Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board

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The Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board or MMTB (officially M&MTB) was an government-owned authority that was responsible for the tram network in Melbourne, Australia between 1919 and 1983, when it was merged into the Metropolitan Transit Authority. It had been formed by the merger of a number of smaller tramway trusts and companies that operated throughout the city.

The MMTB's main maintenance facility was Preston Workshops, with depots at Brunswick, Camberwell, Coburg, East Preston, Essendon, Footscray, Glenhuntly, Hawthorn, Kew, Malvern, North Fitzroy, South Melbourne (Hanna Street), and Thornbury.


In 1869 Francis Boardman Clapp set up the Melbourne Omnibus Company which ran horse-drawn trams in the inner suburbs of Melbourne. The company carried 4,990,077 passengers.[1] By 1882 the company had over 1600 horses and 178 omnibuses.[2] In 1885 the company carried 11,659,937 passengers.[1]

In 1885 Clapp's Melbourne Omnibus Company was granted a 30-year exclusive franchise for a cable tram network in Melbourne, with no competing lines being permitted. Clapp reorganised the company as the Melbourne Tramway and Omnibus Company (MTOC). A total of 15 lines were built, opening progressively between 1885 and 1991.

The first serious electric trams in Melbourne began in 1906, when the North Melbourne Electric Tramway and Lighting Company[3] commenced operating an electric tram line from the terminus of the cable tram to Essendon, the motivation being the selling of electricity to customers along the route.[4]

In the 1900s and 1910s, the government legislated for the formation of suburban electric tramway trusts to build and operate electric trams outside MTOC's exclusive licence area. These were:

When the MTOC franchise ended in 1916, the entire operation of the Melbourne cable tramway system was handed over to the State government.[5] The Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board (MMTB) was formed in 1918 to take over the street tramways systems in Melbourne. It had the responsibility of operating all tramways within a sixteen kilometre radius of the Melbourne GPO, the only exceptions being the lines operated by Victorian Railways.

Takeover of tramways network[edit]

The MMTB commenced operations in 1919, taking over the cable tram network in 1919. On 2 February 1920, it took over the six suburban electric tramway trusts, which were dissolved later that month. The MMTB also succeeded the Cable Tramway Board and the Royal Park Horse Tramway.

The MMTB take over the North Melbourne Electric Tramway and Lighting Company on 21 December 1922, after the State Government bought the Company's interest in both the lighting and tramways undertakings.

Conversion of cable system[edit]

The MMTB progressively converted cable tram lines to electric trams commencing in 1924, with the last Melbourne cable tram ceasing operation on 26 October 1940.[6]


The MMTB was established under the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Act 1918 (No.2995). The seven members of the Board, including a Chairman and a Deputy Chairman, were appointed by an order of the Governor-in-Council dated 22 July 1919. The inaugural chairman was Alexander Cameron who had been chairman of the Prahran and Malvern Tramways Trust.[7][8]

The MMTB was an independent statutory body which reported to the Minister of Public Works until 1952 and subsequently to the Minister of Transport.


Five people held the role of MMTB chairman from 1919 when the MMTB was established to 1983 when it was absorbed by the Metropolitan Transit Authority.[9]


  1. ^ a b "THE MELBOURNE TRAMWAY AND OMNIBUS COMPANY.". Alexandra and Yea Standard, Gobur, Thornton and Acheron Express (Vic. : 1877 - 1908) (Vic.: National Library of Australia). 14 December 1888. p. 5. Retrieved 1 December 2013. 
  2. ^ "Francis Boardman Clapp - transport entrepreneur". Friends of Hawthorn Tram Depot. 2011. Retrieved 1 December 2013. 
  3. ^ "The North Melbourne Electric Tramways and Lighting Company Limited.". The Essendon Gazette and Keilor, Bulla and Broadmeadows Reporter (Moonee Ponds, Vic. : 1914 - 1918) (Moonee Ponds, Vic.: National Library of Australia). 6 August 1914. p. 5 Edition: Morning. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  4. ^ Melbourne's Tram History
  5. ^ Hoadley, David (1995). "Melbourne's cable trams". Trams of Australia. 
  6. ^ "Trams in Melbourne". Yarra Trams. Retrieved 2015-09-02. 
  7. ^ a b Jones, Russell (2009). "Alex Cameron: father of Melbourne’s electric trams". Friends of Hawthorn Tram Depot. Retrieved 4 November 2014. 
  8. ^ a b "PERSONAL: Alexander Cameron obituary". The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 - 1954) (Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia). 24 February 1940. p. 16. Retrieved 22 July 2013. 
  9. ^ a b c Jones, Russell (2004). "Fares please! An economic history of the Melbourne & Metropolitan Tramways Board: Assessment of leadership". Friends of Hawthorn Tram Depot. Retrieved 4 November 2014. 
  10. ^ Jones, Russell (2008). "Hector Hercules Bell – ringing in the new". Friends of Hawthorn Tram Depot. Retrieved 4 November 2014. 
  11. ^ Turnbull, Graeme (2001). "The Sir Robert Risson era: an enduring legacy". Friends of Hawthorn Tram Depot. Retrieved 4 November 2014. 
Preceded by
Various operators
Trams in Melbourne
Succeeded by
Metropolitan Transit Authority