When Sydney had trams, too

rozelletram

My girlfriend Kate, who is a local history buff, found this tram, circa 1951, online at the Leichhardt Council website.

It would have been powered by the White Bay Power Station which is a gigantic derelict building near our house. When we first moved here I couldn’t stop looking at it — such a towering, monstrous structure. I’ve been finding out bits and pieces of history about it ever since.

whitebay

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38 thoughts on “When Sydney had trams, too

  1. Steven Noble

    So what are we gonna do to get them back again? In the Sydney Central Courier last week, Iemma said he was open to the idea, but nothing will happen without concerted pressure.

  2. Steven Noble

    So what are we gonna do to get them back again? In the Sydney Central Courier last week, Iemma said he was open to the idea, but nothing will happen without concerted pressure.

  3. Rob Irwin

    I have a very dear friend from the US who lives right by these landmarks — I’ll have to show her what it was like, back in the day.

  4. David Flynn

    Sydney once had a _fantastic_ light rail system, once the city got over the fragmentation of many individual networks during the great stoush between the companies running trains and buses (Dan, last year I found in the local library an excellent history of Sydney’s public transport system with stacks of historical docs, will see if I can find the title/author details for your Kate).

    My father says that in many city streets they never even removed the tram tracks, they just poured bitumen right over them, leading to the uncovering of many tram tracks a while back during roadworks!

    Sadly, while other cities are rediscovering light rail as a solution to CBD congestion and inner-city redevelopment, Sydney seems fixated on cars and totally oblivious of the benefits of light rail in a modern city.

  5. David Flynn

    Sydney once had a _fantastic_ light rail system, once the city got over the fragmentation of many individual networks during the great stoush between the companies running trains and buses (Dan, last year I found in the local library an excellent history of Sydney’s public transport system with stacks of historical docs, will see if I can find the title/author details for your Kate).

    My father says that in many city streets they never even removed the tram tracks, they just poured bitumen right over them, leading to the uncovering of many tram tracks a while back during roadworks!

    Sadly, while other cities are rediscovering light rail as a solution to CBD congestion and inner-city redevelopment, Sydney seems fixated on cars and totally oblivious of the benefits of light rail in a modern city.

  6. Craig Middleton

    Dan – I thoroughly recommend to you the Loftus tram museum, where you can inspect and ride a variety of trams. They also have a great video (maybe on DVD by now) about Sydney’s trams.

  7. Craig Middleton

    Dan – I thoroughly recommend to you the Loftus tram museum, where you can inspect and ride a variety of trams. They also have a great video (maybe on DVD by now) about Sydney’s trams.

  8. Craig Middleton

    Pt 2 – The ironic thing is that few people mourned their loss at the time because the ‘latest and greatest’ were diesel buses, and with growing private car ownership increasing the space on the roads soon started to get crowded

  9. Craig Middleton

    Pt 2 – The ironic thing is that few people mourned their loss at the time because the ‘latest and greatest’ were diesel buses, and with growing private car ownership increasing the space on the roads soon started to get crowded

  10. Steven Noble

    Craig, it’s not surprising at all, in my opinion.

    Go to California, and you’ll see cliffs with houses at the bottom — houses that used to be at the top. Archeologists believe that the people of Easter Island actually deforested their island completely, leading of course to the end of their society. Why would a nation of car lovers behave any better?

    What we need right now is a Keating/Kennett/Whitlam type character who is willing to tell the state/nation what it needs, instead of the gutless poll-watching of our present NSW government.

    Then, maybe, we’d actually have the courage to invest in light rail, fast track the new rail line, etc, etc.

  11. Steven Noble

    Craig, it’s not surprising at all, in my opinion.

    Go to California, and you’ll see cliffs with houses at the bottom — houses that used to be at the top. Archeologists believe that the people of Easter Island actually deforested their island completely, leading of course to the end of their society. Why would a nation of car lovers behave any better?

    What we need right now is a Keating/Kennett/Whitlam type character who is willing to tell the state/nation what it needs, instead of the gutless poll-watching of our present NSW government.

    Then, maybe, we’d actually have the courage to invest in light rail, fast track the new rail line, etc, etc.

  12. Dan Warne

    Sydney so does not need a Kennett type character. He shoveled sand in the faces of cameramen and showed contempt for what the people wanted. And now Victoria has a disgusting ginormous low-class casino complex dominating its waterfront.

  13. Dan Warne

    Sydney so does not need a Kennett type character. He shoveled sand in the faces of cameramen and showed contempt for what the people wanted. And now Victoria has a disgusting ginormous low-class casino complex dominating its waterfront.

  14. Stoo

    The City of Sydney council prepared and presented a proposal which reintroduces trams to the streets of Sydney.

    This paper critically analyses various alternative forms of public transport, discusses these within the wider context of implementations in other cities around the world and provides an integrated solution for Sydney.

    http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/Council/documents/meetings/2005/cosc_cm_mc2_council_210205_AttachmentA.pdf

    It is an interesting read. For those interested in further comment from transport enthusiasts, there has also been previous discussions on the ‘aussiehighways’ and ‘aussiehwys’ Yahoo Groups.

    Stuart.

  15. Stoo

    The City of Sydney council prepared and presented a proposal which reintroduces trams to the streets of Sydney.

    This paper critically analyses various alternative forms of public transport, discusses these within the wider context of implementations in other cities around the world and provides an integrated solution for Sydney.

    http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/Council/documents/meetings/2005/cosc_cm_mc2_council_210205_AttachmentA.pdf

    It is an interesting read. For those interested in further comment from transport enthusiasts, there has also been previous discussions on the ‘aussiehighways’ and ‘aussiehwys’ Yahoo Groups.

    Stuart.

  16. Rob Irwin

    It’s telling that light rail is generally most supported by people within cooee of where a light rail stop would be and, for them, it would indeed be a wonderful thing… just as it was “back in the day”.

    Problem is, most of Sydney lives outside of Sydney. A commute of 40-50km per day, by car, isn’t weird or strange for a Sydney worker. For folks like this, which make up an extraordinary proportion of the working population of this town, trams are nothing more than another hindrance to their (neccessary) automobiles.

  17. Rob Irwin

    It’s telling that light rail is generally most supported by people within cooee of where a light rail stop would be and, for them, it would indeed be a wonderful thing… just as it was “back in the day”.

    Problem is, most of Sydney lives outside of Sydney. A commute of 40-50km per day, by car, isn’t weird or strange for a Sydney worker. For folks like this, which make up an extraordinary proportion of the working population of this town, trams are nothing more than another hindrance to their (neccessary) automobiles.

  18. Steven Noble

    If a car driver is struck behind a tram, they’ll feel the tram is blocking the road. However, if all those traim passengers travelled by car instead, the road would be far more congested. They may be inner city residents, but by taking the tram they’re unblocking the road for everyone.

    But you’re right, at present cars are the most straightforward way of reaching the city from many outer suburbs. This is why the decade-plus timetable for the new north/south rail line is ridiculous. Heavy rail is essential infrastucture and, like light rail for the inner city, it should be a state and national priority.

  19. Steven Noble

    If a car driver is struck behind a tram, they’ll feel the tram is blocking the road. However, if all those traim passengers travelled by car instead, the road would be far more congested. They may be inner city residents, but by taking the tram they’re unblocking the road for everyone.

    But you’re right, at present cars are the most straightforward way of reaching the city from many outer suburbs. This is why the decade-plus timetable for the new north/south rail line is ridiculous. Heavy rail is essential infrastucture and, like light rail for the inner city, it should be a state and national priority.

  20. Rob Irwin

    It’s only going to get worse, too. All these new suburbs from the North West to the West to the South West… and none of them (that I can recall) have had new train stations built inside them, or nearby.

    (And BTW, when I said commutes of 40-50km in that last post… that was a one-way estimate. Call it an 80-100km round trip for a lot of people that takes around 4 hours of the day, all told, even on supposed fast motorways that you have to pay for…)

  21. Rob Irwin

    It’s only going to get worse, too. All these new suburbs from the North West to the West to the South West… and none of them (that I can recall) have had new train stations built inside them, or nearby.

    (And BTW, when I said commutes of 40-50km in that last post… that was a one-way estimate. Call it an 80-100km round trip for a lot of people that takes around 4 hours of the day, all told, even on supposed fast motorways that you have to pay for…)

  22. Ray Beattie

    I had the pleasure of riding in the sydney trams as a kid & when my dad took me to the football (SCG)we would catch a bus to the rail station (Central)& a tram to SCG.We live at Enfield 8miles from GPO & it took us 1hr from home to seat (SCG)Try doing that in a car, even with the traffic lights green all the way & no trams? It would take you 20mins from your car to your seat.So if you make comment No what you are talking about. Also when was the last rail track upgrade North done? Been 2 tracks for as long as???
    Tram tram network in sydney was huge & was only political interference from the petroleum & car makers that brought it undone because you didn’t need a car plus you didn’t have to have parking stations every where. The tram tracks where pulled up at 2am in front of the Major sydney tram sheds to stop them from going out the next morning,& without the public being tolded.
    Look up the Sydney tram track network if you can???

  23. Ray Beattie

    I had the pleasure of riding in the sydney trams as a kid & when my dad took me to the football (SCG)we would catch a bus to the rail station (Central)& a tram to SCG.We live at Enfield 8miles from GPO & it took us 1hr from home to seat (SCG)Try doing that in a car, even with the traffic lights green all the way & no trams? It would take you 20mins from your car to your seat.So if you make comment No what you are talking about. Also when was the last rail track upgrade North done? Been 2 tracks for as long as???
    Tram tram network in sydney was huge & was only political interference from the petroleum & car makers that brought it undone because you didn’t need a car plus you didn’t have to have parking stations every where. The tram tracks where pulled up at 2am in front of the Major sydney tram sheds to stop them from going out the next morning,& without the public being tolded.
    Look up the Sydney tram track network if you can???

  24. len miller

    my father was a tram driver in the 50,s and up till the end of trams in sydney
    we went to school, shopping , the beach and to visit family and friends on trams
    but sadly now all we can do is remember

  25. len miller

    my father was a tram driver in the 50,s and up till the end of trams in sydney
    we went to school, shopping , the beach and to visit family and friends on trams
    but sadly now all we can do is remember

  26. len miller

    if you want to see tram photo's never seen before go to yahoo7 then to groups
    and then to sydney trams photo's

  27. len miller

    if you want to see tram photo's never seen before go to yahoo7 then to groups
    and then to sydney trams photo's

  28. len miller

    if you want to see tram photo's never seen before go to yahoo7 then to groups
    and then to sydney trams photo's

  29. len miller

    if you want to see tram photo's never seen before go to yahoo7 then to groups
    and then to sydney trams photo's

  30. Paula Williams

    I found your web page by accident. I absolutely agree with all the comments in relation to trams in Sydney. They instituted the T-Way in the west – why could they have not used that as a tram line, and it would certainly have alleviated some of the traffic problems for people in the west. It would have served as a link to train stations and saved a lot of cars travelling to the city on the M4. I would love to see trams in the west.

  31. Paula Williams

    I found your web page by accident. I absolutely agree with all the comments in relation to trams in Sydney. They instituted the T-Way in the west – why could they have not used that as a tram line, and it would certainly have alleviated some of the traffic problems for people in the west. It would have served as a link to train stations and saved a lot of cars travelling to the city on the M4. I would love to see trams in the west.

  32. Frank Ferra

    Unfortuneatly Sydney has really stuffed there transport issues up.I have lived in balmain for 9 yrs and i work in Wooloomooloo. I have also lived in Melb and i love the tram system there.But even the thought of putting them back into use here would be ludicrous, they cant even get the road and bus systems right.My wife and i both work in Potts Point and we drive in as i have free parking.Its actually cheaper,quicker and more reliable for us to do this.We are the 2nd last bus stop to the city and the buses are packed and dont stop which gets frustrating,fares keep going up no wonder everyone wants to drive.As for the White bay power station- bulldoze it into the ground it is nothing more than an eyesore, put it to better use. I cringe everytime i see it and the rubble from white bay pub, i feel like im driving through some crapped out industrial area.My visitors to sydney cant believe how bad it is.

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