sea. Wikipedia has produced an excellent introduction to the coast-line – Road by the sea[2].

La ligne de Monaco et Menton

This line connected towns and cities along the Corniche: Nice, Villefranche, Beaulieu, Monaco and Monte Carlo by a route established on the Basse Corniche. The line opened towards the end of 1903 and was quickly followed by the completion of an extension from Monaco to Menton just in time for Christmas 1903. The line was separate from, but connected to the tramway network in Monaco.

Further Extensions

The  network continued to grow. The TNL began to extend inland into Les Alpes Maritimes department creating a network of single track metre-gauge lines which served key villages and towns in the hinterland. It also extended and consolidated it presence in the urban areas along the coast. The departmental network not provided extended access into Nice and the coastal towns for local people, it was perceived as creating significant opportunities for tourism.

The Departmental Network

The departmental network included 14 proposed lines shared between the TNL, the TAM and the Compagnie des chemins de fer du Sud de la France . The TAM was actually a subsidiary of La Compagnie des chemins de fer du Sud de la France and the larger company decided to confine tramway operations to the TAM despite having a shared track-gauge. Other blog posts provide details of some of these TAM lines, particularly:

The lines were shared out using geographical criteria which resulted in the TNL being offered the following concessions:

All these lines were declared ‘d’utilité publique'[4] on 10th February 1906.[1]

Once the network opened its line from Cagnes-sur-Mer to Antibes it was able to connect to the tram network in Cannes .[5]

Developments in the Urban Network

One further line was introduced in 1908, that between Magnan/Le Madeleine and the centre of Nice.

Magnan is a valley located west of Nice. Today it is urbanised and used to designate one of the districts of Nice. The river which flows through the valley is called Le Magnan (or Torrent de Magnan).[6] This is a short coastal river of 12.6km in length. Le Madeleine[7] was the small village with a chapel in the valley.

The line from Menton to Sospel

This line connecting Menton to Sospel was opened on April 15, 1912, as part of the construction of the departmental network. Its length was 18km . It marked the last extension of the TNL.

The peak of the tramway network and its demise

In fifteen years, the growth of the population of Nice and the surrounding towns and villages necessitated a rapid development of the network. The advent of the Great War prevented any further development of the network.

At the end of the war, the network was in need of an in-depth modernization programme. However, it was not until 1924 that the authorities granted the TNL the authorization to increase tariffs.

A refurbishment program was initiated, significant improvements were intended for the trams themselves but these improvements were not introduced in full.[12] Changes were made in different ways to different batches of limited numbers of trams.

A major study in 1921, looked at the possibility of providing a tramway tunnel under Monaco, but the proposal did not see the light of day.

To speed up service and reduce operating costs, a system of fixed and optional stops was introduced. Buses began to be introduced by the TNL in October 1921 under the company name, Société Anonyme Niçoise de Transports Automobiles, to serve remote villages where the tram no longer operated. The TNL also bought its own buses.

10 Schneider Type H buses similar to the one above were purchased. They were similar to those in use in Paris. They arrived in Nice in 1925. They were followed in a short period of time by 3 Somua MAT2 buses.

Despite reducing revenues, the TNL decided to build a new series of trams strongly inspired by the Parisian L-type, and adapted to the Nicois metre-gauge track. Eight reversible motor trams were were ordered along with trailers. The trams were 200bhp and had a 3.60m wheelbase. These performed well on straight track but found the windowing nature of much of the network difficult.

After the Great War, very quickly, other forms of transport began to develop in competition with the tramways. These began to be regarded as more modern than the tramways. A number of accidents occurred on the network which began to result in a lessening in confidence in trams as an appropriate form of transport beyond the immediate urban areas.[8] There was an increasingly vociferous anti-tram lobby.

The above images show the extent of the tram network in 1925, both within Nice and along the coast.[13]

In 1925, the TNL network had 144 km of track, & a fleet of 183 motor trams and 96 trailers.[15] The tramways were also used to transport goods and a series of wagons were also purchased. Goods were transported within Nice to and from the station of Le Chemin de Fer de Provence. Coal was transported from the port to other parts of the city, and cement, lime and gas were transported from the cement factory in Contes to various areas of Nice. The Sospel to Menton line was used for construction materials for the building of the railway line from Nice to Breil-sur-Roya.

Initially, it was the coastal tram lines that suffered strongest competition from road vehicles. But, across the whole network, cars and lorries and their inherent flexibility came to dominate the public’s choices over transport use. The coastal lines between urban centres disappeared between 1929 and 1932. By 1934, the longer suburban lines had all disappeared. Nevertheless, the tramway was not yet banned from the city, even if criticism from part of the population was growing. 

In 1927, André Mariage[16] took the presidency of TNL and STCRP, amplifying the hostility towards the tramway. The election of Jean Médecin at the head of the municipality, who was a virulent opponent of the tramway, seemed to legitimise those who saw the tramway as a symbol of the past.

Over following years the municipality decided to close different urban lines and by 1939 only four lines remained open:

  • Line 3: Abattoirs – La Madeleine – Trinidad Victor
  • Line 9: Port – Saint Augustins
  • Line 22: PLM station – Carras
  • Line 35: Rue Hotel des Postes- Cimiez

During the Second World War, two urban lines were reopened as the buses which had been gradually being introduced were requisitioned for the war effort:

  • Line 6: Level crossing – Pasteur
  • Line 7: Level crossing – Riquier

And two lines into the hinterland: the one to Contes and the one to La Grave de Peille.

The network had, by the end of 1942, 48 motor-trams and 22 trailers (some motor-trams were rebuilt in 1942).

After the Second World War, the tramway systems, having suffered from years of war/occupation and neglect, were replaced by trolleybuses . The trolleybuses were put into service from 1942 on the Cimiez line (line 35). The last tram ran on the whole network on 10th January 1953.

Lines disappeared slowly over a period of years: the line to La Grave de Peille closed in 1947, line 22 closed at the end of 1948. The line to Contes and Line 6 closed in 1950, and lines 3 and 9 closed in 1951. Line 7 was the last line in operation and closed, as we have already noted, on 10th January 1953.

Rolling stock 


  • No.1 to 100, were sourced from the workshops of Saint-Denis.
  • No. 101 to 106, were sourced in 1903 from Brissonneau and Lotz.
  • No. 111 to 130, were delivered in 1904 by Thomson-Houston.
  • No. 151 to 170, came in 1906 from Thomson-Houston.
  • No. 201 to 216, were sourced  in 1910 from Thomson-Houston.
  • No. 251 to 258, were delivered in 1925 by les Établissements Soulé.


  • No. 301 to 316, delivered in 1908 by les Établissements Soulé.
  • No. 351 to 358, delivered in 1925 by les Établissements Soulé.
  • No. 401 to 418, commissioned in 1902, and were former horse trams.
  • No. 501 to 515, delivered in 1901 by  les Établissements Carde.
  • No. 516 to 520, delivered in 1901 by les Établissements Carde.
  • No. 600 to 619, commissioned in 1900, and were former horse trams.
  • No. 700, commissioned in 1900, a former horse tram.
  • No. 731 to 736, commissioned in 1911, and converted from former motor-tram cars No. 101 to 106.
  • No.801 to 812, (initially numbered 201 to 212), bought second-hand in 1903 from les Chemins de fer Nogentais.
  • No. 813 to 822, (initially numbered 213 to 222), delivered in 1905 by les Établissements Carde.
  • No. 901, commissioned in 1916, built by TNL workshopsworkshops.
  • No. 921, commissioned in 1927, built by TNL workshops.


1. Tramway de Nice et du Littoral, accessed 5th March 2018.

2. Route du bord de mer (Alpes-Maritimes);, accessed 5th March 2018.

3. The Sospel to Menton Tramway Revisited;

4. This term is a standard French term for a transfer of status for a company, a definition is provided on this link:, accessed 14th March 2018.

5. Tramway de Cannes;, accessed 14th March 2018, c.f. Trams in Cannes;, accessed 15th March 2018.

6. Magnan;, accessed 14th March 2018.

7., accessed 14th March 2018.

8. See for example: and

9. Transports en Commun de Nice TNL; accessed 13th March 2018.

10. Les tramways de Nice : avant l’électrification;—avant-l-electrification/31975770.html, accessed 13th March 2018.

11. Les tramways de Nice : avant l’électrification;—avant-l-electrification/31975770.html, accessed 13th March 2018; c.f., accessed 15th March 2018;, accessed 15th March 2018; and, accessed 15th March 2018.

12. Les tramways de Nice: de l’apogée au déclin;—de-l-apogee-au-declin/31975780.html.

13. The GS Tram Site: Nice/Cannes and Area, France and Monaco 1925;, accessed 15th March 2018.

14. Photographs and Postcards showing the trams of Menton can be found at, accessed 14th March 2018.

15. Trams in Nice;, accessed 15th March 2018.

16. André Mariage;é_Mariage, accessed on 15th March 2018.

Bullo Pill and the Forest of Dean Tramway

Bullo Pill, on the Severn near Newnham, originally a small tidal creek off the main river used for boat building, was developed by building a dock basin with lock gates, and wharfs for loading goods for shipment.[1] Coal and stone from the Forest could be loaded at the dock and exported on the Severn trows up or down the river. In addition, there was a flow of barges carrying coal across the river to Framilode and then along the Stroudwater Canal to Brimscombe, Stroud and Chalford. The name ‘Bullo Pill’ is unusual. ‘Pill’ is a local word meaning a tidal inlet. The Oxford English Dictionary[2] gives the etymology as Old English (Anglo Saxon) – but some internet sources state it to be Welsh or Irish.[3]

A private railway (a tramway/tramroad) was built from Bullo Pill via Soudley and Ruspidge to Churchway near Cinderford Bridge in 1807, a distance of nearly four and a half miles; when it was nearly complete, the Bullo Pill Railway Company applied for an Act of Parliament in order to extend the railway a further two miles to the summit of the hill above Churchway Engine, and to make branches. The Royal Assent to the Act was made on 10 June 1809.

The railway was of approximately 4 ft gauge, laid as a plateway, with rails of L-shaped section, spiked to stone blocks. Rails were supplied by the Ayleford Foundry, near Soudley; a branch line was constructed from the foundry. All traffic was horse-drawn, using privately owned four-wheeled wagons of an approved type, with an oak underframe supporting a hopper-shaped body, and with un-flanged cast-iron wheels. The line was single, with frequent passing loops.

By 5th May 1826, the Forest of Dean Railway Company had taken over the Bullo Pill Tramway. An Act of Parliament was passed to establish the Forest of Dean Railway Company. In some places the tramway was built over. In others, the railway took a different route.  In 1852, the Forest of Dean Railway was acquired by the South Wales Railway.

Details of The Forest of Dean Railway Company and its railway can be found on a variety of internet sites.[4] There were a series of branch-lines as far north as St. Annals to the east and Crump Meadow to the west.

On the Bullo Pill dockside, at SO 6907 0981, there is a pile of stone blocks, some with a single drilled hole. These may well be original tramroad blocks.[5]

The dock at Bullo Pill became inadequate for the level of traffic by the 1830s, so a wharf was built at Box Meadow.[6] The tramway, which is now a track, ran south from the dock at Bullo Pill to the wharf and can be see alongside the Severn estuary to the right of the Google Earth satellite image above. The watermarked map above is an excerpt from the 1881 1:2500 OS County Series and clearly shows the location of the wharf in relation to the Pill. The map is sourced from the website.[7] The old tramway is clearly visible at Bullo Pill and at the wharf and was still in use within the site. It is also seen travelling north towards Bullo Pill Station which is north of the railway junction.

From Bullo Pill the tramway ran west and crossed what is now the main A48 road at quite an angle and at grade. It passed a building now in private ownership which was formerly a public house and before that a tramway building. The route is visible as a curved track on the above map and satellite image to the West of the main railway line between Gloucester and Chepstow.

Beyond the A48, the tramway route is crossed by the later Forest of Dean Railway embankment.[8] The railway is also now abandoned, but its path and that of the tramway are approximately coterminous as they approach Haie Hill Tunnel, sometimes known as Bullo Pill Tunnel. Some images of the railway line and the enlarged tunnel required for it are shown below. Other images can be found on Flickr.[9]Interestingly the tunnel was, when built in 1810, the longest in the world! It was 1,083 yards long and remains the oldest tunnel ever to used by passenger carrying trains.[10]

From Bullo Pill, the distance to the entrance of Haie Hill Tunnel was approximately a mile.

The present (early 21st Century) state of the enlarged tunnel bore can be seen on the above photos which show, in order, the approach from Bullo Pill, a closer shot of the tunnel portal and then the northern portal.[10a] The children of Bullo Pill used the tunnel to reach their school at Soudley, having to time their walks so as not to meet any trains.

To reach the tunnel, the tramway needed shallower grades than the later railway and its route can be picked out on the plan above.[11] It took a more circuitous route than the later railway needing a loop to the north and then to the south side of the railway to allow it to gain enough height. The shallower grades permitted the horses to pull a reasonable number of wagons.

The following image is of the railway, rather than the tramway, and comes from a short post on by a former loco fireman, Bob Barnett.[12] It shows the approach to the tunnel while it was still in use.

The engineer for the tunnel construction was John Hodgekinson and the Contractor was Robert Tipping.[13] The Eastern portal, closest to Bullo Pill, stood at the end of a stonewalled cutting which is overgrown and obscured by vegetation. The portal has been partly bricked up, an opening has been left at the top to allow bats to enter and roost[14] and a low-level access hatch has been provided to allow human access. Inside, the bore is tidy and mostly dry (see the image below). The tunnel was enlarged for broad gauge by Isambard Kingdom Brunel[15] in The tunnel climbs at a steep rising gradient of 1:56 in the westward direction. It could take a train of empty wagons five minutes to pass through. Although mostly straight, a slight curve to the north is encountered at the west end.[16]

The masonry lining features an arched roof with vertical side walls into which generous refuges are provided at regular intervals, some with exposed rock at their rear. Signalling pulleys and cable hangers remain in situ on the south wall. Near its centre, a rare milepost remains.[17] A drain runs down the tunnel’s centre line – accessed via numerous small catchpits – and many weep holes have been cut into the lining, resulting in some significant accumulations of calcite on both walls. At the west portal, which is also bricked-up, a stream runs in a channel beneath the bore.

The Western portal[18] is near the village of Soudley but separated from it by another short tunnel – Bradley Hill Tunnel. Close to the Western portal of Haie Hill Tunnel a tramway branch ran south to the site of a forge/foundry at Bradley House.[19] The railway track is now a footpath.

From the tunnel portal the railway headed north-west across the Soudley Brook through Bradley Hill Tunnel to Soudley Crossing.[20]  “The tramroad circuitously headed north along the modern tarmac lane past Furnace Crossing to join the B4227 by the bridge at SO  6649  1041, thence following the modern road north then west past Camp Mill, now the Dean Forest Heritage Centre, to re-join the railway at Soudley Crossing,  SO  6610 1050.”[21]The satellite image above shows the area at the western portal of Haie Hill Tunnel, Bradley Hill Tunnel and at the western edge of the satellite image, the formation of the old railway emerging to the west of Bradley Hill Tunnel. The tramway followed what is now the road to the north of the hill running past the Dean Heritage Centre which is at the top of the image.

From this point, the railway track-bed and the road run in parallel, westwards towards the White Horse Inn. Just to the south of the railway is a track, known locally as ‘The Dram’. The pub is not shown on the 1881 Ordinance Survey map below but is at the site of the Old Quarry. The Dram still has tramway track shown on it in the OS Map below.At the White Horse Inn/Old Quarry the track-bed of the tramway appears to divert south from the railway. Its presumed route is shown as a red line on the next OS Map excerpt below from 1881.At the point where the tramroad heads sharply north, there was a short branch which crossed the river to serve Flindall Ironworks which were already disused at the time of the 1881 Ordnance Survey.

It is then assumed that the tramway formation is hidden under the railway formation travelling north from Upper Soudley towards Shakemantle and Perseverance Mines.This next extract (above) from the OS Map of 1881 shows these two mines as well as the short Blue Rock Tunnel (at the very bottom of the excerpt). This tunnel is shown in the photograph below that map – a picture taken from the cab of a pannier tank locomotive.[22] Blue Rock Tunnel was built for the railway, the tramway skirted the rocky promontory, following the course of the river and re-joined the railway track-bed immediately north of the Tunnel.

A few metres further north the main railway line curved to the West and a branch-line provided access to Shakemantle Mine. That line was built over the route of the tramway which passed close to the limekilns shown at the centre of the map above.

One source suggests that the tramway formation turned west and crossed the railway line close to the interchange with Quidchurch Colliery tramroad incline at SO 6551 1128.[23] However, as the next excerpt from the 1881 Ordnance Survery shows, there was clearly a tramway running north from Shakemantle Quarry and through the village of Ruspidge. It is possible that the route suggested by Youles[24] is actually a branch serving the Quidchurch Mine. Although the visible line on the 1881 map appears to be higher on the contours of the valley side than might have been feasible for the tramway mainline.

Youles seems to refer to this line as a private tramway.[25] If Youles is right, then we need to acknowledge an alternative route for the tramway which probably followed the railway formation. He says, “the Quidchurch interchange site is now thickly wooded, but the course of the railway siding which it shared with Perseverance Ironstone Mine, can still be seen, as can the earthwork remains of the interchange wharf. A GWR boundary marker situated between the siding and the railway, confirms that the siding was a private one. From here the tramroad incline ran south to cross the Soudley to Ruspidge road before climbing the steep slopes of Staple Edge Wood en-route for Quidchurch.”[26] The incline to Quidchurch headed towards the bald area shown on the bottom left of the satellite image above.

Youles goes on to say that the earthworks associated with the former Eastern United Colliery have obliterated all traces of the tramways in this area. The Eastern United Colliery was built over the site of the Staple-edge Brick Works and itself closed in 1959. All that is left in the early 21st Century are the colliery office and the power house. Eastern United was a drift colliery, dug into the side of the hill, but it did have a shaft. It was a ventilation shaft, Findall later known as Walmers shaft, hill on the hill above the colliery. The buildings are currently in use as a factory making dyes and colourants for paint.

On the map above, a tramway can be seen running north through Ruspidge. It is shown on the satellite image to the right as a tarmacked road which meets the main road north of the site of the Eastern United Colliery.

That ‘private’ tramway continued north of the main road to a junction with a tramway which ran East-West (crossing the line of the railway and serving Lightmoor Colliery to the West. This is illustrated in the next smaller map which shows Lightmoor Colliery in the West.Another tramway is shown serving a quarry adjacent to Cinderford Brook which connects to the East-West tramway. North of the branch to the Lightmoor Colliery, the tramroad formation and the railway formation converge alongside Cinderford Brook. The spoil heap from Eastern United Colliery buried the route of the Forest of Dean Tramroad. It appears (Figure 4)[27] that the route ran west from the interchange wharf, then turned north to rejoin the railway formation at the Eastern United site. In this case, the tramway ran parallel to both the ones already mentioned. The site of Eastern United Colliery is shown in the photo below. The railway formation overlies the tramway formation from this point to Cullamore Bridge.Cullamore Bridge (A) carried the tramroad from Lightmoor Colliery over the Cinderford Brook and the Forest of Dean Tramroad to a junction with the private Ruspidge to Shakemantle Tramroad. The Lightmoor Colliery Tramroad formation can still be accessed on foot. We have already noted the tramroad serving the quarry (C). The tramway link into Lightmoor (B) ascends the hillside through a cutting, on the sides of which are the remains of bridge abutments; the bridge led to the quarry’s spoil heap on the other side of the tramroad. After a few more metres, a path trails off to the south, following the line of another tramroad to Staple Edge Quarry. The Lightmoor track continues west to the colliery site, now an open-cast operation, where stands a large derelict and roofless building.[28]

About 200 metres north of Cullamore, near the foot of the modern Railway Road, the private Ruspidge – Shakemantle tramroad trailed in. From the junction it ran almost due south, gradually diverging from the mainline, and climbing, to cross the Ruspidge Road at SO 6500 1169 where the Bible Christian Chapel (now a studio) stands. The first part of this section remains as a track and private drive, but from the chapel it continues, still climbing, as Tramway Road, to end at SO 6525 1133 high on the hillside overlooking the site of Shakemantle iron mine and adjacent to the extensive abandoned quarry workings.[29]

From the junction near Cullamore the mainline tramroad diverged from the railway, following the modern lower Railway Road, crossing the B4226 and reaching Valley Road via the passage between the Bridge Inn and the adjoining building. From here to its terminus at Churchway, few traces of the mainline tramroad remain, although much of the route can be followed using later roads and a few tracks, as far as the site of the Cinderford Ironworks.

The next map below shows the Ironworks. The 1881 Ordnance Survey shows much of the detail of the tramway which enters centre right at the bottom of the map and runs north past a series of cottages before serving the Ironworks.

On the 1881 Map, the Forest of Dean Branch (standard gauge) Line can be seen entering the map on the bottom left. Two lines are present, the most Westerly is the main line and the branch (to the East of the main line) serves the Ironworks and splits to provide separate access to the Works and its spoil heap. The main line of the Forest of Dean Branch leaves the map on the top right.

The Buckshaft Branch Tramway 1881 Ordnance Survey (Not to Scale).

Just north of Cinderford Iron Works, the Buckshaft and St. Annals branch tramroads diverged, and these also can be followed for much of the way, but as routes only, physical traces being virtually nonexistent. The 1881 Survey shows the Buckshaft line clearly on the maps immediately below.




















The satellite image from the early 21st Century shows the line of the Buckshaft branch among all the modern housing and industry.

The Annals Branch Tramway 1881 Ordnance Survey (Not to Scale).

The St. Annals branch crossed Cinderford Lower High Street at SO 6549 1457 and followed Albion Road to enter Haywood Plantation. At the road’s end, three paths are seen. The centre one follows the branch route. It slopes up quite steeply to SO 6564 1500, where it curves sharply south west through 160 degrees to reach the edge of the plantation at Causeway Road, which it follows to the mine site, the last few hundred metres being an overgrown track to the south of, and parallel to, the road.[30]

The St. Annals tramway appears as one of a myriad of different tramways north of Cinderford Ironworks on the 1881 Survey. It leaves the map of the Buckshaft Branch below at the top of the first panel of the maps below above ‘The Cottage’.

It travels just to the East of North in a straight line for some distance, past Bilson Gas Works and a Leather Works before deviating North-North-East close to Spero Colliery and being joined by another tramroad from the West. The St. Annals tramway continues North-North-East to run trough a small complex of sidings close to Seven Stars Inn which served Haywood Colliery. After this the tramway turned northwards for a short distance before swinging sharply round to a South-Easterly direction to head for St. Annals Ironstone Mine which was close to Latimore’s Lodge.

The Annals Branch Tramroad (A) sustained a short branch of its own which accessed Haywood Level (B) – see Figure 5 above.

Returning now to Cinderford and Forestvale Ironworks, three significant tramway routes still have to be explored.

We will leave these for a future blog.


[1], accessed 11th March 2018.

[2] Shorter Oxford English Dictionary: Pill [OE pyll, var of pull, pul pool, creek] A local name on both sides of the Bristol Channel, in Cornwall etc., for a tidal creek on the coast, or a pool in a creek etc.

[3], accessed 11th March 2018.

[4] For example:, accessed on 11th March 2018,, accessed 10th March 2018.

[5], accessed 23rd February 2018; R. J. Morris, The Forest of Dean Tramroad, Coleford, 1997.

[6] R. J. Morris, The Forest of Dean Tramroad, Coleford, 1997, p16.

[7], accessed 11th March 2018.

[8], accessed 11th March 2018.

[9], accessed 11th March 2018.

[10], accessed on 11th March 2018; Humphrey Household, Gloucestershire Railways in the Twenties. Alan Sutton Publishing Limited, Gloucester, 1984; Rex Christiansen, A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain: Volume 13: Thames and Severn, David & Charles, Newton Abbot, 1981; Colin G. Maggs, The Branch Lines of Gloucestershire, Amberley Publishing, Stroud, 2009.

[10a], accessed 9th March 2018.

[11], accessed 11th March 2018.

[12], accessed 10th March 2018.

[13], accessed 11th March 2018.

[14], accessed 11th March 2018.

[15], accessed 12th March 2018.

[16], accessed 11th March 2018.

[17], accessed 11th March 2018.

[18] SO  6649  1041

[19] Ayleford Forge (Morris op.cit., p.16); Bradley Foundry.

[20] Tony Youles, Tramroad Remains in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire Society for Industrial Archaeology Journal, 2000, p20.

[21] Ibid., p20.

[22], accessed 10th March 2018.

[23] Tony Youles, Tramroad Remains in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire Society for Industrial Archaeology Journal, 2000, p20.

[24] Ibid., p20.

[25] Ibid., p21.

[26] Ibid., p20.

[27] Tony Youles, Tramroad Remains in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire Society for Industrial Archaeology Journal, 2000, p25.

[28] Tony Youles, Tramroad Remains in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire Society for Industrial Archaeology Journal, 2000, p21.

[29] Youles, op. cit., p21, comments: Morris implies that the tramroad line descending via Tramway Road was the mainline, rather than the private branch recorded by the Sites and Monuments Record (SMR) department of Gloucestershire County Council. See the captions to plates 6 and 7 in his book, and the Ruspidge paragraph on page 48. This route seems unlikely, since the mainline would have to climb from near the north portal of Bluerock tunnel, just above the level of the Cinderford Brook, to high on the hillside above (as shown in Morris’s plate 6 upper left) only to take the long descent to regain the level of the brook just north of Cullamore. The route shown on the SMR map, which follows the valley floor, is taken from an 1856 Board of Guardians map which shows the then recently completed railway and vestigial sections of the mainline tramroad not directly overbuilt by the railway, including that part later overlaid by the railway’s Shakemantle siding. Also shown is the private tramroad from near Cullamore Bridge, running south via Tramway Road to its terminus on the hillside high above Shakemantle, the railway and the mainline of the Forest of Dean tramroad.

[30] Tony Youles, Tramroad Remains in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire Society for Industrial Archaeology Journal, 2000, p22-29.


The Sheffield, Ashton-under-Lyne and Manchester Railway – 3

The Sheffield, Ashton-Under-Lyne and Manchester Railway[1] was opened in stages between 1841 and 1845 between Sheffield and Manchester via Ashton-Under-Lyne.

The company was formed in 1835 and it appointed Charles Vignoles as its engineer.[2] A route was proposed which required a 2 mile long tunnel and passed through Woodhead and Penistone. Vignoles and Joseph Locke[3] were asked to make independent surveys and in October met to reconcile any differences. Their meeting resulted in the decision to build a longer tunnel so as to lessen the gradients needed on the line.

The line obtained its Act of Incorporation in Parliament in 1837 and work on the tunnel started. Vignoles arranged for the boring of a series of vertical shafts followed by a horizontal driftway along the line of the first bore. Enough land was purchased for two tunnels but it was only intended to build one at first.

A ceremony was held on 1st October 1838 at the west end of the tunnel at which ground was disturbed for the first time. In 1839 work was progressing well with Thomas Brassey as contractor. However Vignoles was not relating well to the company’s board and he resigned. Joseph Locke agreed to act in a consultative capacity if the Board would appoint resident engineers for the day to day supervision of the work.

In 1841 Locke reported that the tunnel would probably cost £207,000, about twice the original estimate, because the amount of water encountered required the purchase of more powerful pumps. By this time a length of the line was open for business from Godley to a temporary Manchester terminus at Travis Street.

In 1842, Manchester Store Street (now Piccadilly) was brought into use and at the eastern end the line had linked to Broadbottom and Glossop.

By 1844, the western end of the Woodhead tunnel had been reached.

In 1845 the eastern section of the line in Yorkshire was opened between Dunford Bridge and Sheffield. The tunnel was finally ready for inspection in December 1845 and after it was approved the formal opening of the line took place on 22nd December that year.

Besides Woodhead, there were short tunnels at Audenshaw Road, Hattersley (two), Thurgoland and Bridgehouses. Among the bridges the two most notable were the Etherow Viaduct and the Dinting Vale Viaduct, the latter with five central and eleven approach arches. The line initially terminated at a temporary station at Bridgehouses until Sheffield Victoria was built in 1851.Dinting Vale Viaduct – at the top, the original viaduct, at the bottom, the later replacement.

While the line was being built, the directors were looking at ways to extend it. They had hoped to connect to the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, but their approach to the board of that line was rejected. Eventually they secured a relationship with the London and Birmingham Railway which enabled the Manchester, South Junction and Altrincham Railway to be put before Parliament in 1845. That line was not completed for some years.

The Ashton to Stalybridge branch which had been part if the original scheme was completed in 1845. And in the same year a branch was built to Glossop itself, which needed no Act, since it was financed by the Duke of Norfolk and ran over his land, the original Glossop station was renamed Dinting.

In 1844 representatives of the proposed Sheffield and Lincolnshire Junction Railway made plans for a line from Sheffield to Gainsborough. Plans were also made for the Barnsley Junction Railway to connect Oxspring with Royston on the North Midland Railway.

The directors of the Sheffield, Ashton-under-Lyne and Manchester Railway realised that expansion was best achieved by amalgamating with other lines, after the pattern being set by the Midland under George Hudson.

In 1845, they gained shareholders approval for the Manchester, South Junction and Altrincham Railway,[4] the Sheffield and Lincolnshire Junction Railway,[5] and also the proposed Barnsley Junction Railway.[6] They would also lease the Huddersfield and Manchester Railway and Canal Company.[7]

The board also contemplated:

• a line from Dukinfield to New Mills connecting with the Manchester and Birmingham Railway (
• an extension of the Barnsley Junction to Pontefract joining the Wakefield, Pontefract and Goole Railway.
• The Huddersfield and Sheffield Junction Railway.

In September 1845 agreement was reached in a meeting in Normanton, agreement was reached to amalgamate with the Sheffield and Lincolnshire Junction Railway and the Great Grimsby and Sheffield Railway. Further amalgamations included the Grimsby Docks Company Railway and an attempt to take over the East Lincolnshire Railway which was planned between Grimsby and Lincoln, although ultimately that was taken over by the Great Northern.

The merger received royal assent in July 1846 and the combined company was formed at the beginning of 1847. The line became the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway.[8]



1.,_Ashton-under-Lyne_and_Manchester_Railway, accessed 9th March 2018.

2., accessed 10th March 2018.

3., accessed 10th March 2018.


5., accessed 10th March 2018.

6., accessed 10th March 2018.

7., accessed 10th March 2018.

8.,_Sheffield_and_Lincolnshire_Railway, accessed 10th March 2018.

Rolling Stock on the Central Var Line (Chemins de Fer de Provence 54)

The final post in this series about the Central Var Metre-Gauge Line between Nice and Meyrargues. This covers the rolling stock used on the line.

For information about steam and diesel traction on the line please see the following two links:

And for a journey along the line please go to the french forum ‘Passions Metrique et Etroite’ and picking up the trail with my post dated 3rd February 2018:

The rolling stock used on the Central Var line was very similar to that used on the coastal line, Le Macaron. In producing the details of rolling stock on that line, photographs from the wider network were used.

Some images from that post are repeated here. The post about rolling stock on the Toulon to Saint Raphael line can be found on this link:

Coaches on the Chemin de Fer du Sud – Central Var Line

Very little of the rolling stock from the line entered into preservation, but a few items did. The following photos from the 21st Century provide good details for those who are interested.

One of 2 authentic coaches from Le Chemins de Fer du Sud de la France preserved today. They are used with the steam train managed by the GECP on the Puget-Théniers-Annot route. They are 2nd class bogie coaches, with wooden bodywork, built by Desouches and David (factory in Pantin) in 1892. They were numbered B74 and B77 by the Chemins de Fer du Sud and were renumbered B505 and B508 at the creation of Les Chemins de Fer de Provence in 1925. They are currently in the traditional colours for coaches on the network – a brown / red colour known as Brown-Van Dyck, with the window surropunds and roof in black. The symbol CP of the Railways of Provence o-is on the panel side of the coach together with the Class shown in Roman numerals (Collection: GECP).[1][5]

Coach AB 506 constructed by Desouches & David, which served originally on Les Chemins de Fer du Sud before being transferred elsewhere. It is now part of the stock of the Vivarais Railway (CFV) – No coaches had a toilets! Only stops in stations allowed passengers to relieve themselves (Photograph: Pierre Virot, 2003).[1][5]

B-505 is 12.3 m (40.35 ft), its height 3.25 m (10.66 ft), its weight 10.5 t. The seating capacity is 52 passengers. During WWI it was requisitioned for use by the French Army. In June 1915, it was sent to Chemins de Fer de la Camargue (Camargue Railway), and used to transport workers to and from the gunpowder factory in Salin-de-Giraud (near Arles, NW of Marseille). In March the following year it left Camargue and was sent to the war zone near Verdon, to the 10ème Section des Chemins de fer de Campagne, a French military railway unit. It was used for military transport on the narrow gauge line “Le Meusien” (owned by Compagnie Meusienne de Chemins de Fer) in the French department of Meuse. [1][5]

After the war, it was returned to SF on April 12, 1919. However, the years of military service had left it in a poor condition. It took two years to get it back to operational condition, on 2nd April, 1921. It then served on the network for another 30 years or so. When the use of steam engines ceased after WWII, it escaped being scrapped. It was instead reordered to be used as a service vehicle for railway line maintenance. For this purpose, the interior was gutted to make space for various tools and supplies. Even a sliding door was installed on its side to allow loading of bulky items. It served in this capacity for about a decade, until it was retired during the second part of the 1960s.

With the advent of the preservation movement, B505 was rescued by the GECP and put into service behind its steam engines in Provence. B508 was added to it and restored.

Further restoration work is ongoing at the Puget-Thenier workshops. Pictures follow:Three coaches shown in different states of repair.

A number of modellers have sought to reproduce these coaches, usually in HOm scale.[2]

Photo Aubertrain – Model of a 2nd class coach, Desouches & David du Sud France – At the beginning of the operation, the car bodies were made of teak wood simply painted with the car number, the class indication in figures Romans and the monogram of South France, SF painted in yellow.

Model of a mixed coach of 1st and 2nd class Desouches & David of South France. Photo AuberTrain

Photo Aubertrain – Model of a mixed car of 1st and 2nd class Desouches & David of South France.

Photo Aubertrain – Interior of a passenger car Desouches & David du Sud France

Photo Aubertrain – Model in Om of a mixed car of 1st and 2nd class Desouches & David with the new colors set up on the South France from 1898: for the box: brown-red Van Dyck and black for the roof.

Bogie coaches from the series AB-501 to 508 made by Desouches and David. in HOm (Photo: Metrique43).

Paint schemes are shown below. These are provided by a kit building firm, AuberTrain. [2]


Wagons on the Chemin de Fer du Sud – Central Var Line

An early box van is being unloaded at Saint-Jeannet Station, another wagon is just visible on the right of the picture, and a luggage trolley can be seen sitting on its own in front of the station building. The next image was taken at Colomars Station at La Manda and was presumably intended to be a record of the Renault autorail in the station. It does, however, give us sight of both some box vans and some open wagons at the station.We have seen the next image before, it shows Vence station after the advent of the tramway and allows us to see a number of wagons. There is a goods train passing through the station which is made up primarily of box vans and a similar box van sitting in the goods lane. To the far right of the picture a TAM tramway box van can just be picked out and a flat tramway wagon sits just to the right of the wagon turntable.Both the tramway and the main line were of the same track gauge which meant that it was possible to transfer wagons from the tramway onto the mainline, however, the loading gauge was very different. That fact is illustrated by the pictures of models of wagons below, and particularly in the first image which shows two open wagons which run on metre-gauge track but which clearly have different loading gauges, the narrower wagon being one used on the TAM Tramways. (These pictures were taken by ‘Abran’ on the forum Passions Metrique et Etroite and are used with permission.) [16] The image immediately above is taken at Flayosc, probably at about the turn if the 20th Century. Just visible in the grainy image is the tender of a Class A or Class B 0-6-0 locomotive. It is also just possible to make out the expansion tanks in front of the loco cab. The locomotive is in charge of a mixed goods consisting of box wagons and open wagons.Another mixed train at Flaysoc in the charge of A Class A 0-6-0 tender locomotive with a variety of box vans and open wagons.A train of mixed wagons at Fayence awaiting the next scheduled mixed goods.Again at Fayence, a mixed goods and passenger train sits alongside two box vans.The image above shows a mixed passenger and goods train awaits departure at Sallernes at around the turn of the 20th Century, it includes two short-wheelbase carriages a box wagon and a series of different open wagons.At Callas, four wagons await the arrival of the next goods train, three box vans and a heavily loaded and tarpaulined open wagon.

This first image is of a covered wagon probably built in 1912 and in use on the Central Var line. The next is of Rolling Crane No. 2 (1891) and what looks like the frame of a box wagon of the Central Var line of around 1888.

2-axle wagon as used by Les Chemins de Fer du Sud de la France (Photo: Clive Lamming). It compares well with the photos above.

A series of photographs culled from the forum showing older wagons from the network which are still in use, renovated or in sidings waiting for work to be undertaken.[3]

The following images show some models made of the goods wagons on Les Chemins de Fer de Provence.[2]G 20x – Buire 1911

The Aubertain website has details of the paint schemes used on these wagons.[2]


Various Manufacturers supplied wagons to the Central Var line and the wider network of Les Chemins de Fer du Sud de La France, these included:

Chantiers de La Buire[4]

The Chantiers de La Buire was founded in 1847 in Lyon , in the district of Buyre or la Buire to build railway equipment [11] . The sites are in the suburb of Guillotière , on the left bank of the Rhone [12] near the castle of Buire [13] , whose estate had been sold to various owners.

The company was founded by the brothers Frossard Saugy, from the Canton of Vaud in Switzerland, who founded the workshops of Jules Frossard & Cie [14] by partnering with a local mechanical engineer, Zacharie Rouveure [15] .

In 1866, the brothers Félix and Lucien Mangini bought the company with the help of Credit Lyonnais and founded the Société anonyme des Chantiers de la Buire. Augustin Seguin (1841-1904), their brother-in-law ran the business.

In 1877, Chantiers de la Buire were acquired by the Compagnie des Fonderies and Forges de l’Horme and became Chantiers de l’Horme and La Buire.

The workshops manufactured wagons (8 per day in 1856), all railway rolling stock (except locomotives) and parts for navigation (paddle wheel axles), industrial equipment.[4]

De Dietrich Ferroviaire[6]

De Dietrich Ferroviaire was the designation of the Dietrich family ‘s railway rolling stock factory in Reichshoffen , Alsace , which is now part of Alstom under the name Alstom DDF .

De Dietrich Ferroviaire supplied, among other things, the cars of the Enterprise train connecting Dublin and Belfast in Ireland . It was responsible for a significant number of wagons and coaches and supplied a number of these for the metre-gauge railways in Provence.

De Dietrich Ferroviaire was a partner of Linke-Hoffmann-Busch of Salzgitter in Germany for the joint development of a diesel self propelled for the French national railways (SNCF) and Deutsche Bahn ; the result is known in France as X 73500 and X 73900 , also nicknamed the Whale, and at the DB as Serie 641.

In 1995, De Dietrich Ferroviaire was bought by Alstom and is known since as Alstom DDF or simply by the place name Reichshoffen.


The Lorraine Company derived from the companies of Dietrich and Cie de Lunéville was better known under the name of Lorraine-Dietrich. It constructed cars, railway rolling stock, heavy equipment and aircraft engines. The company was born as a result of the 1871 Frankfurt Treaty, annexed Alsace-Moselle to the German Empire. In 1879, in order to be able to continue his deliveries to the French railway companies, Eugene de Dietrich (1844-1918) founded a factory west of the new border, in Lunévillein Lorraine. Originally, these workshops were only required to assemble carriages. In 1897, in view of the importance of this workshop, the creation of a distinct society, subject to French legislation, was decided; it was renamed “Société de Dietrich et Compagnie de Luneville”. The management of the company was provided by Baron Eugène de Dietrich, assisted from 1890 by his nephews Adrien de Turckheim , then a young dynamic and enterprising engineer, and Eugène de Turckheim.

In 1905 , Dietrich’s family withdrew from the firm and on March 4, 1905, the Luneville Company was transformed into a public limited company with a capital of 5 million francs with no ties to its first founders. It became known under the name of Lorraine-Dietrich. Its head office was located in Paris at 8, Boulevard Malesherbes .

The Company adopted as its logo the Cross of Lorraine , gold on blue background. Its area of work, according to its corporate objectives was the  “construction of wagons, automobiles and all mechanical objects for the transport industry by automobile and other means”.

In 1907, a second factory was created, this time in the Paris region, in Argenteuil . This factory specialized in the manufacture of passenger cars, the “Lorraine” 3 . The Lunéville plant continued to focus on the production of railway equipment, but also of heavy commercial vehicles and racing cars ; It had a workshop specialized in the construction of prototypes intended to compete in car rallies and endurance races.

Throughout the first half of the 20th Century, the Luneville factory continued to specialize in equipment for the railways.

Lorraine-Dietrich was taken over by Gnome and Rhône in 1941.

Hanquet-Aufort et Compagnie à Vierzon

I have been unable to find any significant details about this firm. Evidence of them supplying a series of different tramways around France can be found on various websites.

Compagnie des Fonderies and Forges de l’Horme

The Company was formed in Lyon in 1847[8] Its forges were located in the town of Saint-Julien-en-Jarez (Loire) in the valley of Gier. The company grew out of an association between Augustin Girardet and Jacques-Marie Ardaillon.[9] The company owned the iron mines of Saint-Chamond and Veyras. 

In 1877, the Company was reformed after taking over the Chantiers de La Buire and became Les Établissements de l’Horme et La Buire and in 1895 the company was put in liquidation and disappeared replaced by the Société Nouvelle des Établissements de l’Horme et de la Buire.

Société Nouvelle des Établissements de l’Horme et de la Buire

La Société nouvelle des Établissements de l’Horme et de la Buire was created in 1895 in Lyon at maitre Thomasset on 18th June 1895. It succeeded the Company of Foundries and Forges de l’Horme which had been put in liquidation on 27th December 1894. The headquarters of the company was in Lyon , Rue Victor Hugo in the second arrondissement. In 1899, the electrical construction department was sold to the Swiss firm Alioth, which moved to the Lyon site and took the name of Alioth-Buire.In 1899, the electrical construction department was sold to the Swiss firm Alioth, which moved to the Lyon site and took the name of Alioth-Buire.

In 1905, a subsidiary was created to develop the car manufacturing sector: the Société des Automobiles de laBuire

In 1909, the company went bankrupt and became Société Horme et Buire

Société Horme and Buire

The Societe Horme et Buire was created in 1909 to replace the Société Nouvelle des Establishments Horme and Buire founded in 1895 and in financial difficulties. It disappeared in 1929 and the site was then occupied by Les Acieries due Nord.

Pechot-Magnard and Decauville

In the 1870s, the Decauville family, exploited a property of 700 hectares of sugar beet land and a boiler-making workshop in Petit-Bourg (in the commune of Evry), where they manufactured equipment for refineries and distilleries (boilers, tanks, steam engines). Paul Decauville invented a system composed of modular track which could be handled by two men, and small carts. This track system proved very popular and the range was widened to include track widths from 0.40 m to 0.60 m. This portable railway enjoyed great success in a variety of different farming and industrial locations (beet, cereal and wine, mining, quarrying and forestry). The factory at Petit-Bourg grew from 35 workers in 1876 to 1,600 in 1916. 7 factories were established in the provinces and abroad, in Italy and Spain.

As the First World War approached this flexible, easily moved, track became very important in supplying the troops in the trenches. The 0.60 m track became standard and the company supplied locomotives and wagons for the war effort.[10]

The Company’s contribution to the war was significant. Details can be found in ‘Les Petits Trains de La Grande Guerre: La voie de 0,60 m militaire en 1914-1918’ (les-petits-trains-de-la-grande-guerre.pdf).[10]   The pictures below show some of the rolling stock and locomotives produced by the group on companies and factories for the war effort.


  1. Roland Le Corff;, accessed on 13th December 2017.
  2. AuberTrain;, accessed on 25th January 2018.
  3. Les Chemins de Fer de Provence; Les Forums de Passions Métrique et Etroite;, accessed on 25th January 2018.
  4. Chantiers de La Buire;, accessed on 4th March 2018.
  5. Aubertrains;,, and, accessed on 2nd March 2018.
  6. De Dietrich Ferroviaire;, accessed on 3rd March 2018.
  7. Lorraine-Dietriche;, accessed 4th March 2018.
  8. Compagnie des Fonderies and Forges de l’Horme;, accessed on 5th March 2018.
  9.’Horme&f=false, accessed 5th March 2018.
  10. Les Petits Trains de La Grande Guerre: La voie de 0,60 m militaire en 1914-1918;, accessed on 6th March 2018.
  11. Site Electronic Records of the General Inventory of Cultural Heritage in Rhône-Alpes: The railway equipment factory Establishments in Horme and Buire then car plant Chantiers the current theater of Buire Alphodèles, accessed on 18th July 2012.
  12. Site Christian Palluy, Neighborhoods Lyon – the suburb of Guillotière -1, accessed on 18th  July 2012.
  13. on 18th July 2012.
  14. Site Encyclo.43: The Buire, accessed on 18th July 2012.
  15. Pierre Cayez, jacquard and blast furnaces to the origins of the Lyon industry, University Presses Lyon, 1978, p.  316, accessed on 18th July 2012.
  16. Les Chemins de Fer de Provence; Les Forums de Passions Métrique et Etroite;, accessed on 5th April 2018.

Locomotives and Rolling Stock on the Central Var Line (Chemins de Fer de Provence 52)

This post seeks to bring together as much information as possible about the motive power on Les Chemins de Fer du Sud de la France Central Var Metre Gauge Line after the demise of steam traction. There is inevitably less information available about this short era on the line as the line closed fully in early 1950 and a significant segment between La Manda and Tanner on was closed with effect from August 1944 after major damage was inflicted on a number of viaducts along the line.

For information about steam traction on the line, please follow this link:

And for details of rolling stock, please follow this link:…r-de-provence-54

A study of the whole line is available following links on the french forum ‘Passions Metrique et Etroite’ and picking up the trail with my post dated 3rd February 2018:

Diesel/Electric Traction on the Central Var Metre-Gauge Line

Renault ABH Autorails

Renault produced this Autorail and others similar to it from 1935 onwards.  The first batch of the railcars was of type ABH1 and they were numbered ZZ-1 to ZZ-6. The picture below shows the first of these railcars on the production line – © SHGR.

The 1st series of these autorails were 265hp, their maximum speed depended on the gear ratios. They were 20.60 metres long over the buffers. The bogie wheel base was 13.60 metres with bogie axles 2.20 metres apart. They had a seating capacity of 46. Their empty weight was 26.80 tonnes and fully loaded, 32.15 tonnes.

The second series were released from 1936 onwards, they were 300hp and their maximum speed was similarly dependent on gear ratios. They were slightly larger, the length over the buffers was 20.69 metres. The bogie wheel base was 13.69 metres with bogie axles 2.20 metres apart. They had a seating capacity of 44. Their empty weight was 26.80 tonnes and fully loaded, 32.15 tonnes.

The picture below shows Renault ABH5 railcar No. ZZ-12 with a wooden wagon as a trailer. The picture was taken in 1948 at the western terminus of the Central Var line at Meyrargues. This autorail came from second series of Renault autorails, of Class ABH5. It was delivered in 1942 numbered ZZ-7 to ZZ-12. Only one, ZZ-10, of these remains in existence, although no longer in general service. Similar, but later, Renault railcars of class ABH8 are still part of the roster on the Chemin de Fer de Provence, although not in use on the line.

Draguignan shed with two Renault ABH railcars, probably taken post war. (Photograph: Pierre Virot, 2003).[1]

This image shows ABH1 NO. ZZ-22 (former ZZ-2) at Nice in the Year 2000  – © Ian Boyle.

This is ZZ-6 stored in the disused metre-gauge station at Digne, in February 2003 – © Ian Boyle

The following video shows one of these Renault ABH autorails at work on the Nice to Digne line in the late 1970s.

The picture below is F.A.C.S. postcard 507 of a Renault ABH5 autorail, with original window design. X.320, above is a Renault type ABH5 railcar, built in 1936, and delivered in 1942, with some difficulty because of war, and equipped with a gasifier. Soon after, this railcar became isolated on the Central Var line at Draguignan. It was not until after the war that it was used in regular service. After the closure in 1950 of the line between Tanneron and Meyrargues this railcar was transfereed to the Nice to Digne line. It was completely modernized in 1985, and was kept as a reserve at Digne until the early 2000s. It was used later for maintenance trains for a few years beforevitvwas stored at the MPD at Digne. At the time this picture was taken it was awaiting a major overhaul. This picture was taken by ‘La bête de Calvi’ and loaded onto the Passions Metrique et Etroite Forum in April 2013.

This next photos come from the same source – ‘La bête de Calvi’ and loaded onto the Passions Metrique et Etroite Forum in April 2013. The photographs are of ZZ-22 (ZZ-2) standing on the central lane of the Digne depot. It had been standing in this location for a few years at the time the pictures was taken in 2013. The photographer commented that the autorail remained in working condition, the engine is turned occasionally and it is moved around the depot yard sporadically.[2]

The first of the following pictures shows the modernized interior of ZZ-22. Some of the seats are removable and can be replaced by tables on excursion trains.

The next photograph below shows a Renault ABH railcar and Billard trailer in the snow at Annot station on the Nice to Digne line in 1987 (Pierre Boyer Collection).Two shots of an accident between a Renault autorail and a Ford panel van in 1952 And finally a group of 4 Renault ABH railcars at the Nice terminus followed by a line-up of  6 in a pristine condition also at Nice.

The separation of the Central Var line from the Nice to Digne line occurred in 1944 at the time of the Allied invasion. We know that at least one of the Renault ABH Autorails was trapped on the Central Var and served there until the line closed. I have not been able to find many photographs of diesel traction on the Central Var from the date in the 1930s when these autorails were introduced until 1950 and the closure of the line.

I’d be really grateful if others could point me to more images of diesel traction on the Central Var line rather than the Nice-Digne line.


  1. José Banaudo, Le train des Pignes; éditions du cabri.
  2. La bête de Calvi;