Tramline diggers are unearthed

The tramline lifters: (l to r) Ken (Charlie) White, Ron Gaits, Pat Murray, Eric Norton, Billy McCoy and John Edderwick.
The tramline lifters: (l to r) Ken (Charlie) White, Ron Gaits, Pat Murray, Eric Norton, Billy McCoy and John Edderwick.
A 1903 picture showing 'Point A on the Portsdown & Horndean Light Railway where two former horse tram cars acted as shelters.
Picture: Barry Cox Collection

NOSTALGIA: Hidden Portsmouth steps revealed, 107 years after they fell into disuse

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I cannot believe it but I have had a letter from two men who remember digging up of old tram lines in the photo I published two weeks ago.

First I heard from Tony Saunders who worked on the job but sadly was not in the picture.

He says: ‘The location is Gladys Avenue, North End, outside the old bus depot which you can see on the right looking south to the junction with London Road. The jacks used to raise the rails were loaned to us by bus depot staff.’

The six Portsmouth council workers just about visible in the photo are (from the left): Ganger Ken (Charlie) White; labourer Ron Gaits; pneumatic drill operator Pat Murray; the man to the rear with his hands in his pockets was the road markings painter Eric Norton; the roller driver was Billy McCoy, and finally there was bonus estimator John Edderwick.

Notice that none is wearing safety clothes. In fact the roller driver is wearing a mac!

Tony adds: ‘Sadly they’ve all gone to that great council depot in the sky.’

Engineer in charge was the north district surveyor, the late George Lewington. He worked from the old depot in Cosham next to the fire station. As for the rails, they were cut into four-feet-long lengths and stored at Court Lane sewage pumping station, Drayton, where they remained for years until sold for scrap. The blue granite setts between the rails were also recovered and later used around the city.