Trams in Sydney


The Sydney tramway network once served
Sydney, the capital city of New South Wales, Australia. In its heyday, it was
the largest in Australia, the second largest in the Commonwealth of Nations,
and one of the largest in the world. The network was heavily worked, with about
1,600 cars in service at any one time at its peak during the 1930s.
Throughout the first half of the twentieth century, an average of more
than one tram journey per day was made in Sydney by every man and woman, infant
and child in the city. Patronage peaked in 1945 at 405 million passenger
journeys. The system was in place from 1879 until its winding down in the 1950s
and closure in 1961. It had a maximum street mileage of 181 miles, in 1923.
History =Early tramways=
Sydney’s first tram was horse-drawn, running from the old Sydney Railway
station to Circular Quay along Pitt Street. Built in 1861, the design was
compromised by the desire to haul railway freight wagons along the line to
supply city businesses, in addition to passenger traffic. This resulted in a
track that protruded from the road surface and damaged the wheels of wagons
trying to cross it. Hard campaigning by competing omnibus owners – as well as a
fatal accident involving the leading Australian musician Isaac Nathan in 1864
– led to closure in 1866. In 1879 a steam tramway was established.
Despite several accidents, it was a great success and the system expanded
rapidly through the city and inner suburbs. The Steam Motor Trams comprised
a Baldwin locomotive hauling one or more double-deck carriages. A preserved
Baldwin Steam Motor Tram is at the Powerhouse Museum “Discovery Centre” at
Castle Hill, and there is an operational steam motor and trailer set at the
Valley Heights Steam Tramway Museum, in the Blue Mountains near Sydney. Another
is at MOTAT, Auckland. There were also two cable tram routes, to Ocean Street
and in North Sydney, later extended to Crows Nest, because of the steep terrain
involved. Additionally, horse trams operated
between Newtown and St Peters railway stations in the 1890s and between Manly
and North Manly from 1903 to 1907. These two instances were replacements of
existing steam trams during periods of low patronage.
=Electrification=The Sydney tram power supply system was
built using New York subway electrical equipment that was adapted for tram
usage. Generating plant was installed at Ultimo and White Bay Power Stations.
Electrification started in 1898, and most of the system was converted by
1910- the privately owned Parramatta line built by Charles Edward Jeanneret
in 1881 to Redbank Wharf steam tram remained until 1943. Service began with
C-class saloon cars, followed by D-class combination cars. In contrast to other
cities that started with combination cars and toastracks, then quickly
abandoned them for drop-centre and saloon cars, Sydney started by going the
other way. Footboard trams continued to be introduced, notably E-class, K-class,
and the double-bogie cars O-class and P-class trams required the conductor to
collect fares from the footboard of the car, as those trams had no corridor.
Revered though those trams were, they were deathtraps for conductors. On
average, each day one conductor fell or was knocked off the footboard by passing
motor vehicles. The majority suffered a fractured skull. In the three years
1923, 1924, 1925, there were 282, 289, and 233 accidents respectively to
conductors on N.S.W. tramways. From 1916 to 1932, there were 4097 accidents to
tram employees, and from 1923 to 1931 there were 10,228 accidents to
passengers having falls when alighting or boarding. 63 of the falls were fatal.
Of the more than 100 falls reported of conductors, one quarter died from their
injuries. It was not until the 1930s with the introduction of the R-class
that the drop-centre saloon tram, widely used elsewhere in Australia, came to
Sydney. Even so, footboard trams continued in wide use until the late
1950s, despite calls as early as 1934 by the tram union for them to be modified.
=Demise and closure=By the 1920s, the system had reached its
maximum extent. In many ways, the Sydney tram system was a victim of its own
success. The overcrowded and heaving trams running at a high frequency, in
competition with growing private motor car and bus use, created congestion.
Competition from the private car, private bus operators and the perception
of traffic congestion led to the gradual closure of lines from the late 1930s.
Overseas transport experts were called upon to advise the city on its post-war
transport issues and recommended closure of the system. Closure was supported by
the NRMA, but generally went against public opinion. Nevertheless, closure
became Labor government policy and the system was wound down in stages, with
withdrawal of the last service, to La Perouse, in 1961, which was driven by
Jerry Valek, a Czechoslovak man from Annandale.
City Service =Circular Quay – Railway Central
Station Colonnade=This was an extremely busy service for
passengers transferring from suburban trains at Central, particularly prior to
the opening of the city underground railway lines in 1926. Trams operated
from Central station down Castlereagh Street to Circular Quay and back up Pitt
Street in a large anti-clockwise loop. These tracks were also used as the city
route for some eastern and southwestern routes during busy periods.
The line made use of the sandstone viaduct onto the colonnade at Central
station, and is used again today by trams of sort, in the form of the Inner
West Light Rail system—but in the opposite direction.
Eastern Suburbs Lines Circular Quay was the focal terminal
point of most services to the eastern suburbs, and allowed easy transfer to
ferries. For many years, 27 regular services operated from Circular Quay. A
number of full-time services also operated from a secondary terminus at
‘Railway’.=Watsons Bay Line=
This line started with a loop at the corner of Erskine and Day Streets near
Wynyard Station then proceeded south down Day Street, turning left into King
Street. It then proceeded down King Street, crossing four other busy lines.
It then passed through Queen’s Square at St James Station, then swung right into
College Street, heading south past St Mary’s Cathedral, then turning left into
Boomerang Street. The line then swung left into William Street and proceeded
down William Street to King’s Cross, before heading into Bayswater Road. The
line then ran east along Bayswater Road, then into New South Head Road at
Rushcutters Bay. The Rushcutters Bay Tram Depot, which served this line, was
located at this point, on the north side of the road.
The line then followed the course of New South Head Road through Double Bay, Rose
Bay and Vaucluse. A single track then passed through narrow rock cuttings, low
cliffs and rugged back-drops, twisting and turning its way down to the terminus
at Watsons Bay. The line reached Edgecliff in 1894, and Watsons Bay in
1909. In 1949 the line from Rose Bay to Watsons Bay closed, but reopened in 1950
due to public protest. In 1950, the line down King Street to Erskine Street
closed and a new terminus constructed at Queens Square. The remainder of the line
closed in 1960. This line had its own depot and city terminus and operated
independently, although was connected to the main system. The tram line followed
the present-day route of buses 324 and L24.
=Woolloomooloo Line=This line branched off from Park Street
and ran north along Haig Avenue, Sir John Young Crescent and Lincoln Crescent
to Brown’s Wharf at Woolloomooloo. Through service ran from Circular Quay
via Elizabeth and Park Streets. The line opened in stages between 1915 and 1918.
The line was an early closure, in 1935, being replaced by a bus service from
Pyrmont.=North Bondi via Bondi Junction Line=
Services operated from either Circular Quay or Railway Square, to Oxford
Street. The line then passed down Oxford Street to Bondi Junction, were it
branched off from Bronte services, to run down Bondi Road to Fletcher Street,
Campbell Parade and then to the North Bondi tram terminus. A feature of this
line was the large 3 track terminus cut into a hillside at North Bondi, which
opened in 1946. The line opened in 1884 as a steam tramway to Bondi, then to
Bondi Beach in 1894. Electric services commenced in 1902. The line closed in
1960. The tram line followed the current route of bus 380 as far as North Bondi.
=North Bondi via Paddington and Bellevue Hill Line=
Heading south down Elizabeth Street from Circular Quay, the line turned left into
Park Street, then wound through East Sydney via a right turn into Yurong
Street, a left turn into Stanley Street, a right turn into Bourke Street, then a
left turn into Burton Street. According to plans held in the archives of the
City of Sydney a spur line existed linking Burton Street to the prisoners
entrance on Forbes street at the rear of the Darlinghurst Courthouse. This may
have allowed prisoners from Long Bay Gaol or elsewhere to be transported by
tram to Darlinghurst Courthouse [East Sydney Technical College, Court and Old
Gaol 1 Jan 1933 ~1 Jan 1933 Archives of City of Sydney
.nsw.gov.auEntity.aspx?Path=\Item\4011]. FA feature was the tram only viaduct
over Barcom Avenue and Boundary Street in Darlinghurst as the line headed into
MacDonald Street. This viaduct is now a road bridge. The line then twisted down
Glenmore, Gurner and Hargrave Streets in Paddington, then Moncur and Queen
Streets in Woollahra. Here, a connection to Oxford Street allowed access to the
Waverley Depot. The line then travelled down Edgecliff and Victoria Roads, then
wound along Birriga Road in Bellevue Hill, finally running down Curlewis
Street in Bondi to join the Bondi Beach via Bondi Junction line on Campbell
Parade, to the North Bondi terminus. The line was double track throughout with
numerous points to allow short working. Services operated from Circular Quay via
Elizabeth Street and Park Street. The line opened to Bellevue Hill in 1909,
and to Bondi Beach in 1914. The line was cut back to Ocean Street, Woollahra in
1955; the remainder closed on 27 June 1959. The line followed approximately
the current route of bus 389 between the city and Woollahra and route X84 between
Woollahra and Bondi Beach.=Bronte Line=
This line branched from the North Bondi via Bondi Junction line at Bondi
Junction, running down Bronte Road and MacPherson Street to Bronte Beach. A
feature of this line was the final approach to Bronte Beach in a rock
cutting parallel to the Pacific Ocean. The line opened to Waverley in 1890,
then to Bronte in 1911. Electric services started to Waverley in 1902,
then Bronte in 1911. Through services ran from Circular Quay or Railway
Square. The line was closed in 1960 and replaced by a bus service that follows
the current route of bus 378.=Clovelly Line=
This line branched from Anzac Parade at Alison Road, and ran on its own tram
reservation beside Centennial Park as far as Darley Road. Here it diverged
from services to Coogee, to run north along Darley Road, then turned right
into Clovelly Road to run down to its terminus at Clovelly Beach. The line
opened from Alison Road to the intersection of Clovelly and Carrington
Roads in 1912, then to Clovelly in 1913. Though services ran from Circular Quay
and from Railway Square. The line closed in 1957. The tram line followed the
current route of bus 339.=Coogee Line=
The line branched from the line to Clovelly at Darley Road in Randwick. It
ran down King Street beside the Randwick Tramway Workshops, then ran in its own
reservation to Belmore Road. It then ran down Perouse Road, St Pauls Street, Carr
Street and Arden Street before terminating in a balloon loop in Dolphin
Street, Coogee Beach. It ran through several small tram reservations on its
way down from Randwick to the beach. The line from Randwick to Coogee opened in
1883, and electric services were introduced in 1902. The line closed in
1960. It follows the current route of bus 373.
=La Perouse Line=This line branched from Oxford Street at
Taylor Square in Darlinghurst to run south along Flinders Street, then into
its own tram reservation along the eastern side of Anzac Parade beside
Moore Park. It then proceeded down the centre of Anzac Parade through Maroubra
Junction, and Malabar to its balloon loop terminus at La Perouse. At Malabar
a single line branched off to serve Long Bay Gaol. The line was double track
throughout. In 1934 the fourth section of the La Perouse tramline was built to
Bunnerong Power Station in Matraville to encourage residential and industrial
growth in the area. The line reached La Perouse in stages from 1900 to 1902. It
was the final line to close in 1961. The line followed the current route of bus
394.=Maroubra Line=
This line branched off the line to La Perouse at the intersection of Anzac
Parade and Maroubra Road, travelling east along Maroubra Road, Cooper Street,
French Street and Mons Avenue before terminating in a balloon loop in Marine
Parade, Maroubra Bay Beach. The line was double track throughout, and passed
though several tram reservations on its descent down to the beach. Direct
services operated from Circular Quay and Railway Square. The line opened from
Anzac Parade to Maroubra Bay in 1921, and closed in 1961. The line followed
the current route of bus 397.=Cross Country Line=
This line branched off Bronte Road at Waverley and travelled south down Albion
Street and Frenchmans Road, then via Frances and Cook Streets to join the
Coogee line at Belmore Road in Randwick. The line was single track throughout,
with a passing loop on Frenchmans Road. Initially services ran from the junction
at Albion Street in Wavelery to Randwick only, this was later extended to Coogee
in 1907. From 1910, through services operated from Bondi Beach to Coogee
Beach, and later additionally from Waverley Depot to Coogee beach. The line
opened as a steam tramway in 1887, and was electrified in 1902. It closed in
1954, replaced by the 313 bus.=West Kensington via Surry Hills Line=
This line branched from the tramlines in Oxford Street and ran down Crown Street
to Cleveland Street in Surry Hills, then south along Baptist Street to Phillip
Street, where it swung left into Crescent Street before running south
along Dowling Street. It passed the Dowling Street Depot, then tuned left
into Todman Avenue where it terminated at West Kensington. Services operated
full-time from Circular Quay, and to Railway in peak hours. The line opened
in 1881 down Crown Street as far as Cleveland Street as a steam tramway. It
was extended to Phillip Street in 1909, Todman Avenue in 1912, and then to its
final terminus down Todman Avenue in 1937. The line down Crown Street closed
in 1957, the remainder stayed open until 1961 to allow access to the Dowling
Street Depot. Sydney Buses routes 301, 302 and 303 generally follow the route
down Crown and Baptist Streets as far as Phillip Street.
=Botany via Railway Square Line=Route: Services operated from Circular
Quay initially via Elizabeth, Chalmers and Redfern Streets, then in 1933 via
Pitt and Castlereagh Streets, and Eddy Avenue, Lee and Regent Streets, to
Botany Street in Waterloo. A single-track connection along Bourke and
O’Dea Streets joined at the present day Green Square, allowing access to the
Dowling Street Depot. The line then passed down the entire length of Botany
Road to Botany. In Mascot, a branch led to the former Ascot Racecourse at the
site of Sydney Airport. Points were provided at Bay Street on Botany Road in
Botany for short working. The line was double track throughout. From Botany, a
single-track line crossed the Botany Goods railway at Beauchamp Road, then
passed along Perry Street and Bunnerong Road, past the former Bunnerong Power
Station to join the La Perouse line at Yarra Junction. Generally a shuttle
service operated on this single track section between Botany and La Perouse.
This single-track line was cut back to Military Road in 1935. The line opened
in 1882 as a steam tramway to Botany, and electric services commenced in 1903.
The line from the junctions at Cleveland Street to Botany closed in approximately
1956/57. Sydney Buses route 309 generally follows the route.
=Alexandria Line=This line branched from the Botany line
at the junction of Henderson and Botany Roads in Alexandria. The line proceeded
down Erskineville Oval for short working. The line turned right into the
present day Sydney Park Road before terminating at the junction with the
Cook’s River line at the Princes Highway near St Peters railway station. Services
operated from Circular Quay in a route similar to the Botany line as far as the
Henderson Road junction. The line opened in 1902 as a single-track electric line,
duplicated in 1910. It was closed in 1959. Sydney Buses route 308 generally
follows the route as far as St Peters station.
=Henderson Road Line=This short line branched from the
Alexandria line tracks at the corner of Henderson and Mitchell Roads in
Alexandria and passed along Henderson Road to Park Street in Erskineville, and
later to Bridge Street adjacent to Erskineville railway station. Services
operated from Circular Quay. The line was an electrified single track
throughout. The line opened to Park Street in 1906 and to Bridge Street in
1909. The line was an early closure, in 1933. It was replaced by a private bus
service that no longer operates.=Rosebery Line=
This line opened in 1902 initially via Chalmers and Redfern Streets and south
along Elizabeth Street to Zetland via Elizabeth Street. In 1924, the line was
extended to Epsom Road in Rosebery. In 1948, to facilitate construction of the
Eastern Suburbs Railway, a new line was constructed down Elizabeth Street
between Devonshire Street and Redfern Street and the route was deviated to run
down this new section. The line was electrified double track throughout. The
line was closed in 1957.=Daceyville Line=
This line branched from the Botany Road line at Gardners Road, and passed east
along Gardners Road to join the lines at Anzac Parade at what was known as
Daceyville Junction. It included a large collection of sidings at the former
Rosebery Racecourse, now the site of The Lakes Golf Course. The full line opened
in 1913, with services from Circular Quay via Waterloo. Some services were
extended to Maroubra Beach via the Anzac Pde lines. The line closed in 1957.
Western Lines The majority of services operated from
Fort Macquarie and Circular Quay down George Street to various destinations.
In the peak hours and other busy periods, supplementary services operated
from Railway Square. The 1920s were seen as a boom period. with up to 200 trams
in use on lines to Leichhardt, Drummoyne, Ryde, Abbotsford, Glebe and
Balmain on a daily basis. The tram lines to Glebe Point, Balmain, Lilyfield,
Leichhardt and Haberfield were closed in November 1958.
=Leichhardt, Abbotsford and Five Dock=Trams also serviced Leichhardt via
Parramatta Road and Norton Street, turning right onto Perry Street and then
onto Balmain Road where it joined Darling Street. The terminus was located
adjacent to the Rozelle Primary School. It was possible to change trams and
connect with ferry services at the Darling Street Wharf.
The Abbotsford line branched off the Leichhardt line at Marion Street,
Leichhardt. The line followed Marion Street, Ramsey Street, Haberfield, and
then turned right onto Great North Road, travelling through Five Dock and
Abbotsford before terminating near The Terrace and connecting with ferry
services at Abbotsford Wharf. The line was closed between Five Dock and
Abbotsford in 1954, Haberfield and Five Dock in 1956, and closed to Haberfield
in 1958.=Lilyfield=
The Lilyfield line branched off the Balmain line at Epping Junction and then
went via reserved track to Taylor Street and then right into Booth Street,
Annandale. The tram line turned right into Catherine Street and terminated at
the intersection of Abattoir Road and Grove Street, on the bridge over the
railway Goods Yard. This was the only tram terminus in Sydney located on a
bridge. The Lilyfield line was closed in November 1958.
=Balmain=The first steam tram to service Darling
Street was in 1892. Ten years later the service was electrified. A feature of
this line was a counterweight dummy system that controlled and assisted
trams on a steep single-line section of track near the terminus at Darling
Street Wharf. Due to the very steep incline at the bottom of the street, the
trams used a complex ‘dummy’ counterweight system constructed under
the road surface. The trams were assisted up the steep hill by the dummy,
and were retarded by the dummy on the way down to safely descend the hill.
Circular Quay to Balmain tram services terminated at Gladstone Park for most of
the life of the system. Darling Street Wharf was the terminus for the cross
suburban route to Canterbury. The Canterbury – Darling Street Wharf
service was closed in 1954. Until 1955, City to Balmain services were extended
to the wharf, when busses replaced trams between Gladstone Park and the wharf.
Balmain services were closed with other western line services in November 1958.
=Birchgrove=Services branched off from the main line
on Darling Street, turning left into Rowntree Street, then another left into
Cameron Street, before turning right into Grove Street and terminating at
Wharf Road, Birchgrove. This route follows the contemporary 441 bus route.
Service to Birchgrove was terminated in 1954.
=Glebe Point=This line travelling from the city
branched off onto Glebe Point Road from Parramatta Road, terminating near the
corner of Pendrill Street.=Drummoyne and Ryde=
Ryde services ran the full length of George Street and turned into Harris
Street just after Railway Square – following the same route as the later
501 bus service. Trams went along Harris Street and crossed the Glebe Island
Bridge. From White Bay junction until the Darling Street junction, Ryde trams
shared tracks in Victoria Road with the Balmain and Birchgrove lines. The tram
then crossed the Iron Cove Bridge and the former Gladesville Bridge before
turning right onto Blaxland Road. It then wound its way along Blaxland Road,
behind the sight of the current council chambers, terminating near the
intersection of Pope and Devlin Street in Ryde.
There was a peak hour service to Drummoyne via Forest Lodge. At Forest
Lodge the line swung right into Ross Street before entering onto its own
reserved track, now known as Minogue Crescent, passing Rozelle Tram Depot.
This joined the main Victoria Road Ryde line at White Bay junction.
It was initially a single line, later duplicated from Rozelle to Ryde between
1906 and 1936. The tram terminus was established at the western end of
Blaxland Road, located near the current Top Ryde City shopping centre, and
extended down Victoria Road through Gladesville, where it eventually
terminated at Fort Macquarie. The entire trip took approximately 61 minutes to
complete, and was the single longest route on the Sydney tram network,
measuring 10 miles 61 chains via Pyrmont.
In 1914 a single tram line was added between Ryde Post Office and West Ryde
railway station. The Sydney to Ryde service became very popular,
particularly at weekends when Sydney residents would travel to the orchards
of the Ryde District to buy produce. The tram service from Ryde to the city
was cut back to Drummoyne on 19 January 1949 and replaced by buses. The service
to Drummoyne was terminated in 1953.=Balmain via Pyrmont=
Services commenced at Railway Square, travelling southwest on Broadway,
turning right onto Harris Street, passing the former Darling Harbour Goods
Yard. At Pyrmont a separate line branched off from the main line on
Harris Street, turning left into Miller Street, turning right into Bank Street,
crossing the former Glebe Island Bridge. It then travelled along Commercial Road
turning right onto Victoria Road, then right onto Darling Street, terminating
at the Darling Street Wharf.=Annandale and Forest Lodge=
Lines ran along Booth Street, Parramatta Road, Ross Street, St Johns Road, Mt
Vernon Street and Catherine Street, as well as Taylor Street. Current bus route
470 follows this tramline. South-Western Lines
The Southwestern group of lines branched off Broadway at City Road in Camperdown,
and passed along King Street through Newtown. Four lines then proceeded to
Cooks River, Dulwich Hill, Canterbury and Earlwood. A short lived line also
operated between Canterbury and Summer Hill.
=Cooks River Line=This line ran south-west along City Road
from Broadway, then along King Street, Newtown, past Newtown and St Peters
railway stations to the Princes Highway. It then proceeded down the Princes
Highway to its terminus at the Cooks River. At Tempe, a connection lead to
the Tempe Depot, on the corner of Princes Highway and Gannon Street. Past
the terminus at the Cooks River, a single line led over the river to the
Wolli Creek Perway Yard. The line reached St Peters as a steam tramway in
1891, then to Cooks River in 1900 when electric services commenced. The line
closed in 1957, and bus 422 parallels the former line.
=Dulwich Hill Line=This line branched from the line to
Cooks River at Newtown, and travelled down Enmore Road through Enmore, then
along Victoria Road to Marrickville Road before tuning right along Marrickville
Road through Marrickville and Dulwich Hill to New Canterbury Road. At the New
Canterbury Road terminus, a tram turning loop was provided, this is currently
used as a layover area for buses. Current bus route 426 follows this
tramline.=Canterbury Line – Darling Street Wharf
A cross country connection between the Canterbury Line at New Canterbury Road
to Petersham and the Western Suburbs lines on Parramatta Road allowed a cross
country service to operate between Canterbury and Balmain. From Crystal
Street, Fort Street, Parramatta Road, this route continued via Norton Street
Leichhardt to Balmain Road Rozelle where it crossed Victoria Road, then Darling
Street Wharf, East Balmain, to reach the wharf itself with the help of the famous
counterweight. It now forms the basis of the 444 and 445 bus routes.
From Circular Quay trams reached Newtown via Catlereagh Street Broadway, City
Road, King Street, then headed south on Enmore Road the tram turned right into
Addison Road, before turning right into Livingstone Road and then left onto New
Canterbury Road in Petersham. The line then travelled down New Canterbury Road
through Dulwich Hill and Hurlstone Park to a terminus adjacent to Canterbury
railway station in Broughton Street. The bus route 428 follows the route of this
line.=Earlwood Line=
This line branched from the line to Dulwich Hill at Illawarra Road at
Marrickville Road. It travelled south-west along Illawarra Road,
crossing the Cooks River, followed by a steep ascent up Homer Street to the
Earlwood shopping district. The line terminated in Homer Street at the
intersection of William Street and Hartill Law Avenue. Current bus route
423 follows the former tram line, although this bus route now extends to
Kingsgrove.=Cooks River–Dulwich Hill Line=
A cross country line connected the Cooks River Line and the Dulwich Hill line via
Sydenham, operating along Railway Road and Sydenham Road in Sydenham. A cross
country service operated between Cooks River and Dulwich Hill.
=Hurlstone Park–Summer Hill Line=A short lived single track line operated
from the Canterbury Line at Hurlstone Park along Old Canterbury Road and
Prospect Road to Summer Hill railway station. Services operated between
Canterbury and Summer Hill from 1915 however low patronage and competition
from motor buses saw the line close in 1933. The disused track and overhead
remained in place until the 1950s. This line was in use in the early 1950s.
There were double tracks opposite Trinity Grammar School in Prospect Rd.
=Erskineville Line=This line branched from tracks at Regent
Street in Chippendale, and passed west along Meagher Street, then south into
Abercombie Street. It followed Abercrombie St south across the junction
with Cleveland Street through Golden Grove, before swinging south into Golden
Grove St then right into Wilson Street. The line then passed under the railway
lines at Burren Street, adjacent to the entrance to Macdonaldtown railway
station. The line then became a single track loop passing up Burren Street to
Erskineville Road, then west along Erskineville Road to Septimus Street,
then Albert Street before rejoining the tracks at Burren Street. Services
operated from Circular Quay using the Pitt and Castlereagh Streets lines. The
line opened as an electric double track tramway in 1909. The line south of
Cleveland Street closed in 1940, with the northern section used by other
services until its closure in 1958. Southern Suburbs Lines
The following lines were all isolated from the main system.
=Rockdale to Brighton-Le-Sands Line=This line opened as a private steam
tramway in 1885. It was electrified in 1900, and moved into government
ownership in 1914. The line connected with the trains at Rockdale station,
then passed down Bay Street to Brighton-Le-Sands. The line was single
track throughout, with a passing loop at each end. The line closed in 1949 and
was replaced by a bus service. A small depot in Rockdale maintained the cars.
=Kogarah to Sans Souci Line=This steam tramway opened in 1887 using
small railway locomotives and carriages. In 1891 two conventional steam tram
motors were built for the line by Henry Vale. Six C1 type trailers replaced the
railway carriages around the same period. The tramway operated for 50
years until it was replaced by an electric trolleybus service in 1937. It
connected with trains at Kogarah station by way of a large balloon loop through
the streets, then passed south down Rocky Point Road to Sans Souci,
Sandringham and Dolls Point. Small depots at Sandringham and Kogarah
serviced the line. The line was single track at each end with a double-track
middle section down Rocky Point Road. Track on the line was laid to railway
standards to allow railway trucks to haul goods over the line. Wilson’s 1917
map shows the route leaving Kogarah Station, then Gray Street, across
Kogarah Road, and thence by a ROW to Rocky Point Road, entering near Herman
Street, thence along Russell Avenue, Clareville Street to the foreshore, then
along the foreshore to Sans Souci/Rocky Point Road, then north along that road,
rejoining the line at Russell Avenue.=Arncliffe to Bexley Line=
This steam tramway opened in 1909 and closed in 1926. It connected with trains
at Arncliffe station, and ran down Wollongong Road, then Forest Road
through Bexley before terminating at the corner of Forest and Preddys Roads,
Bexley. The line was single track, with a passing loop midway. A small car shed
at Arncliffe maintained the trams.=Sutherland to Cronulla Line=
This line opened as a steam tramway between Sutherland railway station and
Cronulla’s Shelley Beach, in 1911. It closed to passengers and was replaced by
a bus service in 1931, and closed completely in 1932. It pre-dated the
Sutherland to Cronulla branch of the Illawarra line, which took over its
role. North Shore Lines
A feature of these lines was the underground tram terminus at Wynyard
railway station, and the tracks over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Trams ran from
Blue Street, North Sydney over a now-demolished steel arch bridge over
the Harbour Bridge Roadway, then over the eastern side of the harbour bridge,
through a tram platform at Milsons Point similar to the existing railway station,
and dived underground into platforms 1 and 2 of Wynyard station. These
platforms were converted into a car park after the tramway’s closure in 1958.
Wynyard station’s railway platforms are thus numbered 3-6.
The line along Military Road, opened in September, 1893, was the first permanent
electric tramway in Sydney and New South Wales.
The first part of the North Sydney tramway system was a double-track cable
tramway which started at the original Milsons Point Ferry wharf, located where
the north pylon of the Harbour Bridge is now. The line originally extended via
Alfred Street, Junction Street, Blue Street and Miller Streets to the winding
engine house and depot at Ridge Street. It used cable grip cars called “dummies”
and unpowered trailer cars, similar to the large Melbourne cable tramway system
but quite different from the surviving lines in San Francisco, where everything
is combined in a single vehicle. The original cable line was extended via
Miller and Falcon Streets to Crows Nest, and later the whole line was electrified
and extensions were built to various termini around the Lower North Shore.
The history of the North Sydney tramway system can be divided into three periods
– the first from the original opening in 1886 to 1909, when the McMahons Point
line opened. The second period covers the time until the Wynyard line was
opened across the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932, and the third from then until
the general closure of the system in 1958.
=First period 1886–1909=In the initial years of the North Sydney
tramways, services operated from Milsons Point Ferry wharf to….
Ridge Street Tram Depot was originally a cable tram depot which opened in May
1886. Services were extended to Crows Nest in July, 1893. Upon conversion to
electric operation in February 1900 the depot was extensively rebuilt in 1902 to
enlarge the 12 road tram shed. Upon closure in the 1920s the shed was
converted into a cinema, now the Independent Theatre in Ridge Street,
North Sydney. Mosman Ferry Wharf – opened as an
electric line from Miller and Ridge streets, along Miller Street, Falcon
Street, and then Military Road as far as Spit Junction in September 1893 and
extended to Mosman Wharf in March 1897. Services initially connected with the
cable trams at Ridge Street and shared the cable tracks as far as Miller and
Falcon Streets. Chatswood – also opened initially as an
electric line from Crows Nest with services connecting with the cable trams
at Ridge Street and sharing the cable tracks as far as Crows Nest. It opened
as far as Victoria Avenue, Willoughby in April 1898 and extended to Chatswood
Station in July 1908. Through electric services from Milsons Point began when
the original cable tramway was electrified in February 1900.
Lane Cove – opened as an electric line from Crows Nest in February, 1900, with
trams connecting with other electric services at Ridge Street. It was
initially opened as far as Gore Hill and extended to Lane Cove in March 1909.
Some through services operated to and from Milsons Point.
The Spit – opened from Spit Junction in October 1900.
Northbridge – opened from Miller and Falcons Streets as far as Suspension
Bridge Cammeray in May 1909, to Marana Road Northbridge in February 1914, and
to Northbridge terminus in March 1914 Georges Heights – opened from Mosman
Junction along Middle Head Road to Cobbittee Street in August 1919, for the
military hospital, closed beyond the junction with the Balmoral line at
Gordon Street in 1925. Balmoral – opened as a branch of the
Georges Heights line in May, 1922 During this first period, some North
Sydney tramway services did not operate to and from Milsons Point. These were:
Ridge Street, North Sydney – Taronga Zoo – introduced over the Mosman line and
the new Taronga Zoo line opened in conjunction with the relocation of the
zoo from Moore Park to Mosman in October 1916.
Neutral Bay Wharf – Neutral Bay Junction – opened in June 1900. This line had a
combination of long, steep grades and only trams fitted with track brakes were
permitted to operate this line. Cremorne Wharf- the Spit – opened
December 1911. Taronga Park Wharf – Balmoral –
introduced December 1923. the service operated over the Athol Wharf line,
opened in October 1917, the Taronga Zoo line, a new connection in King Max
Street, Mosman opened in December 1923 and the Georges Heights/Balmoral line.
Taronga Zoo- Gore Hill and Lane Cove and to Chatswood – operated via the Taronga
Zoo and Mosman lines, Falcon Street to Crows Nest, then as for the services
from McMahons Point.=Second period 1909–1932=
In September 1909, a new line was opened from McMahons Point to Victoria Cross,
North Sydney and a new direct route was opened via what is now the Pacific
Highway from Victoria Cross to Crows Nest. The Milsons Point line was
deviated at North Sydney via Walker and Mount Streets to avoid congestion at
Victoria Cross. The McMahons Point line was opened to relieve the load on the
Milsons Point ferry wharf and connecting tramway. Services to Lane Cove and
Chatswood were altered to operate to and from McMahons Point via the new direct
route to Crows Nest. In conjunction with the construction of the Sydney Harbour
Bridge, the Milsons Point line was diverted to a new terminus in Glen
Street in July 1924. Escalators were provided to carry tram passengers to the
new ferry wharf below. Otherwise, services operated as during the first
period.=Third period 1932–1958=
In March, 1932 the Sydney Harbour Bridge with its associated railway and tramway
tracks was opened and all of the above services to and from Milsons
Point/McMahons Point were diverted to operate to and from Wynyard. The Milsons
Point and McMahons Point lines were then closed.
From Wynyard services operated to…. Lane Cove- Travelling along the Pacific
Highway via Gore Hill, turning left into Longueville Road, terminating near the
intersection of Rothwell Avenue, opposite the council chambers.
Chatswood- Turning right off either Falcon Street or the Pacific Highway in
Crows Nest, heading north along Willoughby Road, turning left onto
Mowbray followed by a sharp right onto Penshurst Street before turning left on
Victoria Avenue, where the line terminated at Chatswood railway station,
providing passengers with a short interchange between train services.
Northbridge – closed beyond Cammeray in May 1936 and beyond Falcon Street, North
Sydney in January 1948 The Spit and Spit Junction line
travelled northeast along Military Road passing through Neutral Bay Junction,
Cremorne Junction, and Spit Junction, veering to the left onto Spit Road at
Spit Junction, before diverting onto Parriwi Road and terminating near the
foot of the Spit Bridge. Balmoral – reduced to limited services
outside ferry operating hours following the introduction of the co-ordinated
tram/ferry scheme in May 1952. This scheme was brought in following the
government’s purchase of Sydney Ferries Limited, and was designed to encourage
greater use of ferries. Taronga Park – reduced to limited
services outside ferry operating hours as stated in relation to the Wynyard –
Balmoral service. All of these lines remained open until
the general closure of the North Sydney tramways in June 1958, except for the
Northbridge / Suspension Bridge line, and the withdrawal of full-time services
from Wynyard to Balmoral and Taronga Zoo as stated above.
Cross-country services during this period were…
Neutral Bay Wharf – Neutral Bay Junction – closed in May 1956. As mentioned
above, this line had a combination of long, steep grades and windy track, and
only trams fitted with track brakes or dynamic brakes were permitted. The
single track down Hayes Street was the steepest unassisted in Sydney.
Cremorne Wharf- The Spit – the Cremorne Wharf line closed in April 1956.
Mosman Wharf – Cremorne Junction. The Mosman Wharf line closed in November
1955. Athol Wharf – Balmoral A feature of this
line was the steep grade down to the wharf at the terminus. Runaway trams
plunged into the harbour in 1942, 1952 and 1958.
Taronga Zoo- Lane Cove and Chatswood – operated via the Taronga Zoo and
Military lines, Falcon Street to Crows Nest, then as for the services from
Wynyard Services also operated as follows
Balmoral- Lane Cove and Chatswood – The line from Balmoral opened as a branch of
the Georges Heights line in May, 1922 and was one of the last tram lines to be
opened in Sydney. It was a difficult route to construct on account of the
height above sea level and the short distance to be traversed. Apart from the
direct city service to Wynyard via the Sydney Harbour Bridge, cross regional
services ran to Lane Cove, Athol Wharf, Northbrdge and Chatswood, making it one
of the busiest lines on the North Sydney system.
Upon departure from the The Esplanade Terminus, at the corner of Mandalong
Road, trams travelled south-East along The Esplanade. After passing Botanic
Road the line swung right onto Henry Plunkett Reserve. From this point the
line went off road and ascended uphill onto its own reservation, travelling
through a narrow rock cutting, now public walking track. After a steep
ascent through the reserve the line crossed several small residential
streets along the way, such as; Mulbring, Gordon, Plunkett and
Beaconsfield Street, before once again entering onto Gordon Street where the
line swung right onto Middle Head Road. The tram then joined the main line at
the point where Bradleys Head Road, Military Road and Middle Head road meet.
Travelling along Military Road and then Falcon Street, services to Chatswood
turned right onto Willoughby Road, and eventually terminated at Chatswood
railway station, Victoria Avenue Terminus, while services to Lane Cove
travelled along the Pacific Highway, terminating at the Lane Cove council
chambers. Services to Wynyard via North Sydney swung left into Miller street
before crossing the Pacific Highway and entering onto the on ramp that led to
the steel arch bridge that once crossed over Bradfield Highway and thence to the
eastern side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
NB “Athol Wharf” above refers to the facility now known as “Taronga Zoo
Wharf” and now referred to as such on bus maps and signs.
Manly Lines The Manly lines originated on 14
February 1903 with steam motors hauling trailers on a line from Manly to Curl
Curl. Passenger traffic fell considerably by autumn that year, and
services reverted to horse-drawn trams from 20 July 1903. However, following
considerable increase in passengers during the next four years, steam trams
were returned from 1 October 1907. A line was built to The Spit, and the
Manly to Curl Curl line was progressively extended to Brookvale,
Collaroy, and Narrabeen. A branch was run to Harbord. Electrification
commenced with the construction of the line to The Spit, and was extended
throughout the system. The Narrabeen line was also used for carrying freight,
for a spur was run to the freight wharf at Manly, and goods sidings were built
at Balgowlah in Sydney Road near Wonganella Street; at Brookvale from a
line in Alfred Road short of Federal Parade; and at Narrabeen near King
Street. Various track layouts and routes existed in the early days in the
vicinity of the Manly terminus, with quite different arrangements existing in
1903, 1911, 1912, and 1914. The routes prior to 1914 used The Corso and North
Steyne, but from 1914 were confined to Belgrave Street. The Manly lines closed
in 1939. The Manly lines, which were administered
by the Railways, suffered from maladministration, resulting in
considerable overcapitalisation of the network, unnecessary re-routing and
re-building of the track at Manly terminus. Consequently, the system never
made a profit. Re-building the terminal at Manly terminus several times,
accompanied by costly property resumption, accounted for huge
expenditures with little gain. In 1919 planning began to move slightly the
balloon loop at Manly, requiring demolition and re-building the Pier
Hotel. Rebuilding track in Belgrave street and the terminus was estimated to
cost £5,695, while land resumption including demolition of the Pier Hotel
was estimated at £40,000. The hotel was demolished in 1924.
The Department was slow to provide a speedy service. It persisted in
scheduling the long-distance trams behind the all-stops. It rejected
residents’ suggestions to schedule the Narrabeen tram first, and to make the
first set-down Dee Why or similar place. For nearly a decade from at least 1923,
residents had been asking for faster services to Narrabeen. The trip took 49
minutes. A new timetable was introduced from 1 November 1920, giving a trip time
of 39 minutes, but it proved unworkable and the timetable reverted to an old one
on 4 July 1921, back to 48 minutes. Residents wanted optional stopping and
express running to Dee Why from Manly. The Railways ignored those requests, and
persisted in running the Narrabeen tram from Manly, behind the all-stops trams
to Balgowlah and Harbord. Finally, when the Department moved to schedule
Narrabeen trams first, with first set-down at Dee Why from 25 November
1931, it took only 31–33 minutes by tram from Manly to Narrabeen, down from 39
minutes previously, and down from 49 minutes when the service was
inaugurated. =Manly–The Spit=
This line commenced at the Spit Bridge with a balloon loop. From the balloon
loop, in a reservation, the line ascended in a ROW beside Sydney Road,
Heaton avenue, crossed Ethel Street, still in a ROW alongside Whittle Street,
joining Sydney Road there. At Parkview street there was a semi-circular
deviation south, out of Sydney Road. At Park Avenue a ROW took the tram north,
then east alongside Raglan Street, eventually joining Raglan Street at
Kangaroo Road. From there, which was a junction for the Narrabeen line, the
line turned south, finishing at a large loop at The Esplanade. The Manly to Spit
section opened on 9 January 1911.=Manly–Harbord=
This line commenced at Manly, proceeded north along Belgrave Street, past the
turnoff for The Spit, at Raglan Street, then along Pittwater Road. Between
Queenscliff and Harbord roads, the line turned into a ROW, crossed Dalley
Street, and joined Cavill Street near Lawrence Street. The line turned into
Lawrence Street, then proceeded along Albert Street and Moore Road until the
terminus at The Esplanade, Freshwater Beach. The single-track branch to
Harbord was opened on 21 December 1926.=Manly–Narrabeen=
This line commenced at Manly, proceeded north along Belgrave Street, past the
turnoff at Raglan Street for the Spit, and on to Pittwater Road. It proceeded
past the turnoff to Harbord and continued along Pittwater Road, all the
way to Narrabeen at a bridge just north of Waterloo Road. This point was exactly
16 miles from Sydney. The line to Narrabeen opened on 8 December 1913. It
was always single track from Brookvale to Narrabeen terminus. The line was
wired with a catenary overhead, so apparently some high-speed running was
anticipated—consistent with the light railway legislation for the line.
Evidence of the catenary overhead is to be found in photographs in McCarthy’s
book. Enfield Lines
The Enfield system was a separate group of lines based around a depot in
Enfield, in Sydney’s inner southwest. The system began as a steam tramway
opening in 1891 between Ashfield Station and Enfield. In 1901, this line was
extended north to Mortlake, and in 1909 a branch to Cabarita Park was opened.
The system was electrified in 1912. Services operated from Ashfield Station
along Liverpool Road, Georges River Road, onto a reserved corridor that
swung off Georges River Road at a point roughly opposite Windsor Avenue. From
this point the corridor ran diagonally towards, then across Burwood Road and
onto what is now Tangarra Street East. The reserved corridor ended at Portland
Street, at which point the line continued west along the length of
Tangarra Street, then north along what is now Coronation Parade, back to
Liverpool Road heading east through Enfield, and then north along Burwood
Road through Burwood. The line then turned into Crane Street, then Majors
Bay Road and Brewer Street to Cabarita Junction. The line was double track
until this point, then it split into single-track branches to Mortlake via
Frederick, Vanhee and Gale Streets and Tenneyson Road, and to Cabarita via
Cabarita Road. Short services were turned back at Brighton Avenue, Plymouth
Street, Enfield, Burwood Station and Wellbank Street. Services operated every
five minutes between Ashfield and Wellbank Street in peak periods, and
every 15 minutes on the two branches. A depot on Tangarra Street, near Kembla
Street and Coronation Parade, served the lines. The lines closed in 1948, and
were replaced by buses. Tramway infrastructure was removed throughout
the route in 1951. The Tangarra Street depot was used by buses until its
closure in 1989. The depot was demolished to make way for housing. A
small brick hut used as a waiting room for passengers still stands on the
western side of the Coronation Parade reserve near Dean Street. This is one of
very few surviving remnants of the line. The reserved tramway corridor at Croydon
Park is now residential property from its eastern limit starting at Georges
River Road opposite Windsor Avenue and running diagonally to Burwood Road, and
also from Burwood Road to Tangarra Street East. Tangarra Street East, which
did not exist in the days of tram operation, follows the route of the
remainder of the corridor to its western limit at the intersection with Portland
Street. Castle Hill line
A steam tramway opened between Parramatta and Baulkham Hills in 1902,
and was extended to Castle Hill in 1910, carrying passengers and produce to and
from the area. This tramway departed at Argyle Street in Parramatta and tracked
north along Church Street to Northmead, then along Windsor Road and Old Northern
Road to Castle Hill. In 1919, the NSW government decided to convert the
tramway into a railway to encourage the subdivision of estates for residential
use. The railway line was extended to Rogans Hill in 1924. The line proved to
be unsuccessful and was closed on 31 January 1932.
Rolling stock In 1905 a general alphabetical
classification was introduced to the NSW Government Tramways. Generally the
letters A and B were given to steam stock with letters C and higher to
electric cars based on seating capacity. Perhaps the most renowned of the
electric trams that operated in Sydney were the O and P class trams, known at
the time as the footboard cars, after the surrounding footboard that
conductors precariously balanced upon. These were later known as toastrack
trams for their crossbench wooden seating layout. They had a seating
capacity of 80 and a crush capacity of 150, and it was this capacity that was
their selling point for Sydney’s crowded system. They were commonly coupled
together to run as double trams. 626 O class and 258 P class trams were
constructed from 1908, and some remained in service until 1960.
The first modern corridor style trams, the R class, were introduced in 1933.
The final order of cars was for the R1 class in the early 1950s. The R class
were unable to be coupled together. The R series offered their passengers a more
comfortable ride away from the elements, and featured mostly upholstered seating.
Some of these cars had not been in service long enough for a major overhaul
before their withdrawal in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Upon withdrawal, most cars were stripped of their metal components and bogies,
then burnt in an area of the Randwick Tramway Workshops known as ‘burning
hill’. Some were sold as stripped shells to private users to be used as shelters,
storage shed, etc. Some were preserved, mostly at Sydney Tramway Museum at
Loftus. Accidents
On 21 August 1924, a coupled set of E-class cars ran out of control near
McMahon’s Point, derailed and crashed into a house. There were two fatalities,
and the trams were extensively damaged. In 1929, a P-class tram crashed into a
barber’s shop on the corner of Quay and Ultimo Roads near Central Station.
Almost half of the tramcar ended up in the shop.
There were accidents at Athol Wharf, Taronga Park, when trams lost control
running down the steep hill and ended up in the harbour, in 1942, 1952 and 1958.
Scores of accidents – some fatal – befell tram conductors while collecting
fares from the footboard of moving trams. Very early trams were enclosed,
but those built from the early 1900s had no corridor. These trams included
E-class, K, L, P, and O-class. Many falls are recorded in the Sydney Morning
Herald. The most common injuries included death, head injuries including
fractured skull and concussion. Examples of fatal falls are found in the same
publication. Workshops
Locomotive workshops were established at King Street Randwick in 1881 to build
and service Sydney’s trams. In 1902 the workshops were renamed the Randwick
Tramway Workshops. The workshops grew rapidly to become one
of Sydney’s largest engineering establishments peaking in around the
1920s. Reduction in Sydney tramway diminished
the Tramway Workshops functions and led to its eventual closure in 1960/61.
Depots Dowling Street Depot served the lower
Eastern Suburbs, and inner southern suburbs. The largest tram depot in
Australia, it was the last to close in 1961. Now the site of the Moore Park
Homemaker’s Supacenta. Waverley Depot served the Bondi and
Bronte routes. Closed in 1959, now the site of a bus depot.
Rozelle Depot served the inner western suburbs routes to Leichhardt, Balmain,
Birchgrove, Abbotsford and Lilyfield. Closed in 1958, now under redevelopment.
Newtown Depot served routes via King Street Newtown to Summer Hill,
Canterbury, Earlwood, and services to Glebe. Closed in 1957, has been
deliberately neglected to the point of collapse. In 2012 the forecourt was
converted into a public plaza, providing a new entrance to Newtown railway
station. North Sydney Depot served the lines via
North Sydney. Closed in 1958. The open part was converted into North Sydney bus
depot, while the car sheds were retained and incorporated into a supermarket.
Ultimo Depot served routes to Pyrmont, Ryde, and Erskineville. It was situated
on the eastern side of Harris Street adjacent to the Darling Harbour goods
railway. It closed as a tram depot in 1953, becoming a bus depot, which later
closed. Rushcutters Bay Depot served the Watsons
Bay line. Closed in 1960. Fort Macquarie Depot served the Circular
Quay- Railway service, and services to Woolloomooloo. Closed 1955, now the site
of the Sydney Opera House. A large balloon loop encircled the depot
allowing trams to turn around without changing ends.
Manly Depot served the isolated Manly lines until closure in 1939.
Enfield Depot served the isolated Ashfield- Mortlake/ Cabarita lines.
Closed in 1948 and reused as a bus depot until it closed in 1989.
Rockdale Depot served the isolated Rockdale–Brighton-Le-Sands line. Closed
1949. Tempe Depot served the Cooks River and
Marrickville/Dulwich Hill lines. Closed 1954, became a bus depot then closed.
Used as a storage facility for withdrawn government buses. Former site of the
Sydney Bus Museum before the museum moved to Leichhardt Depot. In 2010 it
reopened as a bus depot. Leichhardt Depot was only a storage
depot for trams. Served as a bus depot till a new depot was opened next door in
2009. It is now the site of the Bus and Truck Museum.
Reminiscence No. 11 electric C-class Sydney Tram
built by Hudson Bros that went into service on the early electric tramline
from Rose Bay to Ocean Street, Woollahra, on 29 August 1898 on static
display at Powerhouse Museum, Sydney On Glebe Point Road a small section of
the original tram tacks were uncovered during roadworks in late 2009. The City
of Sydney have left these exposed to serve as a historical reminder.
A section of uncovered tramway track is on O’Dea Avenue in Zetland. A single
track is visible through the concrete road surface for a few hundred metres.
Occasionally other buried sections of track are exposed when roadworks are
carried out. For example, at the intersection of Victoria Avenue and
Penshurst Street, Chatswood, extensive tram tracks are visible whenever road
resurfacing is carried out. There is a small section of tram track
going in both directions on Lower Fort Street Road in Millers Point.
There is a small fragment of tram track exposed in the Moore Park grounds near
the Sydney Cricket Ground. There is a small fragment of tram track
exposed on Old South Head Road, Watsons Bay at the top of Heart Break Hill.
The tracks in Pitt and Castlereagh Streets were asphalted over, and were
not removed. Several ornate tram shelters still
stand, such as at the corner of Park and Elizabeth Streets, City.
At North Bondi and Bronte, bus shelters are built into small cuttings that were
previously tram stops. Ornamental rosettes located where
overhead wiring span wires were attached can be seen on many older buildings and
rock faces – there are seven on a rock wall near the Sydney Opera House at the
site of Fort Macquarie Depot. Many street corners where trams turned
were ‘cut-back’ to allow space for trams to turn, and subsequently many buildings
on such corners still have rounded fronts.
The abnormally wide median strip in Anzac Parade south of Kingsford once
accommodated tram lines. When walking up the steps to The Gap at
Watsons Bay, there is flat ground in between two sets of steps. This
continues for a fair way in both directions, and is the old tram right of
way. The Ultimo Tram Sheds are now preserved
by the Powerhouse Museum. Tunnel Portals to Wynyard from the
Sydney Harbour Bridge still exist and can be seen from the pedestrian walkway.
Former location of Wynyard tram platforms is now part of the Wynyard
Lane Car Park at the station. Millers Point tram tracks were buried by
bitumen when the lines were closed, as the line which comprised the stop at
Millers Point where the current buses terminate and return up town, was dug up
around 1979-80 and the tram lines were removed and a new road surface laid.
A map of these and other surviving physical remnants has been created. See
“Sydney Tramway Remnants Map” in “External Links” below.
Legislation The following Acts of the NSW Parliament
applied to tramways. This section will be expanded as more acts are added to
the online legislation database of the New South Wales Government. In quoting
the long title, the names of streets and roads have been left in the form given
in the legislation, but modern forms are used in the notes.
Pitt-street Tramway Act of 1861 No 12a: “An Act for the construction of a
Tramroad from the Redfern Railway Terminus to the Semi-Circular Quay.
[30th April, 1861.]” – only allowed the use of “horses or other animals of
draft”. Pitt-street Tramway Act of 1861 Repeal
Act 1866 No 28a: “An Act to repeal the Pitt-street Tramway Act of 1861. [6th
December, 1866.]” Redfern to Hunter-street Tramway Act of
1879 No 14a: “An Act for the construction of a Tramroad from the
Redfern Railway Terminus to Hunter-street Sydney. [7th May, 1879.]”
Authorised the first line of what was to become one of the largest tramways in
the world. Consolidated Revenue Fund Act 1879 No
20a: Allocated 11 000 pounds for the construction the Redfern to Hunter
Street line, including rolling stock. Tramways Extension Act 1880 No 11a: “An
Act to authorise the construction and maintenance of Tramways along certain
Streets and Highways in the City and Suburbs of Sydney and elsewhere. [28th
April, 1880.]” – authorized the first parts of what was to become the Bondi
Line, as far as Bondi Junction, a branch via Crown and Cleveland Streets to Anzac
Parade, the first part of the Coogee line as far as Randwick, the first part
of the Bronte line from Bondi Junction to Charing Cross, the line in George
Street from Town Hall to Railway Square, the first part of the Botany line, the
first part of the Canterbury line, the Glebe Point line and some other sections
that were not built. Jeanneret’s Tramway Act: “An Act to
authorize the construction and maintenance of a Tramway along
George-street Parramatta, [9th August, 1881.]” Authorized the Parramatta Park –
Redbank Wharf private steam tramway, the last steam tramway in Sydney.
Appropriation Act of 1883 No 14a: Granted a gratuity of 300 pounds to the
widow and five children of a tram conductor accidentally killed while on
duty. Tramways Declaratory Act 1883 No 18a:
“An Act to declare legal the employment of Steam Motors on Tramways constructed
worked or maintained in pursuance of the “Tramways Extension Act 1880. [2 June
1883.]” – legalised the use of steam motors on the tramways, such use having
been previously declared illegal by the Supreme Court.
Saywell’s Tramway Act of 1884: “An Act to authorize the construction and
maintenance of a Tramway from the proposed Bay-street Station on the
Illawarra Railway to and along Lady Robinson’s Beach. [6th March, 1881]”
Balmain Tramway Act of 1886: “An Act to authorize the Borough of Balmain to
contract for the construction and maintenance of Tramways within the said
Borough. [30th July, 1886.]” West Wallsend and Monk-Wearmouth Railway
Act of 1886: “An Act to enable the West Wallsend Coal Company and the
Monk-Wearmouth Colliery Estate Company of Australia to construct a Railway from
the West Wallsend Coal-fields to the Sydney and Waratah Railway. [27th
August, 1880.]” Saywell’s Tramway Act Amendment Act: “An
Act to amend “Saywell’s Tramway Act of 1884. [28 April 1887.]” Confirmed the
existing loop at Rockdale Station and allowed up to two further loops to be
built. Willoughby and Gordon Tramway Act of
1887:”An Act to authorize the construction and maintenance of a
Tramway from the terminal point of the Saint Leonards Cable Tramway Saint
Leonards to Forest Reserve No. 97 parish of Gordon. [13th July, 1887.]”
Authorized a private tramway via Miller Street, Palmer Street and Bellevue
Street, Cammeray then through private land and across Long Gully, i,e, what
became the Northbridge line. The Schedule to the Act describes the route
proposed to take the line from Long Gully to East Willoughby.
Government Railways Act of 1888 No 9a: “An Act to make better provision for the
management of the Government Railways and Tramways of New South Wales and for
other purposes connected therewith. [17th May, 1888.]” – replaced the
Commissioner for Railways by three Commissioners, and allowed for a
separate railway and tramway construction authority.
Public Works Act of 1888 No 11a: “An Act to provide for the constitution of an
Authority to investigate and report upon proposals for Public Works and the
carrying out thereof when authorized by Parliament, to make better provision for
the acquisition of land for carrying out such Works, and for other purposes in
connection therewith. [6th June, 1888.]” – established the Parliamentary Standing
Committee on Public Works, to consider and report upon all non-military public
works the estimated cost of completing which exceeds twenty thousand pounds. If
approved by the Committee, an Act of Parliament had to be passed to authorize
the work. Works costing up to 20,000 pounds could be approved by the
Governor, i.e. effectively by the Minister.
North Shore, Manly, and Pittwater Tramway and Railway Act of 1888: “An Act
to authorize the construction of a Tramway from the northern terminus of
the North Shore Cable Tramway to the Spit at Middle Harbour, and from the
Spit aforesaid to Manly Village, and a Light Rail way thence to Pittwater,
Broken Bay. [10th January, 1889.]” – authorized a private tramway from the
end of the Milsons Point to Ridge Street cable tramway to Manly, and a light
railway from Manly to Pittwater. Appropriation Act of 1889 No 33a:
Allocated funds for the expenses of the Royal Commission appointed to inquire
into the charge made against Members of Parliament and others in connection with
the proposed leasing of the Government Tramways
Willoughby and Gordon Tramway Act Amending Act: “An Act to amend the
“Willoughby and Gordon Tramway Act of 1887.” [17 September 1890.]” – altered
the route of the Northbridge line between Cammeray and the Long Gully
Bridge, and authorized its extension to East Willoughby and branches to what was
later the Northbridge terminus, to Middle Cove and an extension of the main
line from East Willoughby to Castle Cove. The actual routes and terminii are
difficult to identify, because most of the roads named in the Schedules to the
Act do not exist on modern maps, and may only ever have existed on plans of the
various estates. Loan Act of 1890 No 33a: “An Act to
authorize the raising of a Loan for the Public Service of the Colony and for
other purposes. [20th December, 1890.]” – Allocated 75 000 to be spent on
additional rolling stock and to meet expenses of experiments in connection
with electric trams King to Ocean Street Cable Tramway Act
of 1892 No 10a: “An Act to sanction the construction of a Cable Tramway from
King-street via William-street, in the City of Sydney, to Ocean-street, in the
Borough of Woollahra. [16th March, 1892.]”
Willoughby and Gordon Tramway Acts Amending Act of 1893:: “An Act to amend
the “Willoughby and Gordon Tramway Act of 1887″, and ” Willoughby and Gordon
Tramway Act Amending Act.” [14 February 1893.]” – increased the amount of
private land to be taken from a width of 22 feet to 132 feet, again amended the
route approaching the south end of Long Gully Bridge, and amended the route of
the main line to East Willoughby. George-street and Harris-street Electric
Tramway Act 1896 No 11a: “An Act to sanction the construction of an Electric
Tramway from Circular Quay, in the City of Sydney, to the Redfern Railway
Station, and along Harris-street from its intersection with George-street to
its intersection with John-street in the said city. [14th September, 1896.]”
Authorized the first permanent electric line forming part of the main system.
Loan Act of 1896 No 33a: “An Act to authorise the raising of a Loan for the
Public Service of the Colony, and for other purposes. [16th November, 1896.]”
– allocated 150,000 pounds for electrification of existing tramways and
for electric rolling stock, and 130 500 pounds for construction of the George
Street and Pyrmont electric lines. Loan Act of 1897 No 43: “An Act to
authorise the raising of a Loan for the Public Service of the Colony, and for
other purposes. [10th December, 1897.]” – allocated 20,000 pounds for additions
to workshops and buildings, additions to tramway lines and rolling Stock, and for
other purposes. Public Works Act 1900 No 26: “An Act to
consolidate the Acts relating to Public Works.” [22 September 1900.] – clarified
and consolidated existing legislation. Electric Tramway Act 1900 No 63: “An Act
to sanction the construction of an electric tramway from Belmore Park
through Castlereagh, Bligh, and Loftus Streets to Fort Macquarie, returning
through Pitt-street, and certain works in connection therewith ; and for other
purposes.” [5 December 1900.] Sutherland to Cronulla Tramway Act 1908
No 16: “An Act to sanction the construction of a tramway from
Sutherland to Cronulla; and for other purposes. [15th December, 1908.]” –
authorized the original steam tramway to Cronulla, on a different alignment to
the present railway. Harris-street to Evans-street, Balmain,
Electric Tramway Act 1908 No 25: “An Act to sanction the construction of an
electric tramway from Harris-street, via Miller-street, Abattoir-road, Glebe
Island Bridge, and Weston-street to Evans-street, Balmain; and for other
purposes. [21 at December, 1908.]” – authorized the connecting line from
Pyrmont to Rozelle, via Glebe Island Bridge.
The Spit to Manly Electric Tramway Act 1908 No 26: “An Act to sanction the
construction of an electric tramway from The Spit to Manly ; and for other
purposes. [21st December, 1908.]” Cremorne Tramway Act 1909 No 12: “An Act
to sanction the construction of an Electric Tramway from the Military-road,
North Sydney, to Cremorne Point; and for other purposes consequent thereon or
incidental thereto. [7th December, 1909.]”
Darley-road, Randwick, to Little Coogee Tramway Act 1910 No 32: “An Act to
sanction the construction of an Electric Tramway from Darley-road, Randwick, to
Little Coogee ; and for other purposes. [28th December, 1910.]” – Authorized
what was later known as the Clovelly Line.
Tramways Act 1911 No 22: “An Act to authorise the carriage of goods upon
tramways ; to amend the Government Railways Act, 1901; and for purposes
incidental thereto. [21st December, 1911.]” – authorized the carriage of
goods on tramways, except on the George Street and Pitt/Castlereagh Streets
lines in the City. Transport Administration Act 1988 No 109
[repealed]: “An Act …. to provide for the administration of public transport
in New South Wales; and for other purposes.” – allows the Director-General
of Transport to develop or operate light rail systems, or facilitate their
development or operation by other persons – was the legislative basis for
the first part of current line from Central Station to Lilyfield, and
provides governing law for that line. Transport Administration Amendment Act
1996 No 128: – established the Transport Administration Corporation to set
regulations applying to the current line from Central Station to Lilyfield,
including extensions. Transport Administration Regulation 2000
– Reg 14 [repealed]: Declared the route of the extension of the current line
from Wentworth Park to Lilyfield. Transport Administration Amendment Act
2003 No 96: Established the Transport Infrastructure Development Corporation
Legacy The Sydney government bus network
generally reflects the area and routes covered by the tram network. Many
suburbs with “Junction” in their name reflect their tramway heritage, such as
Bondi Junction, Randwick Junction, and Maroubra Junction.
The easternmost southbound traffic lanes on the Sydney Harbour Bridge were
originally constructed to carry the City and Suburban Railway but were used for
trams, and are still separated from and clearly distinguishable from the other
six road lanes, with the remnants of the eastern Milsons Point Station located at
the site of the northern toll plaza. Wynyard Railway Station platforms are
still numbered from 3 to 6. Platforms 1 and 2 were tram platforms and the
railway platforms were never renumbered when the tram platforms were removed.
Shoot through like a Bondi tram is a phrase still used in Sydney, meaning to
depart in haste. The tram museum is in the suburb of
Loftus, in Sydney’s south. See also
Light rail in Sydney Trams in Australia
List of light-rail transit systems Public transport in Sydney
Transportation in Australia Tram controls
Further reading D Budd et al.: Wait Here for Trams:
Sydney’s Trams, the Last Decade. Nostalgia Press March 1974
D Keenan: Tramways of Sydney. Transit Press 1979
Railpage- Sydney Trams Action for Public Transport – Sydney
tramways References
External links Articles on trams and tram deaths in the
Dictionary of Sydney Sydney’s Tram History
Sydney Tramway Museum The current Sydney light-rail line
Sydney Tramway Remnants Map link dead 272015
Tram pictures in Randwick Council Library – enter ‘tram’ as the keyword
Photographs from NSW State Records on flickr

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