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Modern Times: 1950s to The Present Day

Trade and Communications


By Ronald Brash

Trams at Auchenshuggle The twelve years from 1950 to 1962 witnessed the decline and closure of the once impressive and seemingly imperishable Glasgow tramways. In 1949 trolley buses, the only such vehicles to operate in a Scottish city, had begun to replace tramways on four routes, although future conversion of tram routes was to be in favour of buses. Nevertheless, in 1954, a final batch of six "Coronations" was built at Coplawhill and forty-six reasonably modern trams, running on bogies designed to negotiate tight bends and corners, were purchased from Liverpool which was then in the process of abandoning its extensive tramways. These were the only second-hand cars ever to run in Glasgow apart from those acquired from Paisley and Airdrie when Glasgow had absorbed these undertakings in 1922-23.

Last Trams Parade In 1956 it was decided to reduce and ultimately abandon the entire tram system. Initially, with a few exceptions such as the routes to Clydebank and Dalmuir, all services were cut back to the city boundary thus relieving the Corporation of road maintenance costs outside its own limits. This affected the long, inter-urban services to Barrhead, Paisley, Renfrew, Milngavie, Coatbridge and Airdrie. A further factor was the impending electrification of some of the most heavily patronised district railways. Over the following six years buses replaced the trams on the remaining routes, the final one from Auchenshuggle in the east end of the city to Clydebank and Dalmuir closing on 1 September 1962. Four days later a spectacular procession of trams, representing all types of car from an original horse-drawn tram to the latest "Coronation", passed through the city centre, the streets lined with crowds paying their last respects to the trams they had known and loved so well.

Museum of Transport Fortunately several cars have been preserved, including six at the Glasgow Museum of Transport at Kelvin Hall, and six at the National Tramway Museum at Crich, near Derby, where they operate on a mile of track. In 1988 three of these returned to Glasgow to carry passengers once again on a one kilometre route at the Glasgow Garden Festival, a memorable swan-song to a once great transport system.

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