After the Eastbourne operation closed at the end of the 1969 summer season, Claude Lane transferred his line to Seaton, in Devon. When reconstructed, the line was regauged to 2ft 9in and the existing trams modified to suit. The line follows about 3 miles of the former Southern Railway branch line from Seaton to Colyford and Colyton - the branchline originally continued to Seaton Junction on the main line from Waterloo to Exeter.

A large depot and workshop has been constructed at Riverside, and these workshops not only maintain the existing fleet but have an on-going programme of restoration of old tramcars, suitably modified for the narrow gauge, and new construction of trams particularly suited to the environment in which they operate; the latest cars being constructed have a centre low-floor section for use by the less agile members of our society.

One tram, No.17, has been constructed in the style of a Manx Electric toast-rack car with a section specifically designed for the carriage of wheelchairs.

Let's look at the fleet starting with the cars originally operated at Eastbourne.

Car 2 was the last new double deck car to enter service at Eastbourne and was built, in 1964, to resemble a London car of the 1900s era. The car has the open platforms of the period and, like all the open-top double deck cars on the line, is very popular with the visitors.

It is seen on the stretch of line between the depot and town centre which has tight curves (like any real tramway!) and the track is either grassed or paved.

Car 4 was constructed in 1961 as an interesting and popular addition to the Eastbourne fleet. It is in the style of a Blackpool Boat car and even has the tall gantry for supporting the trolleypole - a feature typical of Blackpool's tramcars.

Here it loads at the Colyton terminus having just reversed under the trolley reverser which saves the driver having to get out to change the pole around by hand.

Cars 6 and 7 were built to basically the same design before the Eastbourne line was opened (in 1954 and 1958) and, along with car 8 were the standard design of double deck car. Car 6 is painted in green, car 7 maroon and car 8 is yellow. The design is based on the ex-Bournemouth cars on the Llandudno & Colwyn Bay system.

Car 7 arrives at the smart and very vintage looking tramway terminus in Seaton Town Centre. It includes traditional style queuing barriers for busy periods as well as the not-so-traditional gift shop - disguised as a ticket office!

At Colyford, the line crosses the busy A3052 on the level. Here car 8 holds up the traffic for a few seconds on its way to Seaton.

Car 8 was constructed at Eastbourne in 1967/8 but it was in fact the first car built specifically for the 2ft 9in gauge.

Colyford is the only intermediate stopping place although there are several passing loops on the line. Adjacent to the tram stop is the White Hart Inn - but beware this closes at 3:00 - but they serve real food and, more to the point, real ale too!

Colyford Village has its own website here.

The final Eastbourne car, No.12, was constructed in 1966 as a fully enclosed single deck car for use in inclement weather. Initially it ran at Seaton in this condition but was rebuilt as an open top double deck car in 1980. It was further rebuilt into the form seen here - that of the London United "Feltham" car the most modern to operate on the London Transport system. The fleet name on the car is also in the London United style (see top of the page).

Here, No.12 comes off the level crossing into the passing loop at Colyford on a private hire job, closely followed by the Manx car, No.17.


Page 2

You can find the official Seaton Tramway website here. It has timetables, fleet information, details of various special events - they even run tram driving courses.


Gerry Cork July 2003
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