Tracks revealed at Charlton’s lost last tram yard

London's last trams week
Inner London’s last trams ran 68 years ago this week (photo: Leonard Bentley under Creative Commons)

On this week in 1952, inner London’s last trams ran, with the very last journey taking place in the early hours of 6 July, when the final service ran from Woolwich to New Cross depot, passing through Charlton, with thousands lining the route. A few hours later, the replacement for tram route 40, bus route 177, ran for the first time, and the trams passed into history.

There are two locations in Charlton with close links to the tram. The first was an old repair depot in Felltram Way, close to what is now the Woolwich Road flyover, where tracks were still in place until the 1990s.

The second is more poignant. After they were taken out of service, the trams were taken to a yard in Penhall Road. They were scrapped and later burned. You can see this in a film made at the time, The Elephant Will Never Forget.

A few years ago, we were alerted to the possibility that the tram tracks might still be in place on Penhall Road. A Dutch tram enthusiast, Arie den Dulk, sent us some photos from the 1980s showing they were still there. We went for a look one day in 2012 – but the land was too overgrown to tell.

However, on a lockdown walk a few weeks back, the undergrowth had been cleared. And parts of the tracks remain in place, behind a warehouse, 68 years after they played host to London’s trams for the last time.

Tram tracks of Penhall Road
Small parts of where the tracks were can still be seen

With the Charlton Riverside area slated for redevelopment over the coming years, it will be interesting to see if any developer tries to retain a small part of London’s transport history.


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3 thoughts on “Tracks revealed at Charlton’s lost last tram yard

  1. maryorelse July 9, 2020 / 09:56

    There were tracks and remains of a turntable at Feltram Way but I am not sure what is there now and what not. I have a booklet somewhere with pix of inside that works. There might be all sorts of stuff around the Angerstein Line if you know where to look. Certainly also bits of the Glenton Railway were around two years ago
    – ‘Feltram way’ – Mr Fell was in charge of the trams of course.
    Different subject – if tram enthuiasts see this – there seems to be very little information on what was a very very large horse tram depot on the site which is now Greenwich Power Station Anyone that knows anything, would be grateful?? Stuff in tram reference books seems to conflict with local press reports too.
    Locally there is also the whole issue of Alf Jago and what was Really the last tram

  2. james kinsella July 9, 2020 / 16:06

    in the old boiler room at St Thomas church there a a couple of old tram seats , not in great condition but if there is a tram enthusiast who could make use them please get in touch .james kinsella

  3. James Hulme July 10, 2020 / 09:42

    I researched the site for RB Greewich in 2016 and can confirm these are the embedded tracks of a traverser that was installed to move the trams from the site entrance (off Woolwich Road) onto storage lines. The disposals took place between 2nd October 1950 and 29th January 1953 so were quite a local spectacle, one tram a week being stripped of its fittings and burnt. The metal was then sent for scrap. I have photos showing the operation.
    Furthermore, it looks like some of the poles that held up the wires over the tracks ended up as lamp posts down the drive of Stones Foundries, and are still there!
    James Hulme

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