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Newhaven - #11 Tram Terminus

by Gordon Young

Two years after I was born, my family moved, in 1951, from Ramsay Square to a larger house at Newhaven Road. However we kept close contact with the village since my father worked for Wm. Muirhead’s in the Fishmarket and we worshipped in the Newhaven-on-Forth Church.  Travel between home and Newhaven was easy since there was a stop very near to where we lived and the terminus was at the foot of the Cut serviced by the No. 11 route, firstly by tram and then, around 1956, by bus.

Cautiously hedging my bets, I may have gone to church and Sunday School in Newhaven Church but I also went to the Cubs in St Andrew’s Church.  Even as young as 7 I was allowed to go to the cubs on my own.  It would most probably not happen now for parents are now much more wary of letting young children go anywhere unsupervised; perhaps it was an Age of Innocence, perhaps it was that Newhaven was held to be a safe environment — whatever the reason, any protectiveness my parents felt for me was suppressed and I’m grateful for it.

“Tuppence up, tuppence down and tuppence for the collection” was my mantra on a Tuesday evening to my Dad as I made ready for the journey to the 6th Newhaven Cubs.  So armed with my tanner, I would cross the busy road (it’s a relative thing) at Bonnington Toll to the tram stop and then climb upstairs when the No. 11 arrived.  At least one of my friends would join me before journey’s end.  At the terminus at the foot of Craighall Road opposite Newhaven-on-Forth Church, the tram crew of driver and conductor would have rest time before preparing the vehicle for the return journey to Fairmilehead. This consisted of changing the destination display at the front and back of the tram by winding a scroll until it showed the correct name and swinging the hinged backs of the seats so that they permitted the passenger to face the direction of travel.  Frequently, the conductor would allow my fellow Cubs and I to attend the seats upstairs — to my utter pleasure which, strangely, I still relish to this day — whilst he looked after the downstair benches . Bump!  Bump! Bump!  they would go and my pals and I would look backwards at our task with satisfaction to see that we had done the job well before going down the stairs and off to the cubs.  

Of course, at the end of the evening, we would hope that the tram would not yet have arrived before we set off home so that we could repeat the exercise.  Simple pleasures!  Halcyon days!  

This particular weekly task lasted less than a year for me but, fifty-five years on, it is still a memory that brings a smile to my inner self.  It was such a crushing disappointment when we discovered that buses had none of this sophisticated seating arrangements because they could actually turn round.