Tram Networks
There were two passenger tramway networks in Aberdeen. From the GNSR point of view, these were both its competitors. If things had happened otherwise, though, there might have been a degree of integration between railway and passenger tramways and/or between passenger tramways and the harbour rail network. The city tram network started in August 1874 with horse-drawn trams, which were superseded by electric operation from December 1899 onwards. The network - shown left, at its maximum extent, in 1922 - was initially a private company, but was taken over by Aberdeen Corporation in August 1898. (Click on image to view). Because the Corporation believed that it did not have the power to operate trams beyond the then City boundaries, it encouraged the creation of a private company to operate the “Suburban” network. This extended the city network south-westwards, operating two routes - from Woodside to Bankhead and from Mannofield via Cults to Bieldside Church - with depots at Mannofield and Bankhead. For most of its operating life (1904 to 1927), the trams also ran onwards over the Corporation tracks from Mannofield to Castlegate and from Bankhead to St Nicholas Street, although there were occasions when disputes and unpaid bills intervened. A narrow gauge railway (the Strabathie Light Railway) was constructed in 1899 from Blackdog to Bridge of Don, to the north of Aberdeen (4 miles). Initially, this was a freight line, exporting bricks, tiles and drainage pipes southwards from the Strabathie Brick Works. There was discussion of a transhipment link to the tram network at Bridge of Don, but press and public opinion prevented this. Following the opening of the Murcar Links Golf Club in 1908, a purpose-built petrol railcar was operated, to carry golfers from Bridge of Don to the clubhouse. With the closure of the Brick Works in 1924, the golf club itself operated the line until its closure in 1950. Another scheme promoted under the 1896 Light Railways Act was the independent Aberdeenshire Light Railway from Aberdeen to Echt (17 miles). This line was to have had its own roadbed as far as the city outskirts, but then connect to the harbour and existing railways along public roads. GNSR counter-proposed the Echt Light Railway, along the same countryside route, but using the existing street tramways to reach the city and the GNSR main line. It was even proposed that GNSR acquire the city tramway system (then still a private company). Objections were lodged to the laying of tracks in city streets and to the carriage of goods on tramways. The promoters of the Aberdeenshire Light Railway withdrew their scheme, but GNSR persisted and, in 1897, were granted permission for a light railway from Echt to the city outskirts. GNSR then proposed to extend the Echt Light Railway three miles northwards, to join its main line at Kittybrewster. An Order was granted in 1898 for this extended scheme, but it became clear that the costs of land and overbridges would be excessive and the scheme was dropped. In 1904, a 3 foot gauge electrified line from Echt to the city boundary was proposed by the Aberdeenshire County Council. The tramways had recently been acquired by Aberdeen Corporation and it was again hoped that through working of passengers and goods would be approved. However, the cost of laying mixed gauge track killed this scheme. Shortly after the promotion of the Echt Light Railway, GNSR tried again, proposing a light railway between Aberdeen and Newburgh (15 miles). This would have presented no difficulties north of Bridge of Don, but access to the harbour and the railways would again have had to depend upon the street tramways. This led to the scheme being shelved. Thus, in the end, Aberdeen railways and tramways remained independent of each other.