Trams to Newhaven

— #04 Annfield

Overview Trams to Newhaven

Newhaven Trams Run Again From 2023

After almost 60 years absence, Edinburgh once more had a tram service in 2014.  After six years in construction in which the controversial scheme suffered from long delays and over-spending, the new Edinburgh Trams system finally began operation on 31 May of that year, albeit on a single route from York Place in the city centre, west along Princes Street to the Airport.  The extension from York Place to Newhaven is expected to be operational in 2023.  The Newhaven terminus is approximately in this area.

There was a horse-drawn coach service between Edinburgh and Leith from as early as 1610. The opening of the North Bridge in 1772 saw regular services between the Tron on Edinburgh’s High Street and the Shore in Leith.

4_9026 Horse-drawn tram of the North Edinburgh Tramways Company c1880. This route was from Goldenacre through Trinity to Newhaven - The Chain Pier

By the 1840s such as Newington, Morningside, and Stockbridge enjoyed public transport. In 1871, the Edinburgh public had a horse-drawn tram service as rails made the task of hauling passengers more easy.


3_6097 DR-PC 095 Two Trams at the foot of The Cut,, one a horse-drawn tram and the other one of the new electric vehicles which came into service in 1905. (Postcard courtesy of the Radcliffe Postcard Colection.)

Cable cars were introduced to Edinburgh in 1888. The City Fathers preferred cable to the overhead catenary system especially in Princes Street but it was old fashioned within 20 years. Leith, on the other hand, decided on using horse-drawn trams and eventually electric trams. Both systems ran until 1923 although the difference in width between rails meant that it was impossible to run a tram service from Edinburgh to Leith.  Until 1923 the public had to change trams at Pilrig — known as the Pilrig Muddle.

4_9017 Old postcard (C1905) with printed title "One of the new Leith Electric Cars — in Newhaven Road" (i.e outside Victoria Park). The Ratcliffe Postcard Collection

The corner of Newhaven Road and Stanley Road was particularly tight as trams approached the Newhaven terminus as shown in the Gallery at the top of this page.  The two roads had a set of tram rails both sides of the roads but, but through these corners only one set of rails. The trams would stop, switch the junction to get their tram onto the single set of rails around the corner and again once round the corner to get the tram back onto the correct side of the road again,  The single set of rails round each of the corner gave the tram the same widest turn whichever direction it was going.

Many of the trams were built in Shrubhill Works during the era of horse-drawn, cable or the early first electric cars.

Until 1915, conductors were male, of course. Female clippies became commonplace during the First World War.

Trams ran in Edinburgh until 1956.

4_9022 The foot of The Cut (Craighall Road) was the terminus for trams from Fairmilehead and South Edinburgh