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Friday, 11 May 2012

The Great Orme Tramway

 In a nutshell

Gauge: 3'6"

Length:  Lower section - 872 yd.
               Upper section - 827 yd.

Opened:  8th July 1903



View Larger Map
Victoria Station,
Church Walks,
LL30 2NB 
Tel. 01492 577877


Date of visit: 11 May 2012


Key Facts

  • Great Britain's only remaining cable operated street tramway.
  • One of only three surviving in the world.
  •  Only one fatal accident in its history in 1932 when a car became detached from the cable, derailed and the driver and a 12 year old girl died.
  • The line is divided into two sections with the winch house situated between the lower and upper sections
  • The lower section climbs 400 feet with a maximum grade of 1:3.6. The upper section climbs 150 feet with a maximum gradient of 1:10.3.


My impressions

Despite having visited Llandudno many times I had never ridden on the tram. I must admit that I had not really considered the tramway to be a 'proper' railway and therefore paid very little attention to it. However, having now travelled on the tramway and explored the mechanics of its traction system, I am now very impressed. It was a delightful experience.

After buying my ticket, I boarded the tram at the lower (Victoria) station:

The lower section of the tramway winds its way up the centre of a very narrow street (Old Road) ......

 .... before crossing a traffic light controlled junction with Ty Gwyn Road

and then passing the descending tram at the half way point of the lower section.

Then climbing up the next part of the lower section until......

.... the Half Way station was reached where we detrained ......

....and walked through the winding-house

where there is a display of information and viewing windows to see the electric-powered winches.

We then boarded the upper tram......

........ before arriving at the Summit Station (by which time it was raining).

After visiting the souvenir shop, I boarded the next tram .......

 ..... and descended (now in glorious sunshine) .......

 .......... to the Half Way Station where I examined the cable system.

I decided to walk the rest of the way down and take a few pictures.

I was particularly interested in how the cable was guided through the channel down the centre of each track -

  particularly how the curves were catered-for with a series of large pulley wheels.

and also how the passing-loop was organised.

It also provided me with an opportunity to record some video.

Overall, I would certainly recommend a visit to The Great Orme Tramway. There is plenty to see which is well presented for its intended audience. My suggestion would be to buy a single ticket to travel up the tramway and then walk back down to get a lineside view.


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