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Edinburgh Live

Striking colour footage shows Edinburgh's last trams on the move in the 1950s

A video has appeared online that shows a time when Edinburgh's tram network covered the entire city.

Captured in the mid-1950s, just prior to the scrapping of the capital's original tramways, the rare colour clip, which has been uploaded to YouTube, shows double-decker tramcars trundling between Colinton Road past Redford Barracks on their way to Colinton Village in southwest Edinburgh.

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The trams, which were operated by the Edinburgh Corporation, are dressed in a madder and white livery that is still used today for Lothian Buses' fleet.

Tram service No10 - a number that has also been preserved for the city's modern buses - is seen in the footage. The route of this service ran all the way from Granton to Colinton Village, covering a distance of around 7 miles.

Commenting on the YouTube footage, Ian Boyter recalled: "I remember, as a child, cycling down the road towards Colinton village with a tram coming up behind me and having to dismount to let it past safely. The tracks were very close to the kerb."

The footage is from a two-hour documentary titled The Demise of the Edinburgh Tram, which charts the last days of the city's original tram network.

The removal of trams in Edinburgh was mirrored through the UK in the years after the end of the Second World War.

Towns and cities were expanding in the post-war era, and Edinburgh was no different. The prospect of extending tramlines in these austere times was simply unfeasible, and, by the 1950s, the flexibility that motorbuses could offer was seen as the future over the rail-bound trams.

In line with measures elsewhere, Edinburgh Corporation began to gradually dismantle the city's tramways in the 1950s. One by one, services were removed, while the production of new tramcars ground to a halt at Shrubhill works, where so many of Edinburgh trams were built.

In just four short years between 1952 and 1956, all 47 route miles of Edinburgh's sprawling tram network, which ran from Corstorphine in the west and as far as Port Seton in the east, was decommissioned.

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The final day of the Edinburgh trams came on November 16, 1956. Huge crowds descended on the Mound and Princes Street to witness the passing of a special procession of tramcars.

Only one of Edinburgh's electric tram fleet, tramcar No35, which was built at Shrubhill in 1948, has survived. After a period ferrying passengers along Blackpool Promenade, the tram is now on permanent static display at Crich Tramway Museum in Derbyshire.

In 2014, trams returned to the capital's streets for the first time in nearly 60 years. However, the current 8.7 mile-long line between Edinburgh Airport and York Place has some way to go to emulate the extent of the original system.