Trolleys to the Casino: Abandonment

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The EH&A's operating loss for the year ended December 31, 1925 was $5,272 and the taxpayers of Hampton, in four years, had raised and appropriated nearly $30,000 to meet the annual deficits and interest payments. There seemed to be no prospects for any im- provement in the situation and at the annual town meeting in 1926, it was voted to get out of the transportation business and to sell the EH&A's assets. Proceeds from the sale were to be used to pay off all claims against the railway and to retire the bonded indebtedness, or as much of it as possible, incurred for the purchase and rehabilitation of the property.

(The abandonment move was the second proposal offered to the voters at the town meeting. The first called for the operation of street cars between Hampton depot and Hampton Beach from May 30 to September 30 and bus service in other months. The Whittier's- Smithtown branch and the tracks between the Hampton carhouse and Exeter were to be torn up).

A request for permission to abandon the EH&A was filed with the the Public Service Commission on April 26 and after a public hearing at which no opposition was voiced, the desired authority was granted on May 27. The bus probably made its last trips on Saturday, May 29.

Dismantling of the EH&A began immediately, the rails and overhead material being sold for scrap. Remaining assets were placed on sale on February 15, 1927, with most of the rolling stock, tools and supplies being purchased by the Perry Buxton Doane Company, Boston scrap dealers. The car barn, several telephone booths, the waiting station at Smithtown and other real estate were sold to private parties. All outstanding debts were paid and $22,000 was turned over to the American Trust Company for redemption of the town bonds.

A franchise to operate buses between Hampton depot and Hampton Beach was granted to the Boston & Maine 'I'ransportation Company, which also provided bus service between Exeter and Hampton for a few months. This latter operation proved to be unprofitable and was soon given up. During the summer of 1926, the B&M 'I'ransportation Company also operated buses between Portsmouth and the Hampton Beach Casino. However, trolleys of the Massachusetts Northeastern continued running between Salisbury and Hampton Beaches every summer through 1930.

An interesting aftermath of the municipal operation of the Exeter, Hampton & Amesbury occurred in March 1949 when the Hampton Town Hall was destroyed by fire. One item of property saved was an old wall clock, which formerly had hung in the office at the Hampton carhouse. When the barn was sold in 1927, the clock was installed in the Hampton town clerk's office, where it became known as the $80,000 clock, symbolizing Hampton's loss in its ill-fated street railway venture. Stored briefly after the fire, it later was returned to useful service in the town clerk's quarters in a new municipal office building. (It now hangs in the Selectmen's Meeting Room. -Ed.)

The Hampton carhouse saw a wide variety of uses and several owners after abandonment of the EH&A and was last occupied by the Floxtex Corporation, manufacturer of a synthetic fabric. The building was destroyed by an explosion and fire on April 3, 1953 and all that remains of the former car barn today are piles of rubble.

As noted in Chapter 6, the Exeter & Hampton Electric Company acquired title to the Hampton power house and substation in 1908 and the alternating current purchased by the utility from the Rockingham County Light & Power Company was delivered at this point, where it was reduced from 6,600 to 2,200 volts for the distribution system. (Occasionally, it is reported, the power available from Portsmouth was inadequate at times of peak loads on the Exeter & Hampton and it was necessary to use the 2,300 volt alternator at Hampton to help meet the demand).

During 1927, the Exeter & Hampton constructed a new 13,200 volt transmission system and provided new substations at Exeter, Hampton Beach and in the Guinea section of Hampton. The power purchased from Portsmouth was delivered at the Guinea station and the use of the old EH&A power plant and substation was discontinued by the utility - although, until 1930, the substation continued to serve as a distribution center for the high tension lines feeding the substations of the Massachusetts Northeastern Street Railway.

Later, the old power house and substation were sold to the town of Hampton for a consideration of $1. The complex still stands and at the time of this writing, the former power station housed the Hampton Machine Company while the old substation was being used as a storage warehouse by the Lindstrom Brothers Van Lines, Inc., of Melrose, Mass.

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