Here is the general view of the museum entrance with a fine example of a Sydney tramway signal box. These appeared in the City and show the railway heritage of the tram system which worked under combined tram and rail administration until 1930.

From the Museum.

Interior of J class 675. These cars ran from 1904 to 1936. This one was found entombed in fibrocement walls and had been at a place called Punchbowl for 60 years. The truck is from Brussels. These cars replaced cable cars to Edgecliffe and were themselves replaced by new R class cars in 1936.

Interior of R1 car 2001. The R1 class was a development of the R class to enable more seats to be available. They were built from 1935 to, surprisingly, 1953. I understand that more would have been ordered had the authorities not decided to abandon the streetcar system in Sydney in that year. 2001 is painted blue as a reproduction of the recruiting livery for the Royal Australian Air Force of the early 1950s.

Here is the interior of the Museum. Here is F class car no. 393 - one of the first bogie cars in Sydney introduced in 1899 and running until 1916. In front of it is the counterweight "dummy" introduced in 1903 to allow trams to use the 12.1% grade in Darling Street, Balmain. This consisted of a counterweight trolley running in a tunnel beneath the road, connected by a cable passing round a pulley at the top of the hill and gripping the dummy pictured here running on the roadway. A tram descending to the wharf would propel this dummy and raise the underground counterweight up the hill. When the tram returned the descending underground weight would drive this dummy forward and assist the tram up the steep hill! It was last used in 1955 when the route closed.

One of the display boards inside the museum. There are dozens of these covering the extensive route system of the Sydney Trams.

This photo is to pay respects to my now long suffering partner Enid, who knew me 45 years ago as a tram fan and is now once again with me to find nothing has changed. She endured this visit but enjoyed so much of Australia and New Zealand and, I might add, IFRM Singing activities and all else in Rotary.

Modern trams now exist in Sydney. This is the new extension to Dulwich Hill.

Sydney Tramway Museum

2014 Sydney Convention

A Visit Managed by an IFRR Member at Convention 2014

Australia is a long way from any other country except perhaps New Zealand so it is perhaps no surprise that very few IFRR members attended and it was not worth having a stand in the House of Friendship. This also meant that there was no special trip organised around the Convention but this Rotarian can never resist a Tram (or Streetcar to US members) Museum. Thus a third visit in 30 years to the Sydney Tramway Museum at Loftus was a must.

My partner Enid and I duly set out on the hour's rail journey from Circular Quay in the centre of Sydney, having first of course reached there from the Convention Centre. This is well out in the southern suburbs of Sydney but at least the rail station is right next to the Museum so there is not so far to walk. It is also next to the Royal National Park so there is plenty to keep you there for the whole day.

The museum was officially opened at its original site on the edge of the Royal National Park by NSW Deputy Premier Pat Hills in 1965. It relocated to the present larger site across the Princes Highway adjacent to Loftus railway station in March 1988. The museum has an extensive collection of trams from Sydney and cities in Australia and around the world. There are two tram lines from the museum used to run tram rides for museum visitors. One line runs 1.5 km north almost to Sutherland railway station, paralleling Rawson Avenue in the way Sydney's tram system operated. The second utilises the Royal National Park branch line constructed in 1886 before the line closed in June 1991. The Museum converted the line to light rail standards and connected it to the existing museum line to establish what is now a most popular means of access to the world's second oldest national park. Sadly this part of the tramline was closed when we visited as the overhead line had been damaged by a rather badly driven high truck. It is now reopened. The track is check railed rather than grooved rail and this reflects what was the norm for the Sydney system, rather unusually to British eyes. The Museum is run entirely by volunteers and self funds its day-to-day activities, restorations and construction programs from gate takings and donations from the public.

We were met by the Chairman of the Society, Howard Clark, by prior arrangement, and taken on a full tour of the museum and its workshop. Howard travels the tramway museum world regularly so you may well meet him on a streetcar near you from time to time! We also rode two of the trams in service on that day. First no. 625, a J type, built in 1904 by the Meadowbank Manufacturing Company. This was acquired in 1996 and restoration completed in 2009 by Bendigo Tramways (that place near Melbourne is another story!). Then as a contracst on no. 2001, a relatively modern R1-Class Tram of 1951 built by Comeng in Australia. It was acquired by the Museum as a body in 2001 and restored at Bendigo the same year for the proposed Federation Tramways. Stored at Canberra until 7/10/2005, it is now in full operation at the Museum. This is the type of car that closed the system in 1961. They used car 1961 as the last car to commemorate the year! The blue livery is not original. Green and cream would be more normal.

In this short piece it is impossible to recount just how many trams are on show, as well as many other artifacts relating to Sydney and other tramways. A series of fascinating photographs is naturally available as well as some interesting maps of the Sydney system, one of which is on sale in the Museum shop. It is quite possible to spend a whole day at the Museum and miss the National Park but if you ever return to Sydney, do try and do both. Sydney's original tram routes took in the City and the beaches and even ran across the Harbour Bridge and the Museum will make you wish you could ride these wonderful routes all over again. It is well worth your time.

Much more information is available on the Museum's website and you can find a fleet list there too.

You can be assured of a warm welcome if you visit.

Like many other cities in the world, Sydney has since regretted losing its trams and now has a new light rail route from the main rail station through Darling Harbour on an abandoned freight rail line. Naturally we rode this as well and I include a photo taken at the end of the recent extension to Dulwich Hill. The cars are numbered in a sequence directly after the last cars running in 1961!

More information is on the tram website:
Worth the ride when you are there again.

Robert Bracegirdle
Rotary Club of Loughborough Beacon (D-1070)