Constructed under the Sheerness & District Light Railway Order of 1903 to the narrow 3ft 6ins gauge, this short 2½-mile tramway situated on the Isle of Sheppey was initially planned to be a much grander system.
Objections were raised by the Sheppey Light Railway, whose lines the tramway would have had to cross to reach the proposed termini at Minster and Queensborough, and as a result these were never built.
The system as constructed consisted of three single-track routes radiating from a central terminus at the Clock Tower; to the South Eastern and Chatham Railway’s Dockyard station, along High Street and past the SECR’s town station; to Marine Parade; and along High Street to the Sheerness East station of the Sheppey Light Railway (where the power station and tram shed were situated).
The system opened on the 9th April 1903 with 12 (Nos. 1-12) double-deck open-top cars from Brush in a chocolate and cream livery. The number of cars was soon found to be too large for the truncated system and four were sold.
The overhead had been installed by the Berlin firm of Siemens and Halske and the cars were equipped with Siemens bow collectors (unique on British tramways).
This, in part, was responsible for the early demise of the system (the first electric tramway in Britain to close), when German spares became unavailable during Word War I.
Although the system had been offered for sale to Sheerness UDC and Sheerness RDC, both declined to purchase it and on the 7th July 1917 the tramway finally closed.
Nos. 1-12 had reversed stairs.
Nos. 1-8 sold to Darlington Corporation in 1917 (six were re-numbered 19-24 and two were used for spares).
Nos. 9-12 sold to City of Birmingham Tramways Co. Ltd. in 1904 (re-numbered 189-192).
In preparing this history reference has been made to the following sources;
The Directory of British Tramways (Keith Turner, PSL 1996); PSV Circle Fleet History 2PD2 (1979).