The most substantial remnant of Sheffield’s first-generation tram system is the original depot at Weedon Street, Tinsley, built in 1873 for the Sheffield Tramways Company when it opened its first horse-drawn line.
This very early tramway was founded by the railway contractor Thomas Lightfoot, who also built the Douglas horse-tramway that opened in 1876 and still operates in the Isle of Man.
Tinsley Tram Sheds is possibly the oldest remaining purpose-built tram depot in the UK.
When the Sheffield Corporation took over the horse-tram company, its first electric trams, inaugurated in 1899, ran between Weedon Street and Nether Edge, with a depot at each end, and for the first few years vehicles were maintained and eventually built at the two depots – mechanical parts at Tinsley, bodywork at Nether Edge – until a purpose-built works at Queen’s Road opened in 1905.
A well-made film of a tram-journey from Beauchief to Weedon Street in 1960 ends with Roberts car 523 disappearing into the tramsheds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0a28Q_78eM [at 16:45 minutes].
Almost all Sheffield’s trams, including the very last in service and those in the final closing procession in October 1960, ended up at Weedon Street, from where they were towed across the road to Thomas W Ward’s scrapyard.
Sheffield people customarily referred to “tramsheds”, though all of them across the city were substantial brick buildings. Apart from Tinsley, they have either disappeared or survive only as sad facades.
At one time Tinsley Tramsheds was home to Sheffield’s bus museum, until a schism led to one collection moving out to Aldwarke near Rotherham to become the South Yorkshire Bus Museum and the other, the South Yorkshire Transport Trust, eventually moving to Eastwood in a nearby part of Rotherham.
Little remains of the tram-depot interior: the tracks, inspection pits and overhead gantries that gave exterior access to trams at upper-deck level have long gone. The whole of the spacious interior is currently occupied by a tile-depot.
A glass-half-empty report from the Hallamshire Historic Buildings Society suggests that the building is deteriorating: http://hhbs.org.uk/2017/07/01/trams-to-tiles.
Nevertheless, this Grade II-listed relic of transport history, located between the Meadowhall shopping centre and Sheffield’s new Ikea store, close to a retail park and the Sheffield Arena, could be smartened up by a savvy developer.
Cracks in the tarmac of the forecourt show that the track-fan and stone setts survive, at least in part, waiting to be exposed.
The interior is a flexible space with scope for adaptation, and the exterior is capable of restoration as one of the few historic sites remaining in the Lower Don Valley.
For details of the Bus Ride Round Attercliffe on Sunday afternoon, September 25th 2022, please click here.