On this day: The final night of Edinburgh’s tram network

The final night of the trams.
The final night of the trams.
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61 years ago this evening, thousands turned out to wave an emotional goodbye to the city’s original tram system before it was scrapped for good.

Thousands lined the street to bid farewell to the ‘last’ of the city’s electric tramcars.

The last tram entering Princes Street at the Mound, 1956.

The last tram entering Princes Street at the Mound, 1956.

And Edinburgh was not alone. Trams had been falling out of favour across Britain since the end of the Second World War.

Cities were expanding, and the rail-and-wire-bound trams of yesteryear could not compete with the flexibility and cost-­effectiveness of the modern motor bus.

As a result, Edinburgh’s tram network was decommissioned with the 47 mile track taking four years to be dismantled.

All ordinary tram passengers were issued with a bright yellow “Last Tram Week” ticket; a masterstroke by Edinburgh Corporation which did a “roaring trade” in the final seven days.

At the Mound and Hanover Street, an enormous crowd reaching 60 or 70 yards up the road gathered to wave goodbye to the last cars. Police, mounted and on foot, kept the mass of spectators from pressing against the vehicles.

Souvenir-hungry “boys and youths” armed with screwdrivers were reported aboard the final convoy, keen to secure their own little bit of history from the inside of the cabins.

From the earliest horse-drawn trams and cable cars of the turn of the century, to the electric system implemented in the 1920s, tramcars had been present in the Capital, in one form or another, for generations.

Eighty-five years of municipal tram history, which at its height had carried around 200 million passengers a year on routes covering Corstorphine to Levenhall, and just about everywhere in between, had been consigned for good to the great catenary wire in the sky... or so we all thought