The Legnicka depot is the last historic building of such size preserved in the Przedmieście Mikołajskie suburb. It was built in 1900-1901 as the largest of Wrocław’s three depots serving its modern electric tramway system. It had an area of almost 7,000 m2 and comprised two parking halls that could accommodate 56 tram cars. In addition, the complex included administrative offices, workshop halls, warehouses, stables, a salt store, a bathhouse for employees and a water tower. It functioned as the main repair shop for Wrocław’s transport company. During the First and Second World Wars, women began to be employed here to replace men called up to the front, as was the case in other companies, too. Before that, it had been thought that they should not work in industrial and transport enterprises. This was supposedly due to their poorer health and fragility, but the actual reason was a fear of breaking an “eternal law of nature.” In the patriarchal reality, women were only “fit” for domestic and care work. After 1918, women were dismissed from positions in public transport (they could only work as ticket inspectors).
The depot emerged from the siege of Breslau in 1945 in relatively good condition, given the enormity of the destruction in its vicinity. All the buildings on its premises survived. The workshops were looted and some of the trams fell into the inspection pits, but the depot could resume functioning relatively quickly and as early as 1946 it began to serve Wrocław’s tram fleet as the main repair facility in the city, known as depot no. 6 – Popowice. Like the other depots in the city, it played an important role during the Solidarity strikes – the municipal transport company was among the first enterprises to go on strike in Wroclaw, sending a signal to other factories to show solidarity with the striking shipyard workers in Gdańsk.
The depot on Legnicka Street is one of Europe’s most historically valuable public transport facilities. It still houses many original elements and old trams. Together with other city depots (all of which are historic buildings), it is part of the oldest and best-developed historic public transport system in present-day Poland.
The depot is located in the western part of Wrocław, in the Przedmieście Mikołajskie suburb. Until 1945, it was a densely developed area with the largest concentration of multi-family tenement buildings in Wrocław. In the 1920s, a huge modernist housing estate designed by the well-known architect Theo Effenberg was built in close proximity. In the wake of the siege of Festung Breslau, the district was almost completely destroyed – more than 90% of its buildings ceased to exist. No trace remained of the famous Effenberger estate, which had existed for less than 20 years. The war literally turned this part of the city into a sea of ruins. Przedmieście Mikołajskie became one of the areas symbolising the senselessness of war and its tragic consequences. Photographs of burnt-out shells and streets covered with rubble have often been reproduced in history books and documentaries. Today, apart from the depot, only a handful (out of several hundred) tenement houses and other buildings have survived in Mikołajskie Przedmieście, hidden among the blocks of flats that began to be erected here on a large scale in the 1960s.