Trolleys Return To Hampton Beach

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By Vern Colby

Seacoast Scene, Wednesday, April 6, 1983

Postcard view of an old trolley in front of the Casino. [Photo not in original article]

About a month before spring ends and summer begins, trolley cars will be returning to Hampton Beach, parts of Hampton itself, and some of the Route 1 strip in North Hampton - we rather fancy describing the bounds as 'Beach and Beyond,' since that evokes thoughts of an adventurous journey, same as "Australian Outback."

The maiden runs of two, new, trackless trolleys at beach and beyond is planned to take place on May 27th to take advantage of the Memorial Day Weekend, and that should ensure plenty of passenger's and beneficial publicity. The two route-two trolley facility comprises the new Hampton-Hampton Beach Trolley System. While one trolley, travels from the New Hampshire State Park by Hampton River Bridge along Ocean Blvd to the parking complex at North Beach - intersection of High Street, Bicentennial Park, etc., eventually to return by normal routing to the State Park - the other trolley, starting at that High Street Intersection, will proceed to town's traffic-light center, and then go this way and that on Route 1, as we had better make clear before we end this story.

C & J Airport Limousine Service of Dover, New Hampshire is owner of the new trolley system. C & J has been operating since 1961, transporting Dover, Durham, PAFB, Portsmouth, Hampton, and Seabrook patrons to and from Logan International with ten-trip per day schedule.

Hampton's Albert A. Ross will be Operations Manager. Al Ross is retired, former owner of Olde Lantern Realty a resident for several decades; he is a past president of the New Hampshire Realtors Association and active in civic and service organizations.

Hampton's Al Ross, Operations Manager

For this interview's information, we talked with Mr. Ross, and spent some time studying a book of considerable detail, TROLLEYS TO THE CASINO - {Exeter, Hampton & Amesbury Street Railway}. A Mr. O.R. Cummings, Historian, New England Electrical Railway Historical Society, Manchester, NH, wrote this with obvious affection and care for trolley cars. John Holman, curator, Hampton's Tuck Memorial Museum, praises the work, lent us postcards of trolleys - and you should remember when their summer season opens that the Tuck Museum has considerable collection of trolley memorabilia.

Mr. Ross told us lots of things about these trackless trolleys, time and price schedules, and the stops currently planned.

The two trolleys are brand new and custom built - or in the process. Place of manufacture is Kissimmee, Florida. First output of the factory was to Disney design for Disneyworld, Orlando - and the product was so pleasing to the public that other places sought the Kissimmee cars; St. Louis, Lexington, Kentucky, Virginia Beach. Last year, C & J put a trolley into Portsmouth providing an about-town historical tour.

These two buses will be somewhat larger than the Portsmouth one - each will seat 35 and stand 15 with those great old straps to hang to and sway gently.

"All licenses, rights, and routes have been approved for the starting date," says Al Ross. "In this recreation area, uniforms should be sporty and tasteful; drivers will wear Hampton Trolley T-Shirts and shorts or slacks with our logo. Well-trained drivers will have a session with Police Chief Mark to be sure of rules and regulations and guidelines for Hampton's highways. Our riders will experience the courtesies and friendliness to be expected at this famous summer beach."

As the trolleys wend their separate ways this summer, you will see a proud and handsome sight. "Colors will be green and natural wood finish - a sort of 'Hurrah for the Irish' - and the interiors will feature brass fittings. Just as with buses, subways, earlier trolleys; there will be colorful advertising space for local merchants - all sorts of ads; restaurants, shops, motorcycles, opticians....

"Naturally, the beach road route along the boulevard from State Reservation - Park to North Beach will have a number of selected stops; the Casino, the Ashworth ... There will be bright, red and white, two faced signs, 'Trolley Stop', to point the places. The State Park start, guaranteed from June 15-September5, will be every hour on the hour, everyday from 9am-9pm. The same applies to the uptown trolley starting from North Beach."

"As the Hampton-North Hampton trolley heads, up High Street toward town, it will stop at Five-Corners, and at the Route 1 light (Center Hampton) it will turn right to head north. Next stops will be; Hampton Motor Inn, Greenery. & Christmas Shop, Hampton Airfield entrance, and the North Hampton Factory Outlet for stop and turnaround. First stop southbound will be by Woody's Ski Shed, then; Simone's House of Pancakes, Dunfey's parking lot by side entrance to Lamie's Tavern, bus stop across from Colt's News, Galley Hatch and Hampton Cinemas. turn back there to the municipal parking lot at center (using entrance by Gulf Station). All of which makes it easy to turn back on High Street for return to North Beach Parking Area.

You will note that this route presents abundant opportunities; a great variety of shopping, proximity to find restaurants, chances to connect with other transportation, entertainment at cinema or flying field with vintage aircraft. Likely, on reflection, you'll see some adventure or convenience for you. We're confident that schedules will work out for efficient transfer from one route to the other."

Standard one-way fares for each route, all ages, is 75¢. There will be weekly discount tickets for such regular riders as beach workers, waiters and waitresses, etc. Rolls of tokens will be available, bringing fares to 60¢ a ride-all-day pass may be purchased for three dollars.

If not eliminated by some eager editor, we started this story with top title of 'Big Daddy Will Be Back'! We'd better explain that. You see, once the trolley started to Hampton Beach in 1897, the transportation system it represented became the heavy factor in starting the mass popularity that Hampton Beach enjoys to this day. Mr. O.R. Cummings tells us about it in his book. Apparently right from the start, the railway company presented fireworks and band concerts to attract crowds for its trolley cars. In 1899, the Exeter, Hampton, and Amesbury Street Railway built the Hampton Beach Casino's first structure, with Grand Opening on July 15. The railway's Hampton generating plant sent current to the beach for their Casino and adjacent Ocean House Hotel - and other beach hotels and some cottage owners wanted to have light from this line, which opened the growth leading to our present electric utility. The trolley did it - the Big Daddy.

Finally, Manager Ross says, "Memorial Day weekend will be the start and the schedules spoken of will be in effect. Perhaps, before June 15 there'll be some flexibility since that is our shakedown and final polishing period to assure smooth summer operation; we'll do our best to keep all informed. Our aim is to please the public on routes and schedules, so we ar receptive to suggestions. We're proud that the Hampton Trolley Company is privately owned and operated and financed; we represent no burden to the taxpayer. The Hampton Beach Chamber of Commerce has been very helpful and cooperative."

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