Forgotten tram tracks in Leeds city centre exposed by roadworks

Roadworks have revealed a fascinating insight into Leeds' past.

Tuesday, 19th March 2019, 11:52 am
Updated Tuesday, 19th March 2019, 11:58 am
Old tram rails have been revealed during roadworks near Leeds Bus Station

Excavations beneath the road surface near Leeds Bus Station have exposed old tram tracks that once ran through the city.

Meet the 'tram trackers' who discover the history of tramways in LeedsGareth Beevers took these photos of the long-buried, rusting rails at the junction of York Street and Duke Street.

It's not the first time the old tramways have resurfaced during modern groundwork.

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The tracks are now hidden beneath the modern road surface

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.

In 2017, excavation work by Northern Gas Networks unearthed 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.

Rusted rails have been revealed at various points across the old tram network during groundworks

There are examples of old tram infrastructure than can still be seen around Leeds, including electrical boxes and signage. An old substation used to power the tram network can be seen on Abbey Road in Hawksworth.

Although it's commonly believed that old 'tram poles' used to power the vehicles can be seen near the Roundhay Park terminus, there are actually former lighting stands for the bus park.