Shipley Glen Tramway

From BaildonWiki
Shipley Glen Tramway
Top Station Prod Lane
Bottom Station Thompson Lane
Built 1895
Built by Sam Wilson
Website [1]
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The Shipley Glen Cable Tramway is the oldest working cable tramway in Great Britain (cliff lifts excepted) having been built in 1895 to carry people up to Brackenhall Green (aka Shipley Glen). It is nearly a quarter-mile in length and the woodland ride provides a pleasant alternative to the steep path.

The plans for the tramway were provisionally approved by the Baildon Local Board in late 1894 and at that time the Lord of the Manor, Col. W. M. Maude, entered into an arrangement with the promoter of the railway - Mr Samuel Wilson, late landlord of the Malt Shovel. Arrangements had yet to be made as to what would power the tramway; in late 1894 Shipley Gas Company had refused to provide gas to that location but the Saltaire Syndicate might.[1] The hope was to have the work completed and the railway open by Easter 1895, however it did not open until 18 May 1895.

From the tone of an article in the Shipley Times and Express of 20 April 1895[2] not everyone thought the tramway a good idea at the time of construction:-

Permanent trespasses on Nature have already been made by the aerial flight and the switchback railway, and recently a tramway has been constructed up the Glen Wood alongside the pathway, which looks like an ugly scar amongst the sublime rusticity of the surrounding woodland growth.[2]

The article also mentions the "entertainment" up on Shipley Glen. The text of the whole article can be read here - EASTERTIDE AT SALTAIRE AND SHIPLEY GLEN

At the top it is only a short walk to the Cafe and The Old Glen House pub and a bit further to the Brackenhall Countryside Centre plus the rocks and woods of Shipley Glen. The bottom station allows access to Roberts Park and River Aire, the Waterbus on the Canal, and the delights of Saltaire with Salt's Mill and its famous Hockney Gallery.

The Tramway is open most weekend afternoons throughout the year. As well as rides on the open trams, there is a small souvenir shop at the top selling sweets and ice-cream plus a replica Edwardian shop at the bottom displaying and vending pure nostalgia.

The museum at the bottom station has been reopened and displays photos and memorabilia of the tramway and Shipley Glen along with words, pictures and memories of the tramway and Shipley Glen in a display named 'The Ride of Life' The museum opens weekends and bank holidays when the tramway is open and entry is free of charge.

The Tramway has a gauge of 20" and there are two tracks with a pair of trams on each line. The maximum gradient is 1 in 7. Opened to the public on May 18th 1895, the Tramway was powered by a Suction Gas Engine, then Town Gas and then Oil (1915) before being converted to electric in 1928.

The original operator was Sam Wilson who erected several other rides on the Glen. Mr. John Edward Woodhead ran the tramway after Sam. John Edward of 3 Pennithorne Avenue died in hospital 31 March 1955 aged 73.[3]

After a short closure, the line reopened in summer 1969 and continued until early 1981 when a right-of-way dispute prevented operations. The Tramway was saved by members of the Bradford Trolleybus Association with the financial assistance of Bradford Council. Operation continues using unpaid volunteer help.

Much of this content was taken from the Tramway website but they have now moved to shipleyglentramway and the historic data is no longer available.


  1. Shipley Times and Express 01 December 1894 THE PROPOSED RAILWAY SHIPLEY GLEN WOOD
  2. 2.0 2.1 Shipley Times and Express - Saturday 20 April 1895 EASTERTIDE AT SALTAIRE AND SHIPLEY GLEN
  3. Shipley Times and Express. Wednesday 06 April 1955 Baildon News