Although a number of tramway schemes had been proposed for Wakefield from the 1870’s onward, the first to be constructed was promoted by a group of local businessmen and authorised by the Wakefield & District Light Railway Order of 1901.
On the 25th April 1903 the Yorkshire Electric Tramways Construction Syndicate Ltd was formed to build the tramway.
Over 16 miles of tramway was constructed to a gauge of 4ft 8½ins and consisted of three routes; from the Castle Inn, Sandal, via Wakefield to Thwaite Gate, Hunslet, on the Leeds boundary, where it connected with the Leeds system – through running commenced on the 1st June 1905; from Agbrigg to Ossett Market Place, where a connection with the tracks of the Dewsbury, Ossett and Soothill Nether Tramway was made in 1908, but through running never took place; and a short 1½ mile branch line from Rothwell Haigh to Rothwell village, which was worked as a service from Thwaite Gate.
The first two routes opened together on the 15th August 1904, with the Rothwell service commencing early in December 1904 (although the exact date is unknown).
The initial fleet consisted of 55 double-deck trams, built by the Electric Railway and Tramway Carriage Works at Preston and liveried in crimson lake and cream. Nos. 1-30, delivered in 1904, were open-top, whilst Nos. 31-55 were delivered in 1905 with top covers.
On the 4th April 1905, the Wakefield & District Light Railway Co. Ltd was taken over by the Yorkshire (West Riding) Electric Tramways Co Ltd (a subsidiary of the Yorkshire Electric Tramways Construction Syndicate Ltd), which had been registered on the same day, although the W&D company was not officially wound up until 1911.
Nos. 1-30 to Yorkshire (West Riding) Electric Tramways Ltd. 4/05.
Nos. 31-55 to Yorkshire (West Riding) Electric Tramways Ltd. 4/05.