Old tram depot set to be the permanent home of Dundee Transport Museum

The Maryland tram depot in 1956

It is one of Dundee’s last nods to a busy tram network.

And it is soon to become the permanent home of the Dundee Transport Museum, with work set to begin next year on the redevelopment.

The Maryfield Tram Depot, on Forfar Road, played a pivotal role in maintaining Dundee’s transport infrastructure during the first half of the 20th Century.

Alan Brotchie, a transport historian, explained the depot was built to house trams as the city network increased in size.

Crowds gather to get on the last tram from the depot
Crowds gather to get on the last tram from the depot

He said: “It wasn’t the first depot built in the city — that was at the bottom of Lochee Road.

“But as the tramways increased, the Maryfield depot was built to store the increasing number of trams which were being used.

“It was essentially a place for keeping trams, and as the network increased the city had around 90 trams in operation.

“Maryfield would have employed around 200 to 300 people in its heyday.”

He said that it was the ideal place for a transport museum.

Alan said: “There is still quite an aura about the building and if you have a look around inside, really everything is still there except the trams. There are a lot of original features still there so it has a lot of prominence, making it an excellent place for the transport museum.”

The single-storey, brick built building first received trams on March 6 1901.

It continued to act as the main hub until 1956, before becoming the Dundee Corporation’s store for its fleet of diesel buses in the 1960s.

Jimmy McDonell, chairman of the Dundee Museum of Transport, said the fact the building was directly linked to the city’s transport history was a big factor in why it was chosen to be the permanent home for the museum.

Jimmy McDonell
Jimmy McDonell

He added: “It is one of the few original transport-related buildings left in Scotland.

“Most have been demolished or given completely new uses.

“However, the Maryfield Tram depot will remain linked to transport.

“It is an iconic building in the city. It was built around 1900 and it still has a cobbled entrance, which you don’t see very much these much these days.

“It also still has old tram rails in the ground, which lead into the building, so a lot of the history is still there for all to see.

“It’s an ideal place for the museum, not just because of its strong links to the industry, but because it really lends itself to something like this.

“The outdoor space will allow us to hold the Dundee motor show.

“We also want it to be a community use building, with areas for local groups of all kinds to use whenever they want to.”

Jimmy said that the building is 25,000 sq ft, and was extended where it doubled its size, in 1928 and has around four acres of land.

The Forfar Road depot as it is now
The Forfar Road depot as it is now

He said: “It was the main depot in Dundee while trams were running.

“There were depots in Lochee and other parts of the city, but they were all satellite depots for Maryfield.

“At its peak, around 90 trams were in use across the city.

“And after that era ended in the 1950s, the building went on to become a major bus depot, with more than 100 buses passing through every day.”

Jimmy said trams were a huge part of Dundee life.

He added: “They offered a very good punctual service for the people of the city.”

Jimmy added that, pending the awarding of a lottery grant, the two- year project to renovate the building in Dundee will begin in early 2016.