Cable Tram Model

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'Dummy motor' or grip car model: the 'dummy' contained the mechanism that gripped the moving underground cable and gave each tram its motion.
Image: Ben Healley
Source: Museum Victoria

This beautifully detailed quarter-scale model of a Melbourne cable tram has an interesting history.

The closed trailer or saloon car is believed to have been displayed at the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition as an American-style horse tram, but is similar in design to the trailer cars used by Melbourne’s cable trams. By 1888 it was displayed in its present form at the Melbourne Centennial Exhibition with a grip or dummy car added to promote the introduction of trams in Melbourne.

There are differences in the appearance of the trailer model compared to the actual cable trams used in Melbourne. For example the model has nine windows on each side rather than the eight used on the real trailer cars.

The first cable tram service in Melbourne ran on 11 November 1885 from the city to Richmond. Melbourne’s cable trams were painted in their own distinctive colour scheme for each route.

The model is painted to represent a Collingwood & Clifton Hill line tram which ran via Smith & Gertrude Streets and along the south end of Nicholson Street (then called Evelyn Street) to the city. This service first ran in August 1887.