Edinburgh Leith Walk: Artist's impression reveals new layout of pedestrianised Leith Walk junction
and live on Freeview channel 276
An artist’s impression shared with the Evening News reveals what the corner of a route off Leith Walk will look like ahead of the tram extension becoming operational later in the year. Iona Street, which previously allowed one-way traffic travelling from east to west, will become permanently pedestrianised with the revamp expected to be completed in the coming months.
It comes as the City of Edinburgh Council announced plans to showcase a pair of historic tram wheels at the former junction along with other features to enhance the streetscape. The wheels, that date back to 1898, were discovered near Pilrig Street in August 2021 during excavation works for the tram project and have since been restored before they go on public display later this year.
Drawings produced by engineering firm, Aitkins, show plans for the 2.6m long Victorian-era to become the centrepiece at the recently pedestrianised west end of Iona Street which is expected to be completed in the coming months. The image depicts the 125-year-old wheels standing vertically in a steel frame with sandstone plinths to match the local architecture. Displaying the wheels side by side will reflect how the original mechanism operated before it was decommissioned in 1922.
The wheels, that were buried underground for nearly 100 years will be accompanied by an information board, cycle parking and benches. The trees that are already in place will remain in situ. Council archaeologist, John Lawson, said displaying the artefacts will ‘provide a fascinating link between the old and new tram systems’ and Leith Walk councillor, Jack Caldwell said the new public art sculpture will allow ‘future generations to learn about the area’s history.’
The Trams to Newhaven Project has seen several changes for pedestrians and drivers on Leith Walk, including the installation of continuous footways – pavements that remain unchanged in their design as they extend across side streets – and introduction of traffic orders that ban left-hand-turns – most controversially in London Road. Continuous footways have been installed on Lorne Street and Dalmeny Street, with left-hand-turns implements on Brunswick Road and London Road. Iona Street, which allowed one-way traffic moving from east to west prior to tram project has been closed off at its west end along with Montgomery Street. Brunswick Street will remain temporarily closed ‘until further notice’ and Albert Street remains closed due to works carried out by Scottish Water.
Councillor Scott Arthur, Transport and Environment Convener, said: “Leith Walk’s layout was developed as part of a detailed design process, including extensive consultation with local residents and businesses. This allowed the project team to produce an updated set of plans in 2018 that reflected the aspirations of the local community.”
Cllr Arthur added: “Changes to traffic movement, including the closure of Iona Street and the banned left turn onto London Road, have helped prioritize public transport and enhance public spaces.”