Bohemia Village Voice  Bohemia Village Voice

For bohemians everywhere

Tramways arrive in Bohemia

Bohemia Road, in the early 1900s being laid with tramlines. (Picture kindly supplied by Geoff Northwood)

Bohemia Road, in the early 1900s being laid with tramlines. (Picture kindly supplied by Geoff Northwood)

A century ago Bohemia acquired its first tram

The laying of tramways in this town began towards the end of 1904, so the photograph was probably taken during the spring of 1905, since the man seen walking past no. 55 is not wearing a top coat. The public tram service commenced on 31st July 1905, running from the depot in Beaufort Road, Silverhill. This is now used by Stagecoach-in-Hastings as their bus depot.

Certain features in this picture which have changed are: the gas street lamps, replaced by electric, and the sunblinds. Most of those blinds were supported by poles which fitted into square holes with metal surrounds in the granite kerb-stones. Many of these may still be seen (picture, right, outside Masquerade). The fact that so many blinds are drawn down suggests that this photograph was taken during the afternoon, when the eastern side of Bohemia Road receives full sun (at least on sunny days).

Apart from shop-fronts and shop names, very little has changed architecturally since these two terraces were built (early 1870s). An intriguing feature, still present, is the niche above the corner entrance of no. 61 (top right). It appears as though intended for a saint’s effigy. However, no. 61 was originally named Albert House, so perhaps a statue of Prince Albert, who had died in 1861, had been considered.

Interestingly, Memorial House, built around the same time, is to be seen on the side entrance of no. 45, Bohemia Road, i.e. in Upper Park Road.

No 61, Bohemia Road today  with mystery alcove

No 61, Bohemia Road today with mystery alcove

Kerbstone with metal pole socket

Kerbstone with metal pole socket













Bohemia Road – 1904

53 J. H. Weatherseed – Plumber
55 Thomas W. Jones – Chemist
57 Mrs E. Murray – Draper
59 London & County Banking Co. Ltd. – W. G. Carpenter, manager. Bank House – W. C. Hawker
… here is Upper South Road …
61 John Banks – Butcher
63 S. Gold – Corn Merchant
65 B Crouch & Son – Shoe Warehouse
67 P. W. McLaggan – Watchmaker
69 J. H. Pullman – Stationer
71 W. B. Taylor – Draper
73 William Wratten – Grocer
75 G. M. Smith – Oil & Colourman – G. J. Peal, mnger
… here is Newgate Road …
77 King Bros. – Newsagents (Tele. 354a)
79 not listed
81/83 J. B. Ward – Hosier
85 not listed
87 A. G. Ward – Confectioner
… Opposite …
62 Edwin C. Smith – Grocer
64 J. Cosens – Plumber, Decorator, Ironmonger and Gasfitter
… here is South Road …
66 W. H. Knight – Draper


Priory Avenue resident writes (Jul 2009)

Dear Sir, I was interested in your article on the tramways [Village Voice, May 2009]. After the trams were discontinued, they were replaced by trolleybuses. My father was a conductor on the trolleybuses after the Second World War, and later he became a driver. He said it was very cold driving trolleybuses in the winter, as the electric motor gave no heat at all. I remember there was an island at the top of Elphinstone Road by the cemetery, where the trolleybuses had to turn round. It was a tight curve, and also going downhill, and if the drivers didn’t judge it right the poles would come off the wires. Then the conductor had  to get out the long pole with a hook on the end of it that was carried on the bottom of the trolleybus, and hook the poles back on. Priory Avenue resident (name and address supplied).

Peter Winder writes (Jul 2009)

Dear Sir, inspired by the article, “Tramways arrive in Bohemia”, [Villiage Voice, May 2009], I did a little research. I wondered if 61 Bohemia Road might originally have been a pub with its name in the niche. I found that it seems to have been a butcher’s shop from the beginning.  At the time of the construction of the house, and for some time after, Bohemia Road was not used as an address.  The group of houses between Upper South Road and Newgate Road were known as number 1 to 8 Albert Terrace, with the present 61 Bohemia Road being number 8. Mr. Preston may well be right and the niche was intended for a memorial to Albert as, presumably, the terrace was named after him, but were people still lamenting his passing more than ten years later? Peter Winder, Essex.

We’ve passed on your query to our local history expert, Edward Preston – ed.


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