In 1889 plans were submitted to Parliament by the British Electric Traction Company to try to obtain an Act for the construction of Wellingborough & District Tramroads. In fact the plans showed a tramway for Wellingborough and a separate one for Rushden.
The intended Rushden line extended from a field on the north of Church Street to Higham Ferrers station, the station at that time being the one at Chown’s Mill and subsequently renamed Irthlingborough station, as the branch line from Wellingborough to Higham Ferrers hadn’t been built. (This branch line opened in September 1893.) From there a branch line was proposed to go to Raunds. This was to follow much the same line as the present by-pass but then turned southeast towards Stanwick to join the Raunds Road north of the church and continued to Brook Street opposite the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel.
Part of the proposed route in Rushden.
Rushden was much more rural in those days and the route chosen through the town was from Church Street along the line of the brook until it almost reached Washbrook Road where it curved towards the present day Higham Road and continued north along the road to Chown’s Mill. In the schedule of land to be acquired in Rushden along this route were orchards, pastures and a garden belonging amongst others to John Cave, the boot and shoe manufacturer, and Arthur Campbell Bulkley Praed, the brewer. They were also to acquire two gardens in Higham Ferrers owned by Earl Fitzwilliam, one on the Market Square and one in College Street, to give sufficient width to the roadway to accommodate the trams. There was also much discussion about widening bridges, steep gradients, and the trams needing to cross railway tracks. The railway companies were not too happy about that.
Although the routes were all planned and surveyed not much thought seems to have been given to the motive power for the trams, the preferred options being steam, animal power or some other mechanical power.
In 1903 steps were taken to purchase the land but nothing seems to have come of it. In December 1904 the British Electric Traction Company wrote to the Rushden Council informing them that they were applying to Parliament for an extension of the time in which to construct their tramways between Wellingborough, Higham Ferrers, and Raunds, and proposed to abandon the line to Irthlingborough and Finedon as well as part of the lines in Rushden. The line would only include Washbrook Road in Rushden. Although some of the councillors thought the trams would still be an advantage to Rushden it was decided not to support the scheme unless the Company went back to the original plan.
A British Electric Traction Company button.
The British Electric Traction Company were prepared to apply to parliament to have the original scheme reinstated if the Rushden Council would support them, and although that was agreed to and the bill was passed the Rushden Council were unable to reach an agreement and Company finally withdrew their plans in 1905.