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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Trams to Dalkey

John Woodman

Once upon a time Dublin's exemplary tramway system included a lengthy line running to the exclusive suburb of Dalkey from O'Connell Street. The wide gauge network saw both 2 axle and 4 axle trams traversing the city's streets in profusion with more modern styled designs appearing during the 1930s - although nothing approaching Blackpool's streamline fleet. Following the coastline akin to the Fleetwood line, Dalkey cars terminated in the narrow streets of that quiet neighborhood. A depot was built almost at the end of the line with a single track connection gaining access inbetween a narrow passageway inbetween buildings.

Surprisingly the entire depot building, together with much of its track fan remained intact when I visited two years ago. Normally closed to public access I was fortunate in my visit to encounter workmen involved in painting parts of the site following a recent change in ownership - and 'nodded in' to the property with an informal welcome. Apparently Dalkey Depot had experienced various changes in usage since its closure in 1949 when the Dublin system gave way finally to Leyland buses. A cafe and theatre as well as arts classes apparently being tenants in parts of the extensive structure. Whilst the depot yard and access tram track was clearly visible, all of the interior space had been concreted over. Nonetheless the building's origins and purpose were all too evident with local concern over eventual preservation of their 'depot' being apparent during discussions I had in the nearby heritage museum.

Below : Badly fading wall art of early Dublin United tramcar at entrance to Dalkey Depot site - with closeup of the Company Garter as applied to a 'restored' example of the tram to be see in the Howth Castle collection. Actually a rebuilt ex London County Council trailer car found in Ireland!

It is ironic that elsewhere in the vicinity of Dublin - at Howth, there is a tightly squeezed collection of buses, trams and vehicles of various kinds in a barnlike structure in the grounds of Howth Castle. This solitary transport museum in the Republic is run by volunteers with little in the way of public sector funding - but at least the benefit of covered accommodation for a varied collection of historic transport vehicles. This contrasts ill with the excellent comparable transport museum in the north of Ireland at Cultra outside Belfast, which gains official support from various Northern Ireland institutions. Like the Howth collection, Cultra museum also includes a Hill of Howth tramcar among its various preserved trams and railway equipment.

It is hoped that the Dalkey Tram Depot site may evolve into a professionally managed heritage transport attraction that utilises the original structure and impressive track fan access (to wide gauge of course). Given that Ireland was of course a part of the United Kingdom at the time the depot (and tramway) was constructed this impressive structural relic certainly deserves a place in comparable listings of extant tramway infrastructure features from the previous century.


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