THE Cowdenbeath-Lochgelly area was an important part of the tram network which stretched out eastwards from Dunfermline in the early part of the 20th century.

Indeed, Cowdenbeath had the only double track stretch of the original set up and a major depot.

Cowdenbeath Rotary Club heard about the development of the Dunfermline District Tramways Company from guest speaker George Beattie, a keen West Fife local history enthusiast.

Said George: “Many big towns had tramways from around 1900 but the problem that Dunfermline District Tramways had was the lack of a local supplier of electricity that could maintain the volume of power needed but when Townhill Power Station came on line in 1906 that changed the picture.

“The decision was taken to build a tramway starting from East Port, in Dunfermline, and moving east out towards Crossgates and then from there to Cowdenbeath, Lochgelly and Lochore.

“A team of around 100 men armed with just picks and shovels got down to business and they built the single track tramway in just 10 weeks.

“Quite an amazing fact considering the project included putting up the poles which carried the cable which powered the trams.”

He added: “The thing about Cowdenbeath was that the Town Council insisted that the only way it could go through the town was through a double track up and down High Street.

“The other sections had a single track, with passing loops inserted, but the town council were not for moving on their idea of a two way system up the length of High Street and the single track up Broad Street became a double set-up all the way up the High Street.”

The single track resumed on the way to Lochgelly and down to Lochore through Glencraig and Crosshill.

George continued: “The tramway was a very important link for people from the Cowdenbeath-Lochgelly area who worked in the linen and silk mills in Dunfermline and the trams were very busy taking people too and from their work.

“Amazingly there were accounts of trams carrying as many as 100 people on journeys which is quite something.

“These were only allowed to do 16mph and when motor buses appeared on the scene later they were tagged at 12mph but into the 1930s the speed limits of the buses were raised and that was the start of the decline of the tram in the Dunfermline and Cowdenbeath area.

“The last tram run came in 1937 and they were all taken off the track and stored on the Crossgates to Cowdenbeath road.”

George also pointed out that the depot in Broad Street was built in 1909 and could accommodate 40 tramcars and of course, has been used as a bus garage since the end of the tramways and is still in operation today.