Tram project to be captured for major exhibition

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By Rory Reynolds

THE firm behind the controversial Edinburgh trams is to showcase an exhibition charting the history of the project.

The People Who Built the Trams will feature black and white pictures of the workers and the site during the massive project.

TIE, the firm set up by the City of Edinburgh Council to handle the tram project, has said that they hope to record history and find stories from those who worked on the site.

It is hoped that the images, which will also be released in a new book, will be cherished one day as the old sepia pictures from the late 1800s project are now.

The book being released as part of the exhibition is currently being compiled by journalist Kenny Kemp, who ghost wrote Richard Branson’s business guide, and photographer Howard Elwyn-Jones.

Kenny said: “This is a fascinating story of the people and the skills required to undertake this major UK engineering project.

Iconic

“The guys working on the streets share the same frustrations with the people of Edinburgh about the delays and hold-ups, but there is a fierce pride in working on something as iconic as the tram network.”

Mandy Haeburn-Little, Director of customer services at TIE, said: “These men and women have fascinating stories to tell of what it has been like to work on the project. Most are passionate supporters of the tram.

“Most are very proud of the work that they are involved in and cannot understand why they have been caught at the heart of such a political storm. Each one of these people has a story to recount.

“The book which has the full support of the Board, will shortly be translated into a series of postcards and in time will form part of what we hope will be an extraordinary journal or account for the people of Edinburgh.”

Hare-brained

However, critics have claimed that the exhibition is over-romanticising the project, which has currently ground to a halt due to a dispute with German contractor Bilfinger Berger.

Gordon Burgess of the Leith Business Association, said that the idea was “ill-conceived and hare-brained – much like the tram project itself.”

He added: “This sounds like an April Fool, but I’ve checked the calendar and it’s not the first of April anymore.

“We’ve had these tram works for three years, people have had to look at them day in, day out.

“Why would anyone want to go to an exhibition to see more of it?”

Problems

Lothians MSP Shirley-Anne Somerville added that the exhibition was a distraction from the problems that the project has been facing.

She said: “You have to wonder how much this is costing. TIE need to stop the PR and the spin and get on with building the tram, which is what they’re there for.”

The exhibition is expected to be unveiled in summer 2012, after the project is finished.

It will also focus on some of the artefacts that have been unearthed by the tram works.

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