Public Acceptability of Tram Overhead Wires – widespread throughut Europe’s historical cities

Above – tram wires strung from the Vienna Grand Opera House



Above – trams glides past the Colin’s

Various Notes from various contributors:

Remember, people walking in and around cities rarely look up above the shop name on a shopfront. The see the rails and think permanence and that’s where the trams run, but never look up at the overhead wires. In some European cities, OLE head-spans are attached to medieval cathedrals and no-one notices (or cares).

In Croydon the overhead wires were not taken down until several weeks after the trams ceased to run in April 1951, and the Croydon Advertiser carried out a public survey one Saturday in North End, a busy shopping street, asking pedestrians what was different in the street compared with the previous week.  Only three persons out of about forty interviewed even noticed that the tram wires had been taken down since the previous week. (J H Price, “Tramway London – Background to the abandonment of London’s trams 1931-1952”, LRTA, 1993).  People probably didn’t notice them either when they were put back up in Croydon town centre.

The attached photograph was taken August 2020 by David Hold Princess Street in Manchester.  The trams in the photograph are powered by barely-visible catenary-free single contact wires supported from the Town Hall behind the scaffolding, and from various other buildings opposite. The Leigh guided buses run past here.  The tram rails provide passengers with the smoothest-riding part of their whole journey.

However, trams do not need to run with overhead wires: