Pothole reveals 1920’s tramline buried 60 years ago

April 7, 2010 | by | 0 Comments

Residents were stunned when a huge pothole on their street became so deep it revealed an historic TRAM line – which was buried 60 YEARS ago.

The crater uncovered a metal track which once carried trams through the streets of Plymouth, Devon, in pre-war Britain.

Local residents were completely unaware of the historic line except for Mary Wills, 62, who remembered her late mother talking about the trams.

Research revealed the road was used by trams in the 1920s, 30s and 40s with the last line closed at the end of WWII in 1945.

The pothole opened up on Saltash Passage following one of the harshest winters in decades and is now around four inches deep.

Mary, who lives nearby, said: ”My late mother often used to speak of using the tram from the family home at Saltash Passage in the 1920s and 1930s.

”I travel this road every day to see our daughter. The pothole is deep, but after this winter, the roads are bad everywhere.”

The tramway once ran from the nearby Royal Albert Bridge pub to Plymouth city centre and the former tram terminus and ticket office is now a cafe.

The trams were initially pulled by horses and later powered by electricity and would take passengers to the city centre and the former Little Ash Tea Gardens.

An area by the cafe is the spot where American soldiers embarked for the D-Day Normandy Landings in 1944.

There are an estimated 1,300 potholes in Plymouth which are set to be filled in with a one-off government grant of £179,600 from a £100 million nationwide pothole fund.

A Plymouth City Council spokesman said: ”We will be sending out an inspector and if the pothole is more than 40mm deep or presents a significant hazard it will be repaired within 24 hours. If not it will be added to our main programme of repairs.

”We have a team of highway inspectors who regularly patrol the network to identify defects and problems, with the highest frequency on main roads and pedestrian areas and less frequently on minor roads. The inspection regime is drawn up in accordance with Department for Transport guidance.

”Where potholes and dangerous defects are identified we have a 24-hour response target and a dedicated crew to repair these. During the winter we supplement the service with up to seven gangs filling holes and ‘making safe’.”

She added: ”Our programme of permanent repairs is replacing about 16,500 square metres of road surface and covers nearly 60 streets in the city.

”This work is normally carried out using specialist plant through the night to minimise disruption to traffic.”

Experts say there are currently three million potholes which need fixing in Britain following the winter freeze – at cost of more than £100million.

There are four or more different categories of priority depending on a pothole’s depth and width.

The Local Government Association say there there is an £8 billion shortfall in highway budgets meaning money is urgently needed to fix the problem.

Potholes are a major factor in causing axle suspension failure in cars which counts for a third of mechanical issues on UK roads – the average repair bill per vehicle is £240.

They cost British motorists an estimated £2.8 billion every year and councils currently pay out more than £50 million in compensation claims due to poor roads.

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