Winton Forum


Getting about in the past

The development of Charminster and Queens Park coincided with the appearance of modern road transport. Electric motors and petrol engines were taking over from horses when the newly built suburbs around Malmesbury Park found themselves on Bournemouth's new tram network.


Tram at Queens Park
Queens Park Corner, 1906

The first tram ran from Richmond Hill to Capstone Road just before Christmas in 1902. The line ran up Charminster Road, down Capstone Road and on to Holdenhurst Road. Another service ran into town from Queens Park Corner (the junction of Ashley and Holdenhurst Roads).

Befitting their new ultra-modern equipment, the drivers and conductors wore smart uniforms. A reporter from the Bournemouth Graphic wrote in 1902 that "the gorgeous apparel of the Bournemouth Tram Car inspectors closely resembles that of a military staff officer", and a lady had assured him that there was "enough braid on each inspector's arm to trim a dress for herself and another for the baby."

The trams may have been shakey, slow and noisy - but they were reliable. You would never normally have to wait more than a quarter of an hour to catch one.

Electric power for the trams was provided by the Borough Council's own power station in Southcote Road where there were four coal fired steam generators.

Plans to introduce Sunday services were vigorously opposed by churchmen and residents who did not want their day of rest disturbed. The matter was partially settled by a local referendum and afternoon Sunday services were introduced in 1913. Sunday morning trams did not appear until 1926.

The tram service was finally closed down in 1935-36 - even though trams still remain a mainstay of public transport in various cities around the world.

Trolley buses

Bournemouth trolley  bus
1935 Sunbeam trolley bus

The rails were dug up and the trams were replaced by trolley buses in 1935. Faster, smoother, cleaner and virtually silent the new vehicles were seen as a big improvement. The move also made the roads safer for cyclists who could easily be thrown off their bikes if their wheels dropped into the tram rail slots.

The two trolley bus routes serving Charminster were Number 28 opened in 1935 to link The Square to Castle Lane via Charminster Rd, and the Number 2 which started two years later between The Square and Malvern Road.

During the war years around a third of the fleet was loaned to other cities whose transport systems had been badly damaged by bombing.

The standard Sunbeam trolley buses seated 56 people and had both front a rear exits with automatic doors. They were so reliable that many of the original 100 were still operating when Bournemouth's trolley bus network was finally closed down in April 1969.


Daimler bus
1914 Daimler

Charminster got one of Bournemouth's first regular bus services in 1914 when a route was introduced between Cemetery Junction and Fiveways.

Two of vehicles were of a design that sounds very modern in retrospect. The Tilling-Stevens bus combined petrol and electric motors. The petrol engine drove a dynamo which in turn powered an electric motor. The result was a smooth ride and acceleration in a vehicle that had no clutch or gearbox.

The route was withdrawn at the outbreak of the First World War, but ran again for a couple of months in 1915.

The buses were originally seen as supplementary to the trams but their flexibility, economy and growing reliability put them on course to finally overcome electric powered transport.

Bus routes were gradually developed in the 1920's.


  • Kings Road to Charminster Avenue/Gresham Road


  • Queens Park to Winton via Richmond Park Road
  • Kings Road to Malvern Road via Ripon Road
  • Charminster service extended to Castle Lane
1931 Thorneycroft Bus
1931 Thorneycroft


  • Thorneycroft express bus service introduced to supplement the tram route from Lansdowne to Kings Road

Bus finally got formal route numbers in 1931.

The three routes covering Charminster and Queens Park were the Number 4 from the Square via Charminster to Castle Lane, the Number 5 from the Square via Charminster to Malvern Road, and the Number 7 from Boscombe via Charminster and Winton to Columbia Road.


On the declaration of war in 1939, all bus services ceased at lighting up time, but within a week a restricted service was introduced to run through the blackout. Some buses were sent to other parts of the country - but because of petrol rationing and the relatively small number of private cars, the war years were very busy for public transport.

As many men were now serving in the forces, Bournemouth got its first woman bus conductors in 1941. Around 200 of them were subsequently trained as drivers.

The first diesel buses appeared in 1943. Because of paint shortages they were simply finished in grey or brown. All buses were fitted with shades over their headlights to prevent them from being seen by enemy aircraft.

Bournemouth bus 1948 1948 - outside the Congregational Church in Capstone Road

A number of bus services were curtailed during the war and there were no buses after 9 PM. Sunday services started at 1 PM except for special workers buses which also ran on Christmas Day.


Vehicles were replaced with both second-hand and new buses after the war and services expanded.

The Bournemouth public transport system reached its peak in 1950 with more passenger journeys than at any time before or since.

But the end of petrol rationing in 1950 led to a rapid increase in car ownership and subsequent decline in public transport.

The last major change was the closure of the trolley-bus system in 1969.