Miller Street entrance to Preston Workshop in April 2013
|Location||Miller Street, Preston|
The Preston Tram Workshops were erected by the Melbourne & Metropolitan Tramways Board in 1924-26, to provide manufacturing and maintenance facilities for Melbourne's trams in conjunction with the introduction and production of the W class trams.
The earlier tram maintenance workshops were located on the corner of Holden Street and St Georges Road, Fitzroy, where today only a tramways substation remains, following demolition and sale in 1937.
In the mid-1920s, the MMTB sought a suitable place to build its own tramcars, having previously manufactured the steel chassis and truck frames at the Cable Repair Workshops at Nicholson Street, Fitzroy North, built the wooden bodywork in temporary sheds behind the Fitzroy cable car shed, done painting and varnishing at Preston and Glenhuntly depots, and let tenders to private companies for completed bodies. The running maintenance and overhaul was conducted at workshops attached to the Malvern, Hawthorn, Coburg and Essendon Depots.
A single comprehensive workshop was desperately needed, and a site was ultimately chosen opposite the Preston Depot on St Georges Road adjacent to the Miller Street line, covering 17 acres. Tenders were let progressively for each building - the paint and car erecting shops and first traverser completed early in 1925; the main store and sub-station in 1925-26; the large truck, wheel, machine, fitting and electrical shops and second traverser to the car shop in late 1926; the timber storage racks, office block, blacksmiths and plate shops, foundry and pattern shop in the next few months; and finally the mess hall and amenities.
Preston became the most modern tramway workshop in Australia and took over the maintenance, overhaul and new construction tasks for the whole system. W-class cars were built to replace cable trams for the cable conversions, and subsequently xx W1 and W2 types were built at the workshops.
A distinctive workplace culture grew up around the workshops, evident in the oral traditions and characters of the workshops, such as Norm Cross, who may have been the inspiration for Malcolm in the film of the same name by Nadia Tass.
The Tudor style “Melbourne Room” which provided a ball-room, theatre, concert and lecture hall for tram events, still features the gaily decorated stage that hosted 3DB's Lunchtime Funtime with Bill Collins.
In 2014, a project commenced to revitalise the workshop. The heavy maintenance facility will be reconfigured, a new servicing facility for the E-class trams built and seven kilometres of track relaid. It is scheduled to be completed in mid-2016.
- K S. Kings ‘50 years of the M.&.M.T.B’, Running Journal, Vol 6 No 3 Dec 1969
- Vines, G. 2010 Melbourne Tramway Heritage Study, report to Heritage Victoria
- Kevin Murray, “Preston Tram Workshops, Life after Malcolm, Atlantis Found in Preston,”
- New Preston depot Public Transport Victoria
- Coleman Rail Awarded Preston Tram Workshops Redevelopment Coleman Rail
- "Tender awarded for Preston Tram Depot redevelopment" Railway Digest August 2014 page 25
- Media related to Preston Workshops at Wikimedia Commons
- Heritage Listing
- Culture Victoria, Oral history interview
- Railpage Tram Photo Gallery