This was the second tramway in Blackburn (the Blackburn & Over Darwen Tramways Co. Ltd., having been in operation since 1881), and was authorised under the Blackburn Improvements Act of 1882.
It was constructed by Blackburn Corporation and leased to a private company, the Blackburn Corporation Tramways Company Ltd.
Opened on the 28th May 1887 the single track system was built to a gauge of 4ft 8½in and consisted of 4 main routes, two of which were operated by horse trams and the other two by steam power. When completed it stretched for just over 8¾ miles.
The first route to open was the steam line to Church, which ran from the terminus in Water Street, via Salford Bridge, High Street, Furthergate, Bottomgate and Accrington Road to Intack, then along Redcap to Church where it met the tracks of the Accrington Corporation Steam Tramways Company, although through running never took place.
On January 6th 1888 steam trams began running on the Cemetery route, again from Water Street, via Penny Hill, Larkhill and Whalley New Road to the Cemetery.
The first horse tram ran on the 25th August 1888 to Billinge, from a terminus outside the White Bull Hotel and ran via Water Street, Church Street, Victoria Street, Town Hall Street, and King William Street, through Sudell Cross and along Preston New Road to Billinge.
On the 26th January 1889 the final horse tram route to Witton opened. This also terminated at the White Bull Hotel and ran via Railway Road, the Boulevard, Jubilee Street, Mill Lane, Mincing Lane (then Back Lane), St. Peter Street, Freckleton Street, King Street, then along Whalley Banks and Redlam Brow to the Griffin Inn at Witton.
The initial rolling stock consisted of tram locos Nos. 1-7 built by Thomas Green of Leeds and double-deck trailer cars Nos. 1-8 built by Ashbury of Manchester.
A depot at Intack was constructed for the steam trams, whilst the horse cars were garaged at Simmons Street, along with stabling for up to 85 horses.
In 1895 the Company decided to adopt electric traction as the motive power and discussions were subsequently started with Blackburn Corporation, but in July 1897 the Company was suddenly offered for sale.
On the 24th August 1898 Blackburn Corporation purchased the Company for £77,210, all rolling stock and premises passing to the Corporation.
Nos. 1-14 had life protectors fitted in 1890.
All the locos, trailer cars and horse trams passed to Blackburn Corporation on the purchase of the Company on the 24th August 1898.
In producing this history reference has been made to the following sources;
The Directory of British Tramways (Keith Turner, PSL 1996); Trams in the North West (Peter Hesketh, Ian Allan 1995); Olive Green & Ivory