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Jim’s Australiana Spot – 2UE - February 26, 2017

history of Sydney trams


1 How did the famous composer Isaac Nathan - the 'father of Australian Music' cause the closure of the 1st Sydney tram service in 1866?
  He was killed by falling under it
2 What was different about the EDGECLIFF and CROWS NEST tram systems after the steam trams came into service?
  They were CABLE operated
3 When the tram line was conveniently extended into the new Racecourse at Victoria Park, who OWNED the racetrack and what was his official position?
  Joynton Smith - he was Lord Mayor!

The Sydney tramway network served the inner suburbs from 1879 until 1961. In its heyday, it was the largest in Australia, the second largest in Commonwealth after London 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 (cf. about 500 in Melbourne today). Patronage peaked in 1945 at 405 million passenger journeys. It had a maximum street mileage of 181 miles (291 km), in 1923.

1881-1886 horse drawn railway to quay
1879-1910 steam cable and horse
1998 -1961 electric 300kms at peak - 405 million passengers 1945

• The Sydney tram power supply system was built using subway electrical equipment that was adapted from NEW YORK SUBWAY for tram usage.
• A generating plant was installed at Ultimo and White Bay.
• Footboard trams required the conductor to collect fares from the footboard of the car, as those trams had no corridor and 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 NSW. • • Between 1916 to 1932, there were 4,097 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 that saloon trams 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.



W T Goodge (‘The Colonel’)

He’s the latest evolution of a prehistoric type —
The man who always runs to catch the tram!
He’s never got the time to light his after-breakfast pipe —
The man who has to run to catch the tram!

He is all a ball of energy and vigour; couldn’t wait!
It is worse to be too early than it is to be too late!
He’ll be rushing up the garden path when Peter slams the gate
The man that has to run to catch the tram!

You can take him in his business; I’ll bet you ten to one
The man who has to run to catch the tram!
That he’s always in a hurry, and there’s mighty little done —
The same as when he’s running for the tram!

Doesn’t matter if a lawyer at the starting of the term,
Or the ‘I’ll-be-there-directly!’ of a tea and sugar firm —
It is still to-day the early bird that gathers in the worm;
Not the one who has to run to catch the tram!


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