The Old Tramway in Stratford

Track of old tramway from Stratford to Moreton passing under a bridge, Stratford upon Avon. Overgrown and disused. 1900s
Image by WA Smith. Warwickshire County Record Office reference PH352/172/8

The William James Heritage Trail remembers William James (1771-1837) who built the tramway in Stratford.

The line started at the Stratford Canal Basin in the north and crossed the river before heading due south along stour valley. At the time (1826) it was seen as a very ambitious project. William James’ idea came from the want to transport his coal more easily, and the trail went from Stratford to Morten-on-Marsh. There were many limitations on the project, including the fact that steam trains were not allowed until at least five miles out of the town centre – this was due to worries over the steam causing the thatched houses to catch fire.

Grand opening

On the 5th of September 1826, the grand opening took place in Moreten, the project had taken four years to complete. The trams were course drawn with the wheels four feet apart, and people had to pay a toll to use the railway/tram. However unfortunately they had to close when they took the rails up in 1918, to use the metal for other purposes at the end of the war. Eventually, William James, went bankrupt due to his extensive number of enterprises and ended up in debtors prison.

A hen house!

In Ilmington, an old tram was discovered, being used as a hen house. Nowadays, many people enjoy walking the old tramline on a regular basis.

This story was created as part of an intergenerational digital inclusion project, in conjunction with Orbit Heart of England, with the assistance of students from Stratford Girls’ Grammar School.