Monday, December 17, 2007

Letter from a friend #33

Post effort 8/10

My Sydney friend, aka Mr Plastic/Silicon/Steroid/Muscles embarrasses me now with his quick writing. So I apologize for him. He was well ejacated at a private international school in Hong Kong and so he does know how to write correct.

I spent an hour or so with books and the net to give him an answer to his question. Do you think I gave him too much information? My love of the late Sydney tram system goes on, so after such a question, I could not help myself and sent him a couple of pictures asking him to identify the location. (I changed the file names)

got a question.
there is a tram that runs from roselle, glebe, to the key and i'm wondering it runs on this old track.
is it possible that they put the tram on an old train track or is the size of rail different so trams can't use train tracks?

That's interesting. I didn't know that.

What I do know is that the Lilyfield tram doesn't go near the Quay (yet!). It sort of ends at Central Station in a loop, using the old Pitt Street and Castlereagh Street tram reservations in Belmore Park.

In Melbourne, trams were of a different wheel gauge to the trains, that is the gap across between the wheels, or tracks if you like. Let me see, are you old enough to remember the train to St Kilda and Port Melbourne? For safety's sake, best I say no. Anyway when they were converted to light rail, they had to move one track. Not sure if it was closer or further apart.

But in Sydney they were the same and so Sydney trams could and did use the railway lines. They used to use a steam tram, the original Sydney trams, and tow the newer electric trams via a long way around on a railway line to get them to the north shore before the bridge was built. At one point they used to also have a barge to carry the trams across the harbour. When the tram line to Ryde was completed, the tram line was joined to the railway line at Ryde Station and so it was a much shorter journey to get a tram onto the railway line to go wherever.

That much I knew.

But what I didn't know was that the Lilyfield tram does travel on an old railway line. It was only a goods line (Balmain Goods Line?) and joined the Liverpool train line at Hurlstone Park (Hurlstone Park may only be a station now, not a suburb, so Dulwich Hill will do)

At the other end, the tram only seems to depart the old railway line when it turns and runs past Paddy's Market. The old railway line continued on to the southern end of Central Station. A bit of the train line looks to be still there and runs into Powerhouse Museum.

As for Lilyfield, from what I can see, the tram line still joins the railway line at the Lilyfield terminus and so with something to tow it, a tram could still run on the railway line. This assumes that the present tram is still of the same gauge as the railway lines and the tracks did not have to be shifted, but from what I recall, they didn't.
Was interesting to work all that out.

(And I attached a couple of pics I found on the net, thanks Ben, of the Lilyfield tram emerging from what was a railway tunnel and the Lilyfield tram travelling on the train viaduct.)

i think u are right.
i think the tram line doens't go all the way to the quay i thought it did, i've never taken it. i'll check it out though.
baby boomer generation is to blame for that, wankers removing trams and replacing them with slow, ugly, polluting buses which nobody wants to get and doesn't.
clover is fighting to bring trams back.

Where is this? Hint, eastern suburbs.

could be near edgecliff there heading toward what is now edgecliff station?
the northern end of paddington thru darlo past st vinnies hospital perhaps?
it's the only area i can think of that's raised.


friend of mine is just here and looked at this pic.
he was saying it's a road not what i thought that is now the train line.
it's the back road that goes from darlinghurst near the wall past st vincents hospital up to paddington.
it's now a crappy rough old bridge that's awful on you tyres as u drive over it sort of concretey.

The 'friend' would be his seventy year old sugar daddy who would know full well where the tram viaduct was and probably rode on a tram across it.


  1. Glad I could help.

    Did you take a look at in your research, it's a pretty good account of the construction. There's a link to a large collection of images about 2/3's of the way down the page.

    You can see in the construction photos on the site above that they ripped up the existing railway track and started from scratch.

    Yes the line is still connected to the goods line at Lillyfield (Rozelle).

  2. The bottom photo definitely looks like the Boundary Street bridge near St Vincent's Hospital. What confirms it for me are the two walkways on either side and of course the terraces and the sharp turn to the left. the road below is Barcom Avenue which runs back up to Oxford Street and to the corner where the Albury Hotel was. What I can't work out is whether it is Paddington or Darlinghurst in the foreground of the photo.

    The top photo is (I believe) the same bridge but taken from Barcom Avenue.

    Yes, there is still a suburb called Hurlstone Park. It even has it's own RSL club. Where else could one see Mike Mathieson play (Monday 24th). Mike use to play in the piano bar of the Albury. A friend Lance Leopard once pulled a fake gun on Mike whilst he was playing piano. Lance was later arrested at Pastel's in Crown Street. Cops everywhere.

  3. I loved reading this informtion Andrew...and I fear I may become a tram nuffie..uh ohhh...I already love trains and planes!!

  4. Thanks Ben. I have looked at the site before but it slipped my mind.

    I will check the details exactly later Firehorse. I remember the name Lance Leopard. Who was he?

    Your cup is running over Cazzie.

  5. Anonymous1:04 pm

    Andrew, brilliant post. Like Cassie above I fear I am being converted. Since I always look for the rails and bridges of abandoned train lines I am probably predisposed.


  6. It was a huge system LiD. Makes Melbourne trams seem pretty small time.

  7. I took a lot of care with the photo labels Fireshorse, so if a photo says outbound or inbound, you should be able to work it out.

  8. I didn't think to click on the pics to enlarge. Now having done it, the photo that says 'inbound' is actually heading away from Darlinghurst to Paddington. The T intersection at the end is not in Darlinghurst. I believe the street at the end is Brown Street. The tram is travelling down Burton Street.

    Great job though Andrew. I enjoy your research work.

  9. Thanks Firehorse. I have never seen that area. My reference must be wrong then and it has been noted that there are other errors in the publication.

  10. I have had another look Firehorse. The caption on the photo titled 'inbound' says 'An R1 class car, en route to Circular Quay from Ocean Street, crosses the viaduct above Boundary Street, Paddington, a few weeks before the closure of the line.' I titled the photos so would not heading to the Quay be 'inbound'? But, as I said, the book could be wrong.

  11. I do believe it is where Burton St crosses over Boundary St.
    Top photo is Boundary st heading up to Oxford St
    and the tram in the bottom photo is heading out along Burton St away from the city

  12. Hiya Ian. The tram met Oxford Street later at Edgecliff. Is that what you mean when you say up to Oxford Street? Towards the city, the tram turned into Bourke Street. Gee, wonder how they got it so wrong in the book.