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Thursday, 27 November 2014

The Constitution Hill Tramway

With no connection - either physically or commercially - to the Swansea tramway network, this short 3ft 6ins gauge cable tramway ran up the steep Constitution Hill to Mount Pleasant between 27 August 1898 and 1902.

The line was operated by The Swansea Constitution Hill Incline Tramway Company. It climbed Constitution Hill between the lower terminus at St. George Street/Hannover Street and the upper terminus at Terrace Road. There was an average gradient of 1 in 5 with a maximum of 1 in 3.5. The total elevation was 185 ft.

Two counterbalanced cars built by the Brush Electrical Engineering Company were fixed to the steel cable, guided by pulleys in a conduit. At the top of the hill the winding house contained twoTangye Gas Engines. The funicular used overhead wires for signalling purposes only.

In 2005 Constitution Hill was restored to a pseudo 'Victorian' condition with an investment of £764,000 including the replacement of pavements and the roadway as well as the introduction of new lighting, signposts and handrails cast in Victorian style. 

The line was not a success due to low receipts and the high running costs of two crew on each tram plus the winding house staff. The line closed for traffic in early 1902 and in 1903 was offered for sale as a whole, but had no takers. The track was then taken up, the assets were sold and the company was wound up in 1905.

This picture shows the hill on 23rd January 2005; regrettably, reinstatement of the tramway didn't form part of the restoration!

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