Melbourne cable tramway system

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Cable tram dummy and trailer on the St Kilda Line in Melbourne in 1905.

The Melbourne cable tramway system was a cable car public transport system, which operated between 1885 and 1940 in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

The system grew to about 75 kilometres (47 mi) of double track (103.2 route km or 64.12 route miles) and 1200 cars and trailers, on 15 routes radiating from the centre of Melbourne to neighbouring suburbs.[1] It was one of the largest cable car systems in the world, comparable with those of San Francisco and Chicago.[1]

With the exception of the Northcote tramway, which was privately built and managed,[2] the infrastructure of the network was built by the Melbourne Tramway Trust, which consisted of representatives of the 12 local councils served by the system. The Trust bought land, laid the tracks, and built the cable winding houses. The Melbourne Tramway and Omnibus Company (MTOC) provided the trams and operated the services from 1885 to 1916[3] under an exclusive 30-year franchise arrangement with the Victorian Government. MTOC had been founded by Francis Boardman Clapp, an American emigrant, who had purchased the Victorian rights to the patents of the cable system developed by Andrew S. Hallidie. George Smith Duncan, who had built the Roslyn cable tramway in Dunedin, New Zealand, was the engineer in charge of the development of the Melbourne cable network.[3]

On the expiration of the MTOC's franchise in 1916, the cable tram network was transferred to the Victorian Government, and then passed to the government-owned Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board (MMTB) on 1 November 1919. The Northcote tramway was transferred to the MMTB on 20 February 1920.[2]

Although the first electric tram service was introduced in 1889, and ran for seven years between the outer Melbourne suburbs of Box Hill and Doncaster, the electric tram network did not seriously commence until 1906, when the Victorian Railways built an "Electric Street Railway" from St Kilda railway station to Brighton, and the North Melbourne Electric Tramway and Lighting Company built an electric tramway towards Essendon from the terminus of the cable system.[4] From 1924 the cable tram lines were progressively converted to electric traction. The last Melbourne cable tram ran on 26 October 1940, on the Northcote to Bourke Street route.[5]

Cable tram routes[edit]

Spencer Street - Richmond tramway[edit]

Opened on 11 November 1885. The trams operated along Spencer Street from Bourke Street to Flinders Street, Flinders Street to Wellington Parade, and Bridge Road to Hawthorn Bridge. The powerhouse was located on Bridge Road, at Hoddle Street, and has since been demolished to provide for a left-turn lane. The remains of the Richmond cable tram depot now form part of the Amora Hotel, near Hawthorn Bridge. The trams comprised a double-ended dummy and trailer, operated by a single-jaw side grip on a 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) gauge tram line.[3]

North Fitzroy tramway[edit]

Opened on 2 October 1886, with the powerhouse located on the north-east corner of Victoria Parade and Brunswick Street.[3][6]

Victoria Bridge tramway[edit]

Opened on 22 November 1886, with the powerhouse located on the north-east corner of Victoria Parade and Brunswick Street.[3][6]

Clifton Hill tramway[edit]

Opened on 10 August 1887, with the powerhouse located on the south-east corner of Nicholson Street and Gertrude Street.[3][7]

Nicholson Street tramway[edit]

Line opened on 30 August 1887, with the powerhouse located on the south-east corner of Nicholson Street and Gertrude Street.[3][7]

Brunswick tramway[edit]

Opened on 1 October 1887, with the powerhouse located on the north-west corner of Brunswick Road and Black Street.[3]

Johnston Street Bridge (Collingwood) tramway[edit]

Opened on 21 December 1887, with the powerhouse located on the north side of Johnston Street, near Brunswick Street.[3]

Brighton Road tramway[edit]

Opened on 11 October 1888, with the powerhouse located on the south-east corner of St. Kilda Road and Bromby Street.[3]

Prahran tramway[edit]

Opened on 26 October 1888, with the powerhouse located on the north-west corner of Toorak Road and Chapel Street.[3]

North Carlton tramway[edit]

Opened on 9 February 1889, with the powerhouse located at the south-west corner of Rathdowne Street and Park Street.[3][8]

Toorak tramway[edit]

Opened on 15 February 1889, with the powerhouse located on the north-west corner of Toorak Road and Chapel Street.[3]

North Melbourne tramway[edit]

Opened on 3 March 1890, with the powerhouse located at the south-west corner of Queensberry Street and Abbotsford Street.[3][9]

West Melbourne tramway[edit]

Opened on 18 April 1890, with the powerhouse located at the south-west corner of Queensberry Street and Abbotsford Street.[3]

South Melbourne tramway[edit]

Opened on 17 June 1890, with the powerhouse located on the south side of City Road, near Cecil Street.[3]

Port Melbourne tramway[edit]

Opened on 20 June 1890, with the powerhouse located on the south side of City Road, near Cecil Street.[3]

Windsor to St. Kilda Esplanade tramway[edit]

Opened on 17 October 1891, with the powerhouse located on the north side of Wellington Street, near Marlton Crescent.[3] This was the first major line to close, on 29 August 1925.[5]

Northcote tramway[edit]

Melbourne's only privately built and operated cable tramway.[2] Opened on 18 February 1890, it was originally independent of the rest of the cable system. The powerhouse was located on the north-east corner of High Street and Martin Street.[3][10] The powerhouse building is currently occupied by a panel beating business.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Melbourne's cable trams", David Hoadley, retrieved 2011-10-17 
  2. ^ a b c "Northcote: the on again, off again cable tramway", Friends of Hawthorn Tram Depot, retrieved 2011-10-03 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s "Cable Tramways in Australia and New Zealand", Joe Thompson, retrieved 2011-10-17 
  4. ^ "The First Electric Trams", Yarra Trams, retrieved 2011-10-17 
  5. ^ a b "Trams in Melbourne". Yarra Trams. Retrieved 2015-09-02. 
  6. ^ a b "Former Brunswick Street cable tram engine house, Victorian Heritage Inventory Number H7822-0984". Victorian Heritage Database. Heritage Victoria. Retrieved 2011-12-10. 
  7. ^ a b "Former Nicholson Street cable tram engine house, Victorian Heritage Register (VHR) Number H0584, Heritage Overlay HO181". Victorian Heritage Database. Heritage Victoria. Retrieved 2011-12-10. 
  8. ^ "Former North Carlton cable tram engine house, Victorian Heritage Register (VHR) Number H0718, Heritage Overlay HO120". Victorian Heritage Database. Heritage Victoria. Retrieved 2011-12-10. 
  9. ^ "Former cable tram engine house and cable tram track formation, Victorian Heritage Register (VHR) Number H0988, Heritage Overlay HO283". Victorian Heritage Database. Heritage Victoria. Retrieved 2011-12-10. 
  10. ^ "Former Northcote Cable Tramways Site, Victorian Heritage Register (VHR) Number H2129, Heritage Overlay HO45". Victorian Heritage Database. Heritage Victoria. Retrieved 2011-12-10. 

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

The Melbourne Cable Trams Matthews, H.H. Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin, January 1941