New General Traction Company Ltd
The New General Traction Company Ltd was registered on 24 March 1896. As well as
owning the Coventry Electric Tramways Company, it also owned the Douglas
Southern Electric Tramway Company (on the Isle of Man) and the Norwich Electric
The Coventry system was it's first venture and ultimately the one which lasted
longest, although the New General Traction Company owned it for a shorter period
than the other two systems.
The Douglas Southern Electric Tramway Company commenced operation on 7 August
1896. It was laid to standard gauge. The Norwich network opened on 30 July 1900
and, like Coventry, was a 3' 6" gauge system.
The liveries used by the three systems are reported as Chocolate and Cream (later
Maroon and Cream) for Coventry, Crimson and White for Douglas and Maroon and Ivory
for Norwich. It is possible that the three systems used similar if not identical
colours. The varied colours reported could simply be due to different descriptions
being used by observers for the same or similar shades. This is, however, purely
conjecture. It is now over 60 years since the last tram operated under the New
General Traction Company's control and it is doubtful whether any records survive.
The New General Traction Company Ltd sold it's interest in Coventry to the
Corporation on 1 January 1912. The agreement to operate the Douglas system expired
on 13 April 1926. At that date, the Douglas Southern Electric Tramway Company
was merged with the Douglas Head Marine Drive system, New General Traction ceasing
to have any involvement of any sort in it's running. The merged operation continued
until 15 September 1939. It was intended to reopen the system after the end of the
war, but this was not to be.
The Norwich Electric Tramway Company was different from both the other systems. It
remained under the control of New General Traction for almost all it's existence.
Only in December 1933 did control pass out of it's hands - to the Eastern Counties
Omnibus Company. The trams ceased on 10 December 1935.
An account of the Douglas Southern Electric Tramway Company appears in the book
'Double Century - the centenary story of two unique Manx Tramways' by Stan Basnett
and Keith Pearson (published by Adam Gordon in 1996). Their work includes several
references to the New General Traction Company Ltd of which one advises:
"In 1928 the NGT reduced its then capital by one-third and changed
its name to the General Consolidated Investment Trust Ltd, in which form it still
existed as late as 1970."
Records available on-line at Companies House show that as General Consolidated
Investment Trust Plc, the company survived until 31 December 1997 when, in Members
Voluntary Liquidation, it was wound up.
The New General Traction Company Ltd had international aspirations and at one stage
had interests in the United States and possibly Europe. At the winding up of
General Consolidated Investment Trust Plc, it was registered at an address in
Lambeth Palace Road, London, and had no branches, either in the United Kingdom,
Europe or further afield.
Footnote - Anyone interested in trams is urged to read 'Double Century - the
centenary story of two unique Manx Tramways'. Whilst it is obviously a work
primarily covering the Isle of Man, it contains much information of far wider
interest. The joint authors are to be congratulated for providing such a
detailed work on the systems involved, recording many gems of minutiae which
may otherwise have been lost forever. Similarly, the publisher - Adam Gordon -
deserves full praise for making available a work which may not have been considered
'mainstream' by some other publishers.