Memories of Trams and Trolleybuses in Wandsworth and Tooting

Written by Geoff Bannister

 Garratt Lane looking towards Wandsworth
Click on picture [TB1721] for an enlarged version

I moved from Lancashire to live in London in March 1949 and initially lived in Longley Road at Tooting Junction. I was immediately interested by the trams and trolleybuses. Tooting Broadway was fascinating because of the big swing the trams made across the front of the Tube station before turning right towards Balham. There was also the trolleybus turning loop in Longmead Road, accessible from both directions. At weekends, my parents liked to go up to the Victoria Embankment on the tram so that we could visit the Central London. They were always amused [and puzzled] that while they stood by the river wall looking over, I would have my back to the river watching the trams reverse using the spring points at Savoy Street and also keeping an eye on the trams disappearing into the Subway entrance under Waterloo Bridge.

After six months, we moved to Wandsworth and lived about 100 yards up a side street off Garratt Lane about halfway between the High Street and Earlsfield. At the bottom of the street there was a loose sunken manhole in Garratt Lane and I used to lie in bed at night listening to the trolleybuses clonking over this cover. For the first year of course, Garratt Lane was an all trolleybus road until the 612 disappeared in 1950.

When I first came, I started to attend Sellincourt Road Junior School in Tooting and when we moved, my parents allowed me to stay there as I had made friends and so I commuted to Tooting every school day keeping in touch with the trams. One of my earliest memories of a dewirement was on my way to school when we came up behind a "Workman" service parked opposite to Earlsfield Police Station. Our bus swung out to overtake, not realising that the other vehicle had its booms up still.

One of the nice things about the school was that it was only three or four minutes walk from the Route 2/4 change pit at the end of Longley Road so I used to try to slip out there at lunch times and also walked that way on my way back up to the Broadway to get the bus home.

Although I wasn't into number crunching until a few years later, I was intrigued by the selection of vehicles of all types in service; the Felthams appeared enormous to eyes which had only seen Blackpool rail coaches previously while the buses included 'D' class austerities and a good selection of STLs plus 10T10s on the 711 and 712. The more I look back, the more I realise that I was fortunate to come to live in London and see the older vehicles before history and modernisation[?] swept them away.

From: "Jim Butterworth" <>

So much applied to me too! I lived in Earlsfield [Winfrith Road] for much of the war until a V2 nearly got me - and often visited later. The trams always made me sick so the trolleys were preferred; I can remember Tooting Broadway as there was a wide range of public transport there - a busy place indeed.

I can also remember the embankment and the trams disappearing into the tunnel and the sheer number of trams on the move all the time, nose to tail. I can actually remember asking why that tram [presumably a Feltham] was so much bigger than all the others ! Trolleys and Buses were all the same so why not trams?

From: "Lyn Mask" <>

I think my father lived in Garrett Lane [no.838] from around mid 1910's to the mid 1920's. If anyone can dig up any info I would be extremely grateful. Big ask I know.