In 1862 the Ryde Pier Company decided to build another pier alongside the existing one for a horse drawn tramway between the Esplanade and the Pier Head.
When the Shanklin to Ryde railway was built in 1863/64, the company could not obtain permission to lay the line beyond St. Johns, so the railway terminated there.
In 1871 the pier company opened a surface, horse drawn tramway would take passengers and their luggage from St Johns to the pier head. The tramway went along the side of Monkton Mead, through the house on the west side of Cornwall Street and along the Esplanade to the pier. It was unable to be routed along Cornwall Street because the Monkton Mead brook ran (and still does) through a culvert underneath and the surface was not considered strong enough.
The railway company later gained permission to extend the railway from St Johns to the Pier Head, which involved the building of the tunnel under the Strand and Esplanade. This extension was opened in 1880 and replaced the tramway from St John to the Esplanade.
The remaining tramway along Ryde Pier was electrified in 1881; in 1927 new trams were introduced powered by petrol engines, these were later replaced by diesel engines. The trams were withdrawn from service in January 1969. A surviving tram car was acquired by the Isle of Wight Steam Railway and is being (2020) restored for use on their tracks.