City's replica tram sets off for a stint on Constitution Street

EDINBURGH'S replica tram is moving into the lion's den of Leith in the latest bid to win over the public and embattled traders.

The mock-up, which has been visited by 70,000 people during its time in Princes Street, is set to move to Constitution Street later this month.

It will go on display at the junction with Leith Walk after becoming one of Scotland's busiest attractions while in the city centre.

But there was anger from traders in Leith who said the tram should have gone there first to help boost footfall in an area badly hit by the effects of the works and the current economic downturn.

The tram project's Alastair Richards said: "The number of people turning up to have a look at the mock-up has been beyond all our expectations.

"I'm particularly pleased that most of the 70,000 people who turned up also used it as an opportunity to ask questions. This is 70,000 people more informed about the benefits of the trams."

Last month, the Evening News revealed that council bosses were planning to tour the tram around the Capital.

The news came as it emerged the model had been vandalised twice in a week, despite being given round-the-clock protection.

Gordon Burgess, of the Leith Business Association, said he had called for the tram mock-up to go to Leith before Princes Street.

He said: "I said to TIE way back when that I felt Leith, being one of the areas hit hardest, should get something positive. We're crying out for footfall, but they go and put it outside Jenners. I found it amusing the tram was vandalised outside Jenners because that was part of the reason they didn't put it in Leith. We're better than that down here, though."

Councillor Phil Wheeler, the council's transport convener, said: "I am absolutely delighted by the number of people who have taken an interest in the Edinburgh tram project. It has proved so popular that we have had requests to move it to other locations.

"The majority of people who have been on board have given positive feedback and I would encourage anyone who hasn't already been down to see it to do so before it closes on Thursday."

The exhibit will close its doors to the public on Thursday at 2.30pm before moving to its new location later this month.

Meanwhile, a series of archeological investigations connected to the tram work have begun near the graveyard in Constitution Street. It is not currently known how long the excavations – which are being carried out along the length of wall belonging to South Leith Parish Church – will take. Last year, tram workers on Constitution Street found a skull and other human remains dating back at least 200 years.