Liverpool’s Trams Old and New
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Everton FC’s controversial plans to move to a new stadium in Kirkby are strengthening the case for “line one”, the non-capitalised tram scheme from Liverpool city centre to the outskirts. This follows claims in mid-April that Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly was ready to approve the £328m transport link.
Of course, trams are nothing new in Liverpool, which can trace their history back to 1869, and the 16 horse-drawn trams which were brought into use then. The service stopped on August 14th, 1957, when Liverpool discarded the trams in favour of buses. The network left behind many remnants embedded in the towns fabric, from the central reservations of the suburbs to the cobbles under the tarmac of the city centre streets.
Another thing which stands in favour of recreating the tram system shapes the very city we see today. As I mentioned, many of the wide boulevards which snake through the suburbs, such as Edge Lane, Muirhead Avenue and Queen’s Drive. Hidden under the grass the tracks no doubt still lie there. Of course it wouldn’t make sense to try to re-use the rusty metal, but the long curves of the roads themselves lend well to the three or four carriages which modern tramways like those in Sheffield and Manchester. In fact, if you look at a map of Liverpool, you can see how the tramways of the last century, and the routes people took into work – the financiers, traders and sailors – had an influence on the growth and development – the very shape – of the city in its boom era.
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