Edinburgh Corporation Tramcars
Edinburgh relied on cable trams until the early 1920s. Cars were built by Brown Marshall and Electric Railway & Tramway Carriage Works Ltd. Some were also home-built.
This is one of a batch numbered 129-136 manufactured by the Metropolitan Carriage Co. and is seen at Comely Bank.
From 1910 a short length of tramway from Ardmillan Terrace along Slateford Road was operated by four former cable cars electrified for the purpose. One of them was No.64.
The last cable trams ran in Edinburgh in 1923 and a program of reconstructing cable cars for electric operation was put in hand as can be seen here. The amount of work on some was quite substantial.
The finished result of these conversions can be seen here. For around ten years, new top covers added to the former cable cars were recycled and fitted to new lower saloons. No.192 was originally built by Brown Marshall.
As former cable cars were scrapped and any re-usable equipment salvaged, new cars took up their numbers resulting in an apparently haphazard numbering system. The last ex-cable cars ran in 1947 and No.37 was a home-built example seen here operating during World War II on snow-ploughing duties.
The newest ex-cable cars were those built by the Electric Railway & Tramway Carriage Company of Preston and they tended to last longest. No.226 was rescued and awaits major restoration. Here is sister car 215 on The Mound with Princes Street and the Scott Monument in the background.
1924-built No.321 is typical of the new electric cars, seen here at Gorgie. Early construction featured narrow doors under the stairs and open balconies were retained until the early 1930s when all cars were totally enclosed.
The livery was gradually simplified although in pre-war years more white was incorporated. No.129 shows the appearance of a former open-balcony car with the upper deck enclosed. This is Newington Station in 1934.
No.92 shows the latter-day simplified livery applied to all cars of all types. Service 2 was one of two that avoided Princes Street by running along George Street, being withdrawn on 13th December 1952.
The last of the wood Standard cars to be built were totally enclosed from the start and had no upper deck bulkheads. Typical is No.167. The simplified vestibule can be seen.
No.107 was similar to 167 and the strapping around the upper deck front paneling is a tell-tale feature of this type of tram.
Edinburgh had a number of well-known experimental trams but the most famous (and long-lasting) was No.180 costing £4,000 in 1932 and nick-named “Red Biddy” in view of its original striking red and grey livery as seen here. Many features were later incorporated into the Standard cars that would emerge from the Shrubhill Works from 1934 until 1950.
Less well-known was No.261 which was really a development of the last type of wood Standard cars but with raked upper deck windows and flush sides permitting two and two transverse seats in the lower deck.
Steel car No.265 was similar to 180 but was built by Metro Cammell in 1933. They incorporated flat corner panelling.
No.239 was supplied by Hurst Nelson in 1934. Another steel framed car, it bore a close resemblance to the forthcoming Shrubhill Standard cars.
No.249 was another Metro Cammell product, arriving in May 1934. It was similar to No.265 but improved with domed roof. This car ran with platform doors for a time when new.
No.69 was the prototype of a fleet of 84 domed roof Standard cars. This type lasted until the end of the first generation Edinburgh tramways in 1956.
This picture is still to be entered
Here are two of the later domed roofs Standards in Princes Street. These incorporated ventilators in the roof domes and smaller opening side windows. No.35 of this type survives at the National Tramway Museum at Crich.
Concurrently with the early build of domed roof Standard cars, twenty “streamlined” cars with sloping ends were placed in service. These were supplied by three different builders and No.15 – in original condition, was a Hurst Nelson example, photographed at Fairmilehead.
Close examination of each manufacturer’s product confirms detailed differences, although basically very similar. No.23 was supplied by English Electric.
The most obviously different from the other manufacturers were those supplied by Metro Cammell, with their corner number screens and centrally located colour-light indicators.
There was a shortage of trams post World War II and Edinburgh resorted to purchasing eleven second-hand cars from Manchester. These were refurbished and painted in Edinburgh’s standard livery bearing an uncanny resemblance to home-produced trams. They were confined to the Post Office – Portobello and Levenhall services. This is 405 at the Post Office.
No.402 is not in service but displays the lines of these cars well. They did not last beyond 1954, having been found to be in relatively poor condition.
Text by Ian Stewart
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