Sunday, January 13, 2008
Tram to Wynyard
I have never been to Sydney's Wynyard Railway Station, so I am not sure of the layout etc. But I love the idea of travelling underground on a tram and that is what Sydney's trams did , once they crossed the Sydney Harbour Bridge from the North Shore.
They travelled over the bridge in their dedicated lanes, now bus lanes I think and next to the walkway, and once off the bridge via a now demolished bridge, they dropped down into underground tunnels at Argyle Street and terminated on platforms at the underground Wynyard Station. The tunnels and platforms were built for trains that never eventuated.
The tunnels are still there but boarded up from Wynyard Station. I believe some of the Argyle Street tunnel entrances are used for carparking.
I think my facts are facts. How about some colour and movement?
Initially there was no indication of what position or platform people's trams would leave from, so there was much running up and down of platforms by passenger trying to find their tram. Many complaints and a bit of agitation by a newspaper led to the instillation of the indicator board seen in the picture.
Back in the first half of the twentieth century when everyone wore hats, they knew to hold them tightly as they crossed the bridge. But in the tunnels there were regular gaps in the walls where trains ran on the other side of the wall. As a train approached pushing its mass of air, unexpected gusts of wind would attack the tram on the other side of the gaps. Hats would blow off and disappear into the darkness to be later mashed by tram and train undercarriages and newspapers would be ripped from hands. Eventually the authorities were forced to act when the lost hat count became an alarming figure. They installed some type of air blocking barriers at the openings.
Can't help but think of some schoolboy arriving at Fort Street High from the North Shore uttering, 'sorry Sir, my cap blew off in the Wynyard tunnel'.
The loss of Sydney's huge tram system is surely one of Australia's greatest and most permanent losses. There is no going back.
Pictures courtesy The North Sydney Lines of the Sydney Tramway System.