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Shrubhill Tram Depot, Edinburgh

Opened in 1898, the Shrubhill Tramway Workshops and Power Station was part of the cable-tram system in the city. Abandoned for many years, it has now been developed for high-quality and affordable housing.

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Dryden Street, Edinburgh

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About Shrubhill Tram Depot, Edinburgh

Opened in 1898, the Shrubhill Tramway Workshops and Power Station in Shrub Hill was part of the cable-tram system in the city being rolled out by Edinburgh and District Tramways, who had taken over the horse-drawn lines of Edinburgh Street Tramways. The site had previously housed stables for the horse-drawn trams. The depot was a tall 8-bay, 1-storey and basement ashlar block, 3 wide single-storey bays, and a single-storey, 4-bay rubble block with round-headed windows and 8 circular windows, but it was the octagonal brick chimney that really caught the eye. The power station accompanying the depot housed the haulage engines for cable-tramway operations.

Edinburgh trams converted from cable to overhead wire in 1926, bringing them into line with nearby Leith, and the last tram ran thirty years later (until their return in 2014). The works became a bus depot for the Corporation, and later with its successor, Lothian Region Transport. After closure as a bus depot, it briefly became a museum and - like any other good abandoned building in Edinburgh - a Festival Fringe venue.  By 2011, the once splendid buildings had fallen into disrepair and it was added to Historic Environment Scotland's Buildings at Risk Register. Now however it is being incorporated in the adjoining Engine Yard development, which Cooper Cromar architects say will preserve as much of it as possible: "By integrating many and varied historical elements into the new development, including an existing ‘B’ listed chimney, boundary walls and tram depot, we were able to create a true sense of place and maintain the site’s ornate industrial character."

Two of the huge wheels that carried the cables are displayed in Iona Street as public art. They were discovered buried during recent excavations to prepare for the work on the new tram extension and have been saved by the City of Edinburgh Council. See: Turning back time with Edinburgh's giant Victorian tram wheels - The Scotsman

Pilrig Muddle interpretation

The Red Wheel Plaque was unveiled on 7th August 2023 by Cambell Reid of developer Places for People Developments Ltd, John Cameron CBE, retired railwayman Jim Summers and Robyn Clift also of the developer (whose official opening is on 25 August)

At the unveiling NTT Vice President John Cameron CBE said "I am delighted that the successful Trams to Newhaven project is associated with a rekindling of interest in Edinburgh's tram heritage. As a depot and later a power station, Shrubhill served the city through the eras of horse, cable and electric tram into the time of bus supremacy, becoming for a period a museum for the electric tram today to be found at Crich. Now the new tram line gives this area exceptional connectivity, so it's wonderful that this location is supporting a new community that through its name The Engine Yard and this Red Wheel will be ever mindful of its inheritance."

Photos: John Yellowlees; John Lawson; Places for People - with thanks

Unveiling party

Unveiling party

Unveiling party



The former tram depot faces onto Dryden Street. From the Balfour Street tram stop, walk south west along Leith Walk turning right into Pilrig Street. Turn left in Dryden Street.


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A Nostalgic Look at Edinburgh Trams since 1950, Graham H E Twidale, Silver Link Publishing Ltd (1989)

National Transport Trust, Old Bank House, 26 Station Approach, Hinchley Wood, Esher, Surrey KT10 0SR