Preparing the Dover Tram Shelter for a 125th Anniversary paint job Photo: DDC

Dover District Council (DDC) is repainting the historic 1931 tram shelter at Elms Vale in the original colours of the Dover Corporation Tramways to mark the 125th anniversary today of the first tram journey in Dover on 6 September in 1897.

The refurbishment of the Grade II Listed tram shelter has been helped by a historic find at the town’s Grade I Listed Maison Dieu, which is undergoing its own £10.5m Lottery funded restoration.

During works at the Maison Dieu, the project team uncovered the history of an unassuming room on the Ladywell side of the building. Used as an electrical switch room, research has revealed it was once a hub of operations for the Dover Corporation Tramways.

The room retains many of its original fixtures and fittings and importantly, the paint scheme of the Dover Corporation Tramways. This has been colour-matched by DDC for the refurbishment of the tram shelter at the junction of Folkestone Road and Elms Vale Road.

Several artefacts connected with the Dover Tramways Corporation were also discovered in the room at the Maison Dieu, including rolls of unused tram tickets. More detailed historical research is planned, but it appears the Maison Dieu office was used as a communications hub for the tram network; answering public enquiries and complaints; issuing money floats and equipment to tram staff; and dealing with lost property.

When Dover’s tram system opened in 1897 it was only the second electrified tramway in the UK after Leeds, and the first in the south of England. The system continued for almost 40 years until 31 December 1936 when it was replaced by buses.

Tram Maison Dieu

Cllr Oliver Richardson, DDC’s cabinet member for corporate property, said: “Dover has a rich seam of transport and industrial heritage, so it’s great to have uncovered more about the story of the Dover Corporation Tramways as part of the Maison Dieu restoration.

“We’re delighted to be using this new discovery at the Maison Dieu to help us restore the iconic tram shelter at Elms Vale as a landmark of Dover’s history as a pioneer of the electric tram.”

By Ed

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