Adyar River Tramway

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The Adyar River Tramway was under consideration in 1842 to provide a tramway, either using stone or iron rails, to connect south Madras to the outlying districts of Santhome and Mylapore. [1]

The proposal was to construct a tramway, presumably to convey carts pulled by bullock and extended over existing roads. A short length was constucted but in 1843 the experiment was abandoned.


By 1842 a letter to the Court of Directors of the East India Company requested payment of Rs1817.15 for the construction of the tramway [2].

In the reply the Directors requested a report from the Military Board on the feasibility of the experiment [3]. In the engineer’s report Lieutenant Robertson says the engineer escorted the Superintendent of Roads to review the tramway. A length of stone tramway 684ft (0.12Km) had been built “substantially with judgement. The track had been down 2 monsoons so was a fair trial. It was useful with the public facilitating the haulage across what was in some parts a heavy bed of sand". The cost quoted differed at Rs1539 for the length of track. This meant a calculated Rs11,880 per mile (1.6Km). There was evidence that the sets had moved and over a longer route would be costly to maintain. A suggestion that causeways would be cheaper and more easily maintained [4]. These facts unfortunately put an end to the experiment and the Directors declined to continue [5].


The India Office Records (IOR) records held at the British Library relating to this tramway are primary information sources: -

  • Z/E/4/46/A198; 1842-1845; Adyar River, Tramway across, construction
  • Z/E/4/46/M386; 1842-1845; Madras Town, Tramway across Adyar River, construction
  • Z/E/4/46/T283 and Z/E/4/46/R430; 1842-1845; Tramways, across Adyar River , satisfactory construction.

Further Information

For more information and background:-

See Early Railway Experiments and Proposals

and Tramroads, Riverbed Crossings


  1. Wikipedia “Adyar River ” Retrieved on 14 Aug 2016
  2. British Library IOR/Z/E/4/A/198 “Letter dated 23rd November 1842”
  3. British Library IOR/F/4/2089 “Military Report 135 1843 Board collections 97150”
  4. British Library IOR/F/4/2089 “Military Report 135 1843 Board collections 97150”
  5. British Library IOR/E/4/963/P905 “Letter from the Revenue Department dated 9th September 1863”