Św. Wawrzyńca tram depot

Św. Wawrzyńca tram depot, the seat of the Museum. Object's history

The shed complex at św. Wawrzyńca Street is one of its kind in Europe, the only shed complex preserved virtually completely which documents continuous development of city transport since the introduction of horse tramways, through the narrow- and normal-gauge electric tramways to buses. It was constructed stage by stage, in the end of the 19th and at the beginning of the 20th century.

The first objects were built by the Belgian Local Railways Partnership (Compagnie Générale des Chemins de Fer Secondaires), established by the Bank of Belgium (Banque de Belgique), that received a licence from Krakow authorities to construct and use first tramway lines in the city. The oldest object, preserved to our time, the narrow-gauge horse tramway shed together with stables for healthy and sick horses as well as administration and storage facilities was built in 1882, using a design by H. Géron, modified at the magistrate's request. The result was a building with a wooden skeleton filled with bricks – half-timbered construction, very rare in Krakow.

The first tramway line connected the Podgórski Bridge with the Main Railway Station. The buildings erected in 1882 were sufficient to support one line. The situation changed in 1896, when a new line was built, leading from the Main Market to the Krakow Park. This is way the horse tramway shed was elongated towards the Gazowa Street. The design for expansion of the shed's back area was prepared by Tadeusz Stryjeński and Zygmunt Hendel.

In 1900, due to electrification of tramway lines, the complex was expanded in accordance with Karol Knaus's design. Integrated halls for narrow-gauge (900 mm spacing between the rails) electric tramway were built, including a shed, workshops, and a power plant. The administrative and support buildings were modified then. All the buildings constructed at this time were brick-and-mortar structures.

In the years 1912-1913 control rooms and sheds for normal-gauge tramways were built, also at the opposite side of the św. Wawrzyńca Street. It was, among other considerations, due to the fact that normal-gauge cars, with 1435 mm rail spacing, bought by the Krakow Urban Electric Rail (a counterpart of the modern MPK S.A.), were larger than the narrow-gauge ones and did not fit older halls. The new buildings were constructed as half-timbered structures.

Further expansion happened in 1920s. Purchase of buses lead to building garages and workshops for them, erected as half-timbered structures, just like the oldest horse tramway shed and normal-gauge car halls. Such buildings are not durable, so the decision to build them this way proves that they were intended as temporary, to serve until construction of a new shed in 1938. The new shed was located at 3 Brożka Street.

The tramways eventually disappeared from the shed at św. Wawrzyńca Street in late 1950s and early 1960s, and the buildings left were used for bus workshops and warehouses.

The whole shed complex, at both sides of Św. Wawrzyńca Street (the structures at odd Street numbers side are owned by the city today, those at the even numbers side – by the Canons of the Lateran), was registered in 1985 in the Landmark List at no. A – 680. Nowadays the municipal buildings, adapted for exhibition purposes, host the Museum of Urban Engineering.