London United Tramways Company Limited was an operator of trams and trolleybuses in the western and southern suburbs of London, UK, from 1894 to 1933, when it passed to the London Passenger Transport Board. The company had been formed in 1894 by the Imperial Tramways Company under the leadership of George White and Clifton Robinson to take over the assets of the West Metropolitan Tramways Company, which had gone into receivership, and who had operated a horse-drawn tram service from Shepherd's Bush to Acton and Chiswick, and from Hammersmith to the north side of Kew Bridge via Chiswick. A further short route ran from the south side of Kew Bridge to Richmond.

West London ElectrificationEdit

LUT relaid the existing track, which was in a poor state of repair, and then extended and electrified the system. Electric trams first ran on three routes on April 4, 1901 between Hammersmith and Kew Bridge, between Shepherd's Bush and Kew Bridge (via Chiswick), and between Shepherd's Bush and Acton - making this London's first electric tram service.

Richmond BranchEdit


The track was never to run across Kew Bridge - the second (stone) bridge, built in the 1780s, was far too narrow (and very steep on the approach from Brentford) - which meant that there was another isolated length of single track of 1.53 miles, with passing loops, running from the south side of the bridge, across Kew Green, then south along the Kew Road and terminating at the Orange Tree Public House [2] in Richmond.

LUT made repeated attempts to cross Kew Bridge after it was again rebuilt in 1903 but continued to be resisted by Richmond Corporation Tramways Committee. Kew Road residents had also opposed two attempts (in 1897 & 1898) to install a second track - which would have necessitated road widening - and any subsequent electrification using unsightly overhead wires seemed out of the question too, locals favouring the underground conduit system instead. Kew Obsevatory also had concerns about the introduction of electric trams in southwest London.

And so, whilst the rest of London went electric, this little branch continued to use horse-drawn cars until well into the twentieth century - the interiors had red velvet seat cushions and were described as "comfortable, if not luxurious", and ran every quarter hour (the full "end to end" journey costing 2d) - until April 20, 1912 after which it was abandoned and replaced by part of a London General (LGOC) motor-bus route.

Richmond's tram-shed still exists as (what was) the Shaftesbury Centre in Kew Road just north of the A316.

Extensions to the SystemEdit

  • 1901: Extended from Chiswick to Brentford and Hounslow and from Acton to Ealing, Southall and Uxbridge.
  • 1902: Extended from Hounslow to Hounslow Heath, and from Brentford to Richmond and Twickenham.
  • 1903: Extended from Twickenham to Hampton, Hampton Court Richmond Bridge and Teddington.
  • 1906: Extended from Richmond Bridge to Ham Common, Long Ditton, Malden, Richmond Park Gates, Surbiton and Tolworth.
  • 1907: Extended from Malden to Raynes Park and Wimbledon.

The LUT system was connected to the London County Council tram network at Hammersmith in 1908, Tooting in 1922 and Wandsworth in 1931; and to the Metropolitan Electric Tramways (MET) at Acton in 1909.

The LUT CompanyEdit

The company's headquarters, depot and power station were in Chiswick. From January 1, 1913, LUT became a subsidiary of the London and Suburban Traction Company (LSTC), jointly owned by the Underground Group and British Electric Traction. LSTC also owned the other two tramway companies in the London area - Metropolitan Electric Tramways and South Metropolitan Electric Tramways.

In 1930 the company succeeded in having the London United Tramways Act passed. This gave the company powers to replace trams with trolleybuses. London's first trolleybus service started on LUT's Twickenham to Teddington section on May 16, 1931.

On takeover by the LPTB on July 1, 1933, London United had approximately 29 miles of tram tracks and 18 of trolleybus routes.

Full CircleEdit


Almost a century later the London United name was revived with the creation of London United Busways in 1989 as part of the break-up of London Buses Limited into separate companies (in preparation for privatisation). However, the name had an even shorter life this second time around - the London United logo being replaced on vehicles by September 2006 with the Transdev banner.

See alsoEdit


London's Trams and Trolleybuses, John R Day, published by London Transport in 1979

The History of British Bus Services, Second Edition, John Hibbs, Newton Abbot, 1979

The London United Tramways - Origins to 1912, Volume One, C.S. Smeeton, LRTA & TLRS, 1994

A Scientific Workshop Threatened by Applied Science: Kew Observatory to Be Removed Owing To The Disturbance Caused by Electric Traction, The Illustrated London News, August 8th 1903

External linksEdit

LUT Car 135 at Shepherd's Bush [3]

West Metropolitan Tramways at Kew [4]

London's Transport History 1901-1913, LT Museum [5]

History of LUT Fulwell Depot (Twickenham Museum website) [6]

Historic town tramway systems in the United Kingdom (v/t)


Alford and Sutton - Barnsley and District - Birmingham Corporation - Blackpool - Brill - Bristol - Chesterfield - City of Birmingham - Dearne District - Derby - Doncaster - Grimsby & Immingham - Grimsby District - Heaton Park - Hull - Ilkeston - Liverpool - London County Council - London United - Maidstone Corporation - Mansfield & District - Matlock - Mexborough & Swinton - Nottingham Corporation - Nottingham & District - Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire - Rotherham - Scarborough funiculars - Sheffield - Southampton - Volks Electric - Warrington - Wisbech and Upwell - Wolverton and Stony Stratford


Great Orme - Swansea and Mumbles Railway - Pwllheli and Llanbedrog


Glasgow - Scottish Tramway and Transport Society

Northern Ireland

Giant's Causeway Tramway

Isle of Man

Douglas Bay Horse Tramway - Douglas Southern Electric Tramway - Manx Electric Railway - Snaefell Mountain Railway - Upper Douglas Cable Tramway


Maley & Taunton