Edinburgh Corporation Tramways

Edinburgh Corporation Tramways

Edinburgh Corporation Tramways formerly served the City of Edinburgh, Scotland. The city used four-wheeled double-decked trams painted dark red (madder) and white - a livery still used by Lothian Buses.


The first trams in Edinburgh were horse-drawn and operated by the Edinburgh Street Tramways Company. The inaugural service (Haymarket to Bernard Street) ran on 6 November 1871. In January 1888 the Edinburgh Northern Tramways started the first cable-hauled trams. In 1894 the EST lines in Edinburgh (but not Leith or Portobello) were taken over by the Edinburgh & District Tramways Company. On 1 July 1919 Edinburgh Corporation took over the operation of the city's tramways. [Gavin Booth, Edinburgh's Trams & Buses, 1988, page 64, ISBN 0 946265 09 7]

Leith Corporation took over the Leith tramlines in 1904 and introduced electric traction in 1905. Edinburgh Corporation took over the Leith system in 1920 (see below).


Until 1920 Leith was a separate burgh, with its own municipal tram system. The Leith system was electrified, whereas the Edinburgh system used cable haulage (as still used by the San Francisco cable car system and the Great Orme Tramway in Wales). The cable was housed in a shallow trough between the tram rails; breakages could reduce the entire system to a standstill. Passengers had to change trams at Pilrig in Leith Walk at the former boundary between Leith and Edinburgh. [G. Booth, ibid, page 4]

In 1922 Edinburgh Corporation decided to convert the entire system to electric traction. The last cable tram operated in June 1923. [G. Booth, ibid, page 4] A short section of cable track can still be seen in Waterloo Place. [G. Booth, ibid, page 6]

Musselburgh also had its own electrified tram system from 1904. Passengers had to change to the cable-hauled Edinburgh trams at Joppa until 1923. The Musselburgh system was subsequently incorporated into the Edinburgh system, with the tramway to Port Seton closing east of Levenhall in 1928. Musselburgh continued to be served by Edinburgh trams until 1954. [G. Booth, ibid, page 52]


The system continued to expand during the 1930s. New routes included Gorgie to Stenhouse (1930), Braids to Fairmilehead (1936) and North Gyle to Maybury (1937). Further extensions were curtailed due to the outbreak of World War II. [G. Booth, ibid, page 4]


Edinburgh Corporation introduced its first motor bus in 1914. In 1928, given the increasing importance of buses, the Edinburgh Corporation Tramways Department was renamed the Edinburgh Corporation "Transport" Department. [G. Booth, ibid, page 64]

Following World War II, all municipal tramways in the United Kingdom (with the sole exception of the Blackpool tramway) were progressively closed and replaced by diesel buses.

Initially, Edinburgh Corporation took advantage of the closure of other systems to buy displaced, modern, secondhand trams - notably from Manchester. Nevertheless, a programme of replacement of trams by buses was introduced in the early 1950s. Edinburgh's last tram operated on 16 November 1956. One tramcar has been preserved (number 35, built in 1948).

New line

A new tram line from Edinburgh Airport to Newhaven is expected to open in 2011.

ee also

*National Tramway Museum
*Scottish Tramway and Transport Society

External links

* [http://www.scottishtransport.org/edinburgh_trams Edinburgh trams (on the STTS website)]


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