The Dublin & Blessington Steam Tramway

Rolling Stock

The new Dublin & Blessington trams consisted of double deck passenger cars hauled by small steam powered tramway locomotives, with a small selection of various kinds of goods wagon available for commercial traffic.

The double deck cars consisted initially of a fleet of ten 30 foot long bodies mounted on a pair of bogies situated at either end of the vehicle. The upper decks had roofs, but were open sided, which gave them a rather tall and ungainly appearance. They were later rebuilt with decency boards along the sides. There was one first class car, four third class cars, and five composite cars with capacity for both first and third class. The first class car was designed with the idea in mind of through running into the city using the lines of the DUTC, although in practice, this never happened.

There were ten vehicles available for goods traffic, too, all four wheeled wagons, including four open wagons, four cattle wagons, and two closed vans. Finally, two brake vans were required to work the goods trains. Goods trains were normally mixed in with passenger cars, and one locomotive might haul one or two double deck cars, or a double deck car and a small goods train.


The first locomotives were six brand new tramway type 0-4-0 tank locomotives purchased from the Falcon Works, Loughborough in 1887. They were numbered from 1 to 6, and just one of these, number 6, lasted until the close of the tramway in 1932, having been completely rebuilt at the Midland Great Western Railway works at Broadstone in 1914. These locomotives were known informally as the 'kettles'. They were never a great success, as they were rather underpowered for the job in hand. They could pull just one bogie car and a van reliably, and they could barely haul two bogie cars up the steep incline at Crooksling. Some received modifications down the years, but it became obvious that something more powerful would be required.

The next new locomotive to arrive was built by Thos. Green & Son, Leeds in 1892 and received number 7. This very heavy locomotive was a 2-4-2 tank engine more suited to heavier railway work. It was basically a steam locomotive with a driver's cab at each end for working trains in both directions. Number 7 never saw much use, as it was too big and heavy, and caused much destruction to the line.

In 1896 came number 8, an 0-4-2 tank also built by Thos. Green & Son, and smaller than number 7. It was rebuilt as a 2-4-2T in 1903, to become similar to number 9. Number 9 arrived in 1899, a 2-4-2T built by the Brush Engineering Works, Loughborough. The last new locomotive to arrive was built by Thos. Green & Son in 1906, also similar to number 9, and received number 2 in replacement for the original number 2 which was withdrawn and scrapped.It was renumbered as number 10 in 1915, and both numbers 9 and 10 were the only other locomotives to last to the end in 1932.

In Later Years

In 1916, an 0-4-0 well tank locomotive was acquired from the Dublin and South Eastern Railway. It had originally been part of a 1905 Kerr Stuart & Co. steam railmotor, being rebuilt as a locomotive and becoming DSER number 70. It became the third number 2 to operate with the DBST, but proved to be completely unsuitable. In 1918, it was replaced by an 0-4-0ST locomotive named 'Cambria'. This engine was built in 1894 by the Hunslet Engine Co. of Leeds for the Wexford and Rosslare Railway, and came to the DBST from the Great Southern Railways, receiving the number 5, again replacing one of the original 0-4-0 locomotives. It lasted until 1928.

The rolling stock was much modified and added to down the years. By 1902 there were eight composite bogie cars as well as the four original third class cars. By now the goods wagons included seven open wagons, thirteen cattle wagons, four closed vans and two timber wagons. All of these were small four wheeled wagons with the exception of the timber wagons which were carried on a pair of bogies each.

By 1912, there were just six composite cars, with five third class cars and four brake vans. The goods wagons consisted of sixteen cattle wagons, two covered vans, seventeen mineral wagons, and four of the bogied timber wagons. By this time, bank holiday trains would be loaded with Dubliners heading for the tourist catchpoints of Blessington and Poulaphouca, and during these busy times, the timber wagons were fitted with seats and a protective wire frame, and used as 'cage cars'.

As can be seen, there was much rebuilding of rolling stock as the changes in traffic demanded down the years. As the railway began to go into decline, with rolling stock falling into disrepair, and increased competition from road transport, some new initiatives were needed to keep the tramway in some kind of economic state. In 1915, two petrol-electric tramcars had been obtained. These were 33 feet in length, mounted on twin bogies, with accommodation for both first and third class passengers. Each were driven by a six cylinder Aster petrol engine powering a maximum traction type bogie at one end. They too were designed with through running to the city in mind, but again, this proved impossible in practice. The new tramcars were hopelessly underpowered and unsuitable, and were soon broken up.


In 1925, with the DBST in serious financial trouble, two small Ford railcars were purchased. These were based on the Ford Model T chassis, with a homemade 16 seater body built with parts from the two aforementioned tramcars. They were cheap and successful, being used on regular runs between Terenure, Tallaght and Jobstown, where small turntables were installed to facilitate them.

The last fling for the DBST was a Drewry petrol railcar with seating for 40 passengers, which arrived in 1926. It was a single deck vehicle with two driving axles and two pony axles, and could be driven from either end. After the break up of the DBST it was sold, along with one of the Fords, to the County Donegal Railways, where it was converted to their 3' gauge, operating successfully for many years. It is now the sole surviving vehicle from the Dublin & Blessington Steam Tramway, as it resides today in the transport museum at Cultra, near Bangor, in the North of Ireland.