Friday, April 24, 2009

The XXX Mary Street Tram post

Some tram enthusiasts in Sydney spend much time nostalgically gazing up at buildings in the city and the inner suburbs looking for remnants of their once wonderful tram system. On many buildings are rosettes to which the overhead tram wire supports were attached. Unlike today in many cases, very basic functional objects could also be attractive. Looking at nowadays in the future all you would see is a bolt sticking out of a wall.

We were in Oxford Mall at Bondi Junction a few years ago and the mall was being dug up. I wonder if they thought it would be an easier job than it turned out to be, as they busy hauling out old tram tracks that had been covered over in the fifties. Oh to catch a tram from Sydney city to Bondi Beach and get there in 37 minutes.

These reminders of times past are kind of nice. It often takes a keen eye to spot some things. I am proud that quite a few years ago, I noticed steel poles in Wellington Street, St Kilda. I noticed them, thought they were odd and then forgot about them. Melbourne's tram system overhead wires are almost all supported on steel poles if not attached to buildings. A good bit later, I learnt that the Dandenong Road tram used to run along Wellington Street before Queens Way, the St Kilda Junction underpass, was built. I noticed them, even if I did not really.

If you were to cruise some streets of Yarraville and Footscray, you will find the reminders of its tram system in the way of steel poles still in the streets. Have a look at Victoria Street, Charles Street, Gamon Street and Somerville Road.

Which of you smart asses says, what about Barkers Road, Kew? No tram ever along there. Correct, there wasn't, but the tramways erected steel poles to carry electric feeder cables to Glenferrie Road.

Which brings us to a very short section of Mary Street, St Kilda West. The present route 112, West Preston via the city to St Kilda, Fitzroy Street, is not its original route. Before reaching Fitzroy Street, the tram used to turn right into Mary Street and then left into Beaconsfield Parade and travel along the Upper Esplanade to terminate, I think, where the present route 96 tram ends, at the bottom of Acland Street.

I have no idea why the tram was truncated to Fitzroy Street. Maybe traffic problems in Beaconsfield Parade, maybe alterations to the Fitzroy Street and Upper Esplanade interesection, funnily enough being altered again now. Maybe it was tram congestion at Luna Park.

I wonder how many residents of Mary Street have ever thought about why there might be steel poles in their street.

I have had two goes at taking photos in Mary Street and I am not happy with the results. I feel a sense of deja vu about this post as I am sure I have done it already, but in spite of searching, I cannot find it on my blog. The photos just aren't very good, bar the old one, but here we go.

It is certainly a pretty Street. The huge trees spoil it for photography, but aren't they just wonderful. Look closely and you can see the steel poles.

Here is one of the steel poles in Mary Street. Some of the fittings on the pole could be tram related, or the rusty marks indicating where a tram fitting has been removed. From my observations, it could well be what was a tram overhead support wire has been moved and used to suspend some hanging street lighting.
Here is a city bound tram about to swing right into Mary Street. We are looking along Beasonsfield Parade and in the distance, the Acland Street hill.

Amost from the same location as above. The tram has gone. The area is snowed under by trucks and cars. I had to wait a long time before I could get an almost car free picture. The trees at the Cleve Gardens don't seem to have changed much, but everything else has. I should just leave it there, but of course I have to add some personal narrative. See below if you are interested.
I think we used to call it the Triangle. The Triangle is now where the Palais is, and much local government, local residents, developer and state government botheration is happening.

Apparently the area in the photo where you can see the bunched trees is Cleve Gardens. A tram super stop is being built in Fitzroy Street and it will be known as, quite pretentiously in my view, as Cleve Plaza. We already have a St Vincents Plaza. It is a tram stop, a well designed and good tram stop, but just a tram stop.

There was an ablution block on Cleve Gardens. In the early eighties it was a place for guys to meet guys for a bit of boi on boi action, or to even pick up rent bois. I could not possibly confirm that it was my VE Valiant that may have been parked there one night in 1980 and there was a hot straight boi at my window chatting to me. He mentioned out of the blue $40. I had no idea what he was on about but he became very annoyed when I indicated that for whatever $40 was for, the price was too high. In fact hot straight boi turned into ugly straight boi and suggested that I should not be such a smart ass. My interest in Cleve Gardens disappated as I realised straight boi might actually be straight and that type of foreign born who may spit on the street was not to my taste. (Oh, how I can lie).

It took Premier Jeff Kennet to turn Cleve Gardens into something not memorable. By the nineties, the local aborigines had decided it was a good place to camp, and they could even have a wash in the ablution block. In 1996 the Australian Grand Prix is coming to Melbourne. Get rid of the undesirables. Knock the toilet block down. Get the boongs out of sight of the nice people we want to attract to our city. And it came to pass, and they did leave. It would not surprise me if was a bit of our local tribe's land.

Since then it has been a nothing place. But as I type, Cleve Gardens is being reinvented.

10 comments:

  1. I don't know what sort of metal the tram poles round Fleetwood are made of. They've been painted over so many times now that they're probably just made of...well...paint.

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  2. Yep, Cleve Gardens is a sacred place/meeting place for Bunurong and Wurundjeri Peoples.
    You should look at bit more closely at that swamp-cum-burnt-down nightclub-cum-illegal archaeology dig...

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  3. They would need to be kept well painted Brian, with all the salt spray.

    The Palace Jayne? What is there? They have asphalted over it now.

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  4. Too late, she cried!
    The bastards.
    Swamp = aboriginal artefacts, the fill = historical artefacts.

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  5. Wouldn't it have been just a wonderful thing to let people in there and just dig informally and see what came up (I think Brian just fainted at such heresy). Better to have an amateur dig than no dig at all.

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  6. And I imagine high class rent boys, asking much more than $40 from either gender, now come out for the Grand Prix.

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  7. By the way Oxford Mall in Bondi Junction contains barely visible twin strips down the centre which are meant to represent the old tram lines that ran down there.

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  8. I am sure they do Victor. I am so out of touch, I don't know where the boys work from now.

    And back here Victor....
    http://highriser.blogspot.com/2006/01/sydney-tram.html

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  9. Anonymous5:41 pm

    Just looked up my tram map, and that mary street - beaconsfield parade stretch was changed to park street in 1959; seems it terminated at Fitzroy Street anyway, and that last little bit was altered in preparation for the changes to beaconsfield parade that joined it up more efficiently with jacks boulevarde that was then widened, making the lovely non-stop traffic barrier that it is today.

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  10. Ok Anon. I did wonder why it changed. No one has ever offered an explanation. If you are in town, the 112 is nice and relaxed way to get to Fitzroy Street.

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Whenever I wish I was young again, I am sobered by memories of algebra.