Edinburgh, where I live, has a tram system that opened a few years ago. It runs between the airport and the eastern side of the city centre, with plans to extend the line further north to the coast.
But until 1956, Edinburgh, much like other cities, had an extensive network of tram lines that ran far into the suburbs.
Old transport maps, such as Harry Beck's iconic 1931 London tube map, have always fascinated me. There's something wonderful about how they condense a complex network into an easy-to-read format that makes it possible to access the information you need quickly.
With that in mind, I decided to have a go at mapping Edinburgh's former tram network.
According to the website Granton History, the tram network in Edinburgh was at its most extensive around 1950, before the work of replacing trams with buses had started.
My first instinct was to treat each service as a 'line'. But, as you can see below, with 28 services, it all gets a bit much, especially on Princes Street between the West End and the old Post Office. It's also very hard to distinguish between the lines, even when using dashed colours for half of them and using a full range of rainbow colours.
Instead, I took inspiration from this 1924 map, which shows the whole tram network (which only had 24 lines then) in one colour, with a separate colour for bus services.
Another challenge was making the map resemble the geographic layout of the city without losing legibility around the city centre, which has a denser network of services and interchanges.
In the end, I used red lines to show the tram services, with numbers to show which services stopped where. Routes can be followed by joining up the appropriate number on the map. Train lines are shown in dark grey and bus services in light grey. Unfortunately, I could find very little information about bus routes around 1950, so these are taken from the 1924 map.
I made a panel to go alongside the map with useful route information and a legend. I also included some charming text I saw in the 1924 map about the hiring of charabancs. One interesting feature of the old trams was how they could be indentified at night – each tram vehicle had a vertically-stacked pair of coloured lights on the front. The combination and order of colours would tell passengers which tram was making its way towards them in the distance.
And, keeping with the Futura-led 20th century theme, I made a cover for the map when folded.
As a bonus, here's my depiction of a distant-future tram network building on Edinburgh's current tram line – although I'm not sure anyone who lives here would welcome the upheaval building such a system would bring!