Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tram Demise

All Australian state capital cities had electric trams, as did many large regional cities. While Melbourne kept its tram system and with the exception of one line in Adelaide, the rest were all shut down. The last capital city to lose their trams was Brisbane which is rather odd because although it closed in 1969, new trams were delivered as late as 1964 and unlike Sydney's tram system that had been quite neglected through and post World War II, Brisbane's system was well maintained. One noticeable feature I observed when I was at Sydney Tram Museum, was that while Melbourne trams did not get internal fluorescent lighting until the 1970s, the latest Brisbane trams from the early 1960s had fluoro lighting.

Lord Mayor at the time of closure, the late Clem Jones, now honoured by having the Clem 7 road tunnel named after him, was very anti tram and wanted to see closure of the system. Adding to the pressure for closure was a fire at the Paddington tram depot, which destroyed 20 per cent of Brisbane's trams.

I could not possibly confirm nor deny the accuracy of the following exchange but it is food for thought.

The Paddington Depot fire was no gas leak. It was started deliberately and welcomed gleefully by a certain Mr Jones.

Oooooh, how can you say such a thing.
Just because certain trams (including the historic cars) were moved from Paddington to other depots, and replaced by older cars only days before.
Just because the controller keys and brake handles were said to have been removed from cars in the depot and the power failed as soon as the fire started.
Just because freak wind conditions were experienced that night and fanned the fire at a depot built out on a hillside with a timber floor.
Mere coincidence.

In case you are wondering about which regional towns had electric trams, Freemantle and Kalgoorlie in WA, Newcastle in NSW, Geelong, Bendigo and Ballarat in Victoria, Launceston in Tasmania. Maybe there are some more.


  1. Last Saturday morning, I enjoyed breakfast at the Sassafras Cafe across the road from the former Paddington tram depot. If you at one of the two seats near the front window (and enjoy the excellent food) you will have a view from almost exactly where this photo was taken.

    1. I'm sure your mind must have been imagining what it was like when the depot was operational, with trams coming and going.