The first generation Edinburgh Trams finished in 1956 with the new Trams commencing service in 2014.
This article looks at an ambitious scheme for a heritage line in Edinburgh proposed The City of Edinburgh Council in 2000.
Edinburgh’s 1957 Tram
By Chris O'Brien
12th July 2014
With the last of the first generation trams to run in the streets of Edinburgh in 1956, it is interesting to discover that Edinburgh once owned a 1957 Tram.
In the year 2000, The City of Edinburgh Council considered installing a tourist tram line running along George Street with the route turning at both ends using St. Andrew Square and Charlotte Square. The intention was to have island platforms, with single ended cars, and utilising Lothian Buses Central Garage, or Russell Road where the Council had storage yards, as a possible place for the depot. Thoughts of extending the line down the Royal Mile to the new Scottish Parliament building were also considered.
At this time Edinburgh preserved tram number 35 was owned by Lothian Regional Council, stored at the National Tramway Museum in Derbyshire, which could also be used on the heritage line, and Edinburgh 226 was undergoing restoration at Lothian Buses Central Garage off Leith Walk.
As more than two older Edinburgh trams would be insufficient to provide the service, a suggestion was made to contact Munich in Germany, Edinburgh’s first twin town from 1954. The authorities in Munich were glad to be able to assist and offered tram 2443 with trailer 3408, which was readily accepted. Both of these vehicles were originally built by Rathgeber in Munich in 1957. 2443 is a Series M 4.65 tram which ran with a capacity of 28 seated and 77 standing; trailer 3408 ran with a capacity of 32 seated and 69 standing. Both tram and trailer were fully renovated by the Munich tram works, the Munich Verkehrsgesellschaft (MVG), before being handed over to Edinburgh Council.
Despite the seriousness of the early proposal, it was decided after feasibility studies that the costs to install the track work and have the Munich tram and trailer transported to Edinburgh were too great. The tram and trailer were given back to Munich.
Munich tram 2443 continues life after going on display in the Deutches Museum in Munich in 2001, and the trailer 3408 is in service with the Hannover Tram Museum, Hannoversches Strassenbahn Museum. Edinburgh Tram 35 was later donated to the National Tramway Museum in Derbyshire where it is on static display; and Tram 226 is awaiting further restoration work, which is likely to see it restored as a former cable car.
One can only wonder at what tourists in Edinburgh would have made of taking a German Tram from the castle down the Royal Mile to the Scottish Parliament?
Tram 2443 which is now on display at the Deutches Museum. Photographs above and below courtesy of the Deutches Museum - Munich.
Two photographs showing the City of Edinburgh and Munich crests on the tram and trailor.
An early 1920s view of George Street looking towards Charlotte Square.
Click here to read about Edinburgh's 1884 Electric Tram
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