Headingley burst water main reveals forgotten tramway beneath Otley Road

An old tram rail can be seen inside the sinkhole (Steve Thackray)
An old tram rail can be seen inside the sinkhole (Steve Thackray)
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The large sinkhole that appeared in Headingley this week has uncovered a fascinating glimpse into the city's past.

A burst water main underneath Otley Road has caused significant damage to the road surface, and Yorkshire Water have closed the route for two days while emergency repairs take place.

Otley Road was once a main tram route (David Hudson)

Otley Road was once a main tram route (David Hudson)

Photos show the size of the Headingley sinkhole

But photos of the hole show that it has exposed rusted rails dating from the period when Leeds had a busy operational tram network.

Excavation works reveal forgotten Chapeltown Road tramway

Otley Road was one of the main tram routes into the city, and the service to the Original Oak was the first to open in Victorian Leeds. There was also a tram depot at Far Headingley.

After the entire network was shut in 1959, many of the tracks remained in place, but were built over with modern highways.

Last year, excavation work by Northern Gas Networks revealed the remains of tram rails on Chapeltown Road. They had once been part of a 'spur' track that ran from Harehills Avenue to Reginald Terrace. The branch line had been an extension of the main route to Moortown and Roundhay, but closed several decades before the whole network did - possibly as early as the 1920s.

Photo: Steve Thackray