THE last remaining Southampton tram driver has died, aged 96.

Ben Ventham spent a lifetime working on the trams and buses in the city.

Described as someone who 'broke the mould' by his loving family in the UK and Australia, Ben performed a charity skydive at the age of 85 and had his last of four tattoos just weeks ago.

READ MORE: Tribute to former Southampton nurse of the year

Living independently in his ground floor flat in Millbrook until the end, the father of three, grandfather of six and great grandfather of one was a regular visitor to Shirley High Street on his mobility scooter. 

Born in Eastleigh in 1926, he was named Arthur but was known as Ben from early childhood. Ben spent some of his early years with his grandparents in London before returning to Bishopstoke and attending the local school.

As a young man, he was a Petty Officer in the Royal Navy and was later deployed to the Far East as a paratrooper.

Daily Echo:

For the final four years before trams ceased operation in Southampton in 1949, he happily drove trams 11 and 12 on various routes including Floating Bridge – Shirley - Holyrood – High Street – Royal Pier. He is pictured inside tram number 11, which now resides at the Solent Sky Museum following restoration in a project Ben supported.

Ben was then transferred onto the buses and enjoyed several driving and inspecting roles in a career spanning more than 30 years.

His most regular bus route was Houndwell, Woolston, Bitterne, city centre, Hill Lane, hospital and Shirley.

He retired 41 years ago and has since become a whizz at green bowls, travelling to various locations for games and competitions. Ben also enjoyed fishing, gardening and classical music.

Daily Echo:

Ben raised more than £2,000 for Naomi House hospice with his skydive 11 years ago and was an active member of the Portsmouth Parachute Regimental Association and The Royal British Legion, always participating in Remembrance parades and shows.

Daughter Jacqui, from Totton, told the Daily Echo: "They certainly broke the mould when they made Dad. He was quite a character and there's no one else like him."

  • Ben's funeral details will be published when available. 


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