Decline of Dublin Trams

The momentous events of the years 1913-1922 had profound effects on the D.U.T.C., which was forced to make cutbacks. 1918 saw the first line closure in the network of 54 route miles, College Green to Whitehall via Capel Street. In the same year, route numbers replaced the symbols, starting with 1 at Ringsend and following the outer termini clockwise to 31 at Howth. Fifteen of the numbers still appear on buses running over former tramway routes.

Despite the company's difficulties, a fleet renewal programme began in 1918, 161 new trams being turned out by 1923. New top-covered cars capable of negotiating most bridges on the system appeared from 1922 onwards. This design evolved into the 'Standard Saloon', which had a totally enclosed upper deck, in 1924; No. 111 was the precursor of 91 similar cars. A bogie version of the Standard Saloon appeared in 1925.

Buses posed a serious threat to the trams from 1923 onwards. The Dublin and Lucan Electric Railway succumbed to competition in January 1925 at a time when the D.U.T.C. was itself seeking authority to operate buses. In return for getting bus-operating powers, the company took over the Lucan line and rebuilt it to the most modern standards. It reopened in 1928 with automatic light signalling and a fleet of new bogie standard trams running through to O'Connell Bridge. In 1928, the livery of the trams was changed to grey and white.

The Poolaphouca extension of the Dublin and Blessington closed in 1928. The line from Terenure struggled on until the end of 1932, when the D.U.T.C. Bath Avenue service (Route 4) also closed. Three of the vehicles were rebuilt as open-top double-deckers for the Howth (31) route, joining twelve similar vehicles based at Clontarf Depot.

A firm commitment to trams on its other lines and the threat from ever more stylish buses persuaded the D.U.T.C. to build trams of very modern design. Bogie Luxury Car No. 280 of 1931 was the precursor of 20 eight wheelers and 37 four wheelers turned out between 1931 and 1936, when Dublin's last new tram (No. 327) left Spa Road. The ability of the 76-seater bogie vehicles to carry enormous numbers of passengers in comfort added to the already legendary carrying capacity of D.U.T.C. trams. From 1935, the trams appeared in a new tram livery of Audley green and cream.

Bus operation was controlled by new legislation in 1932 when licensing was introduced and in 1933 when compulsory acquisition by statutory companies was facilitated. The D.U.T.C. took over all the competing bus companies in its operating area, thus creating a transport monopoly. This coincided with a change of management in the D.U.T.C. who decided to replace the trams with comparatively cheap diesel-engined double-deck buses.

Abandonment began early in 1938 and, within three years, some 220 Leyland Titan double-deck buses had replaced a roughly equal number of trams. In accord with its new role, the company changed its name in 1941 to Dublin United Transport Company, at the same time adopting a new livery and symbol - the Winged Wheel with Iomchar Atha Cliath in Gaelic lettering on the centre bar. Only three tram routes now remained: 6/7/8 to Blackrock, Dun Laoghaire and Dalkey, 14 to Dartry and 15 to Terenure.

Coras Iompair Eireann was established on 1st January 1945 by amalgamation of the D.U.T.C. and the Great Southern Railways. The new company took over 119 D.U.T.C. trams and planned their withdrawal as soon as sufficient buses became available. On 31st October 1948, the last trams ran on the Dartry and Terenure lines. The Dalkey service closed on 9th July 1949, No. 252 being the last tram into Blackrock Depot. The trams were quickly scrapped, most of the bodies being sold on for alternative use as holiday homes and farm sheds. On 1st October 1958, CIE took over the services of the Great Northern Railway within the Irish Republic. These included the Hill of Howth Tramway, which was closed on 31st May 1959, No. 9 being the last tram to operate in public service in the twenty-six counties.

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