They were considered to be new-fangled contraptions – Southampton shopkeepers didn’t want them anywhere near Above Bar and the High Street, deeming them far too dangerous.

In a time when roads were heavily congested with rush-hour traffic jams and overflowing car parks, it’s difficult to imagine how horse-drawn trams could have caused such a stir – yet in 1872 local shopkeepers were dubious.

Traders were concerned they’d be a hazard, that passengers would not be able to get on and off due to the speed, and the vibration would cause damage to the streets and sewers.

For many years the merchants kept horse-powered transport systems at bay, but to cater for the city’s growth in population and size, the first service was introduced on May 5, 1879.

Despite the tradesmen’s reservations, the clip-clop machines proved an instant hit, seeing 3,000 members of public hopping on board in the first few weeks.

About £26 was taken in fares during this period – almost £3,000 in today’s money

The original route made its way through from Portswood to Holy Rood via Lodge Road, High Street and the docks station. Just a few days later this was extended to the floating bridge via Canute Road.

A month later and another route had come into operation – from the Junction, down Commercial Road to Shirley.

The network grew over the following years as the elaborately painted and decorated machines picked up its customers before dropping them off all over the city.

More than 200 horses were used to lug the trams around, with stables built in Shirley, Portswood and Bitterne.

It was hard work for the horses, so they worked for a maximum of six hours a day – with extra animals on hand to help with the steep hills.

By the early part of last century the horses began to disappear, replaced by an electric tram system which served the people of Southampton until 1949.