Sunday, 18 August 2013

Edinburgh past captured on a 1938 bus and tram map

These images and map are for my lovely friend Alex, who has relocated to Edinburgh after an absence of nearly forty years. It was a brave thing to do and I miss her. Some people get under your skin and make it prickle at the thought of them. There are two or three such people in my life and I am lucky enough to be married to the woman who introduced me to feeling really good about other people.

I begin, though, with a pic of me from 1952, outside the entrance to Edinburgh Castle, when I was on holiday in Scotland, staying with my step-father's family in Port Dundas, Glasgow, in a tenement block, with a shared toilet on the landing and beds set into the walls (or so it seemed to me at the time) of the second floor apartment. I never called Jimmy 'Dad'. He came into my life too late for that, but he was an OK guy and our relationship got better over the years and I cried when in died in 2008 — which is more than I did for my mother who died eighteen months earlier. This is a story for my My Wembley blog about my childhood, so I'll say no more.

In 1952 I rode on an Edinburgh tram for the first time and managed a couple of more visits before they disappeared completely in the mid-1950s. Add this to my interest in public transport (especially buses and trolleybuses), then you might understand why I snapped up a bargain on e-Bay recently — a 1938 Edinburgh bus and tram map, showing routes on a huge map — which I am sending to Alex in the next day or two.

For now, just some images to whet Alex's appetite, for she is a rare woman in my world. She likes buses and bus maps, so she actually likes me a bit because I like them too. You can see why she is a very special person.

One side of the map is full of adverts like this.

Here is another one.

Part of the map which fills one side, with different colours for bus and tram routes. After seventy-five years a lot has changed.

The map also includes an inset map showing Edinburgh City Centre c.1938 and I know Alex will be great at finding what is still extant. It even shows the roads with trams. The new tram route which has been under construction for years will never match the city's tram network which operated until 1956. For all the skills we have in 2013, we cannot match the public enterprise and vision of those who led our communities in the days before corporate capitalism set out to destroy everything public, with the support of politicians we are stupid enough to elect.

Well, the end of this quick posting and another rant from me against a system I hate. I'm off now to have a late tea.

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