The rise and fall of Dundee’s iconic tram era


Dundee looked very different when streetcars ruled the roads and operated the city for almost eight decades.

Dundee and District Tramways horse-drawn vehicles were introduced in 1877.

Horse-drawn trams had to be small and light enough to be pulled with a full complement of passengers, and seating capacity was usually limited to between 20 and 30, even on double-decker cars.

A horse-drawn tram in Dundee.

Even then, additional horses were normally required for all hilly sections of the track, while steeper slopes were normally excluded altogether.

Most of the streetcars were made by the Birkenhead Company of Milnes, although there is a local coachbuilder in Small’s Wynd.

Less than 10 years later, streetcars were steaming and by the end of 1902 electricity was king, having killed an unfortunate experience with uncomfortable trolleybuses.

Steam trams like locomotives with trailers to accommodate passengers have taken over.

Over the decades, the streetcar lines were extended to keep pace with the city’s expansion, and the height of the network came in the 1930s, when 79 streetcars were in service.

The trams were all two-tier, four-wheeled and painted in a green and cream livery and the lines reached Broughty Ferry and Monifieth.

According to a six-cent booklet published in 1936, the city’s streetcars were “beautiful, electrically powered, electrically powered luxury cars that we can now enjoy with such ample accommodation both inside and in the living room. above, where you can smoke in comfort ”.

Workers laid streetcar lines on Lindsay Street in 1937.

Throughout the two world wars, streetcars took people to work, to shops, to football.

The trams were packed to the guns.

You had people standing and hanging at the end.

A view of Steeple Church and St Mary’s Church, Nethergate, Dundee with a tram and bus around the corner in 1953.

The streetcars had a small box for uncollected fares.

The Lochee tram route was one of the most interesting, partly because it was so hilly and partly because of the characters who walked the route or drove the trams.

This route, from Reform Street, via Ward Road and Lochee Road to Lochee High Street, was three kilometers long.

An accident involving a streetcar on the Perth road in the early 1950s

The drivers had 18 minutes to get there and 14 minutes back.

Late at night, however, when there were no inspectors around, some of the drivers gave up and speeds of 45 miles per hour in front of Dudhope Park were reached.

One of the pilots was nicknamed the Flying Scotsman!

Photograph looking at Dens Road from the foot of Main Street in 1953.

The Dundee Corporation streetcars didn’t let them deteriorate like other companies did and they kept the fleet going until the 1950s.

But by then they were starting to age and their network of lines had grown too big for the developing city.

A study by transport consultant Colonel R McCreary showed that the cost of streetcars relative to bus service was 26.700 and 21.204 pence per mile, respectively, and that 95% of daily passengers preferred buses.

A streetcar on Blackness Road in 1955.

As a result, he advocated abandoning the tram system.

The last tram ran from Maryfield to Lochee in October 1956.

He was supposed to leave the city center before midnight, but he was delayed for over an hour on his way to Lochee by the crowds who came to see him.

The last tram in Dundee has been watched by thousands of people.

More than 5,000 people attended Car # 23’s last trip, accompanied by moving accents of We’re No Awa ‘Tae Bide Awa’ and Will Ye No Come Back Again.

Armed with little more than an occasional penknife, they tore, torn, pulled and carved the interior of the streetcar in their frantic search for a memory.

They could hardly be called vandals, for no sooner had the streetcars completed their last runs than they were piled up and burned, without tears or ceremony, in a field in Marchbanks.

Large crowds see the last tram coming out of Maryfield Depot.

In fact, you could say that without these highly motivated strippers, there would be even fewer today to remind us of the days of the streetcar.

Pilot David Bates was more of a philosopher: “Well, that’s it.

“Ready to start in the morning bus driving school.”

Streetcar lines are torn apart in Lochee High Street at the end of the city’s streetcar era.

Could they ever come back?

Proposals to bring the trams back to the streets of Dundee as part of the £ 1billion waterfront project were submitted to the heads of the council in 2003.

However, then director of urban development Mike Galloway denied the plans, pointing out that Dundee’s compact city center was already well served by bus networks.

Nostalgia for streetcars may have grown over the years, but they’re unlikely to ever be seen anywhere other than in the city’s Transport Museum.

The cobblestones and streetcar lines are still visible in 1958, as is the # 26 Kirkton bus turning into Dens Road.

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