Trolleys to the Casino: Facilities: Carhouses

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Chapter 5

The carhouse built by Contractor Joplin for the Exeter Street Railway in 1897 was 48 feet wide and 140 feet deep and was constructed on a masonry foundation. There were three tracks, each with a capacity of four single truck cars. Office facilities were provided at the northwest front corner of the building, the space behind the office being utilized for a repair shop.

This structure was enlarged early in 1899 with the construction of a 40 by 48 foot addition at the front; a 25 by 48 foot extension at the rear, and an ell, 10 feet wide and 73 feet deep, on the east side, Joplin being awarded the contract for the work. The office facilities were moved into the ell and a fourth track was installed in the carhouse, the capacity of which was increased to 24 single truck cars.

The extension at the rear housed the repair shop and was separated from the rest of the building by a fireproof brick wall. Six pits, with concrete bottoms and brick sides, were provided in the carhouse and at the front of the building was a concrete floor to serve as a wash stand for the cars. One corner of the repair shop was partitioned off to serve as a stockroom.

As enlarged, the Hampton carhouse, including the repair shop, was 48 feet wide and 205 feet deep, the building being protected against fire by an automatic sprinkler system.

Also protected by automatic sprinklers was the Amesbury carhouse of the Amesbury & Hampton. This brick building was 48 feet wide and 140 feet deep and had four tracks, with a capacity of 16 single truck cars. On the west side was a brick ell, 13 feet wide and about 60 feet deep, containing an office, a crews' lobby and a heating plant. Water for the sprinkler system and for carhouse purposes was drawn from a deep well and was stored in a 10,000 gal. tank atop a steel tower. In later years, with the extension of the town water system to the carhouse, the tank was removed and the tower was dismantled.

The substation addition constructed at the Amesbury carhouse in 1901 was a one story brick affair, 33 by 50 feet in area, with a concrete floor and a wood roof supported on steel trusses, and was located on the east side of the barn. Both the carhouse and substation addition became the property of the Massachusetts Northeastern in 1913 and the carhouse was in regular use until 1923, the substation remaining in operation till 1930.

Construction of the new brick carhouse at Hampton began in early 1902 and work was completed by midyear. The building was approximately 78 feet wide and 150 feet deep and had six tracks with a capacity of 24 double truck cars. It had a roof of planks and timbers on exposed steel trusses and was protected by automatic sprinklers.

After the opening of this new barn, it served as the operating center for such routes as the Exeter-Hampton Beach line in summer and the Hampton Village-Portsmouth junction run in other seasons and the EH&A carhouse across the road was used primarily for storage and for repairs. The Exeter, Hampton & Amesbury continued to use the new barn after the 1906 receivership and this was fortunate for fire broke out in the older frame carhouse late in the evening of Friday, March 1, 1907. Despite the operation of the sprinkler system and the efforts of the Hampton Fire Department, the flames spread so rapidly that nothing could be saved and when dawn broke on March 2, the building was nothing more than a pile of charred timbers, in the midst of which were what remained of five 10-bench open cars, in storage for the winter, and two work cars.

The EH&A needed a carhouse; the New Hampshire Electric Railways had no particular need or use for the P&E barn at Hampton. After court approval was obtained, the receiver of the EH&A purchased the building for $12,000, tendering $7,500 in cash and a portable rotary substation, valued at $4,500, in payment. This carhouse was used by the EH&A until abandonment in 1926 and was sold in 1927.

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