Museum Victoria Home Marvellous Melbourne
Home Early Days Gold Rush Town 1880s Boom Powered City City of Contrasts Postwar City

Trams

The first cable tram in Victoria operated along Flinders Street to Richmond in 1885. Within five years, trams were ferrying people between the city and inner suburbs along 65 kilometres of tram tracks. The driving power for the underground cables came from engine-houses positioned at intervals along each route.

By 1916, these trams were carrying more than one hundred million passengers a year to and from the inner and middle suburbs, at speeds averaging 15 kilometres an hour, including stops. Major shopping strips such as Sydney Road, Puckle Street, Glenferrie Road and Chapel Street boomed.

The first electric tramway opened in 1906, and the gradual electrification of the entire tram system occurred during the 1920s and 1930s. The last cable tram running along Bourke Street to Clifton Hill ceased operation in 1940.

While many cities in the world, including most Australian capitals, were scrapping their tram systems from the 1950s, Melbourne not only retained its trams but continued to update the fleet. Melbourne's tracks and tramcars were in good order and the city is well-suited to trams, being relatively flat with wide streets. That no-one in authority ever made the order to get rid of them was one of the better non-decisions ever made by bureaucrats.

Trams are here to stay although the familiar sound of 'Tickets please' disappeared with conductors in 1998.


Conductor's notice
magnifyConductor's notice


Conductor's bag
magnifyConductor's bag


Ticket punch
magnifyTicket punch
© Museum Victoria Australia