"Aberdeenshire Tramways" by Mike Mitchell is a wonderful history of the development, decline and eventual demise of tramways in Aberdeenshire. As you'd expect the focus is very much on Aberdeen itself, but one of the many surprises in this delightful book is the inclusion of schemes from elsewhere in the area, such as the Skene and Echt Light Railway, and lines to Newburgh and Peterhead. These came to nothing, but the Strathbathie Light Railway and the Cruden Bay Hotel Tramway were built, the latter operating two trams to link the hotel with the nearest railway station.
But as noted above the story of Aberdeenshire's Tramways largely took place within Aberdeen, and what emerges is a fascinating and extremely well told and presented slice of the history of the city. There are large numbers of images of trams between the covers, but they are interspersed with well researched text, and with a series of highly informative maps. Together these bring to life the development of both the city's tramways and the city itself, over the period from the arrival of the first horse drawn trams in 1874 to the end of tram services in Aberdeen in May 1958.
The early date of the start of services means that we are treated to a series of photographs showing Aberdeen as it grew through the 1870s and 1880s, and the map showing the city's tramways (and the limit of the developed area of the city) in the mid-1870s really helps set the story of Aberdeen in context. Horse drawn trams were replaced by an electrically powered system in the years between 1898 and 1905, and the images follow the change. Most are, of course, in black and white, but the inclusion of a number that were hand tinted at the time helps add a different dimension to the book.
By the mid 1950s, buses were increasingly supplanting trams, and eventually did so entirely. Some of the later images help show how far trams had developed, with the (relatively) luxurious interiors and sleek streamlined exteriors. For us one of the most striking images in the book comes right at the end, showing a tram fitted with a snowplough helping keep Aberdeen's streets clear during the severe winter of 1957/8.