Sunday, October 31, 2010

Streetcar Sunday - Edinburgh, Scotland

In many ways, Edinburgh's tram system was similar to systems in other cities. The city started out with horse-drawn cars in 1871. But then, instead of switching to electric overhead wires, they switched to a cable-drawn system. There were other cities around the world that did this, but few had them for very long. It wasn't until the 1922 that the cable system in Edinburgh was switched over to an electric traction system. Here are several pictures from the James Valentine views that I introduced last week. You can see the line between the tracks, indicating the location of the cable (and later the electric traction.)

I wish we could see the trams more clearly, but we can certainly see that they're double deck and open on the top. Another striking feature in this photo is the North British Station Hotel with the gardens in front. Yes, there's a railway station under those gardens (Waverley Station.)  It's such an elegant design approach. Here's another view looking out from the hotel.

The Hotel is now known as the Balmoral Hotel. According to Wikipedia, JK Rowling finished the last book in her Harry Potter series at the hotel. She lost her deposit and was sent a bill,  because she commemorated the occasion by writing in black marker pen on a marble bust of Hermes in her room: "JK Rowling finished writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in this room (552) on 11th Jan 2007".

Anyway, back to the trams. The Edinburgh electric trams continued to operate until they were replaced with buses in 1956. Fast forward to 2007, when work began on bringing trams back to Edinburgh with a system that would link Leith with Edinburgh City and the airport. The project was scheduled for completion in 2011, but has been plagued by problems including delays and cost overruns. The snarled traffic and loss of revenue to local businesses has made the project fairly unpopular even among former supporters.  For more information on current happenings surrounding the Edinburgh tram system, visit Trams Stop Here!

And here's another view from this series showing a tram in Edinburgh.


  1. That's too bad about the cost overruns and delays. A worthy project to get trams back in service. I can't believe JK Rowling did that! Harry Potter is a fun read, but geez, defacing a marble bust to commemorate the last book? Sounds like she takes her press clips to heart.

  2. More fine views of an enticing city, love the idea of building gardens on top of the train station, it is a win-win design concept: Maintain the great glass roof over the train shed typical of that era, but omit the bulk at street level and provide a pedestrian/urban amenity- nice! Glad to know Rowling doesn't think too highly of herself... she has more than a few extra bucks on hand to have just bought the bust from the hotel to begin with, sign it, then leave it in the room as a tourist draw for the hotel and additional marketing for herself.

  3. Very cool information. I am fascinated - a little obsessed - with Scotland.

  4. That hotel is a real pile! Jack/Youngstown



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