Dumbarton and County Tramways Company

If Only
By Craig Robertson
Artical from Trolley - Winter 2018

Imagine it now.
Thousands of people jumping on a tram in Glasgow city centre on a hot summer’s day and making their way to Loch Lomond. It would be a major draw for tourists and locals alike. Not to mention the chance to avoid the traffic on the A82 or the packed train services. Right now it seems like a pipe dream requiring millions of pounds of investment from the public purse. But just over 100 years ago that was the reality.
You could get the tram from the city out to Dalmuir and the connect with newly built local trams in West Dunbartonshire. In the summer of 1908 the line from Dalmuir to Balloch was completed and the Dumbarton and County Tramways Company Ltd operated a fleet of open-top trams. On it’s first weekend of operating, an estimated 30,000 people used the service which took them up to the Bonnie Banks.
It was part of a bigger system which saw trams spread throughout Dumbarton and reach the Vale, Bowling and Old Kilpatrick. But after the end of the First World War the death of the trams was nigh. Like so many other urban tramways in Scotland, the move towards buses signalled its end. Just 20 years later – despite an effort by the company to run its own bus fleet – they went into liquidation and the trams stopped.
The rails were lifted or tarred over. If only our ancestors could have seen what a gem the tram system was and how they would be coveted in the 21st Century then more efforts might have been made to save the Dumbarton trams. Although the same can be said for every tram system in Scotland.
For now, and many generations to come, we’ll just have to stick to that A82 or squeeze ourselves into a train carriage if we’re to enjoy a trip to the Bonnie Banks