One hundred years ago next Saturday (July 7, 1917), Sheppey gained the dubious distinction of becoming the first place in Britain to lose its electric trams.
The service was opened in April, 1903, by the Sheerness and District Electric Power and Traction Company and boasted eight double-deck open-top trams, each seating 22 passengers downstairs and 27 upstairs.
For the first time in Britain, the Sheerness trams collected electricity from overhead wires using Siemens “bow collectors” as used on the Continent.
Other British trams used trolley wheels running on the wire.
The Siemens system had a strong spring (visible above) pressing an arc-shaped metal bar against the underside of the wires. It was supposed to make the system more flexible.
The two-and-a-half miles of track embedded in the road began at the pier in Blue Town. At Sheerness clock tower, the track split in two.
One arm went along the Broadway and Marine Parade to Cheyney Rock. The other arm went along Halfway Road to Sheerness East.
Hopes of extending the service to Halfway Houses and subsequently to Minster and Queenborough were dashed when the Sheppey Light Railway refused permission for the tram lines to cross its tracks at Sheerness East.
It was the beginning of the end.
As early as 1904 there had been complaints about the condition of the tracks.
Mr Cole, the editor of the Sheerness Times, wrote that flints between the metal rails had led to derailments.
Indeed, one tram came off the tracks and smashed into 220 High Street near the junction with Invicta Road.
In their 14 years of operation, the Sheerness trams rarely made a profit.
The limited size of the system, the introduction of bus services in 1913 and the problem of faulty equipment all sounded the death knell.
The final straw came with the outbreak of the First World War. It made it impossible for the
operator to get spare parts from the German maker of the equipment.
Unlike the Sheppey Light Railway, which ran from August 1901, to December 2, 1950, and the remains of which can still be seen between Queenborough and Leysdown, little remains of the Sheerness tram system.
The only evidence are black and white photographs like these and the former Maidstone and District Sheerness East bus garage which is now home to the Chainsaw Discount Warehouse in Power Station Road.
It is believed the building still includes parts of the original tram depot.