Last Tram Sydney 1961

 
  edison Chief Commissioner

The last tram to run on the Sydney network in Feb. 1961 was 131S, the breakdown car which followed the passenger convoy from Kensington Junction to Randwick Workshops.

Or was it?

Rumour had it at the time that some tramway staff took a P-class car, in the dead of night, for a final fang along the reserved track that ran parallel to Alison Road, next to Centennial Park.  There are obvious reasons why this could not have happened.  Or did it?

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  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia

Rumour had it at the time that some tramway staff took a P-class car, in the dead of night, for a final fang along the reserved track that ran parallel to Alison Road, next to Centennial Park.  There are obvious reasons why this could not have happened.  Or did it?
edison

How very interesting.  What is meant by your comment "reserved track" in that it was intended to be reserved for what?
  GeoffreyHansen Minister for Railways

Location: In a FAM sleeper
I think he means some of the off street trackage of which there was alot around the Moore Park and Anzac Parade area.

Good on them if they did.
  Newcastle Express Chief Commissioner

What is meant by your comment "reserved track" in that it was intended to be reserved for what?
bevans
Edit: Hey wait on, I thought an admin, mod etc would be telling us to do this or do this!
Edit: Someone beat to it while making this post!

I find it that you from Melbourne, and you don't know what reserved track is? Surprised

Would these help?:-
Victoria Pde, Royal National Park tram line, St. Kilda & Pt. Melbourne via their former train lines.

For Sydney: La Perouse, Watson Bay, and I think it was Balmoral.
For Newcastle:, various places, such as Wallsend, West Wallsend & Speers Point tram lines.
For Adelaide: Most of the Glenelg tram line (or is that light rail line now?)
  GeoffreyHansen Minister for Railways

Location: In a FAM sleeper
Going a bit off topic but did Brisbane, Perth, Hobart or Launceston have much reserved track?
  MetroFemme Chief Train Controller

Of the new Sydney tram developments do any of these run on the historical routes being discussed around this thread?
  TomBTR Train Controller

Location: near Sydney
Of the new Sydney tram developments do any of these run on the historical routes being discussed around this thread?
MetroFemme
Yes indeed! The run along Anzac Parade should be the same. However the new route does not get all the way to Laperouse yet, and there is a new route via Devonshire St rather than Oxford St. Also they have chosen not to reuse the old tram right of way through the parks, rather they are taking down 100 year-old fig trees to make a new parallel route. The motives are not clear: perhaps just to allow buses to continue to use the old tram reservation, the cynics are saying it is to support future commercial development in the parklands. I don't know.

As a child I was taken by tram by my grandmother to see Bare Island from Laperouse. I hope that I shall live long enough to take a grandchild to do the same.
  georges Train Controller

What is meant by your comment "reserved track" in that it was intended to be reserved for what?
Bevans
More on Sydney tramway reservations on this page - http://www.bondivillage.com/tramsyd.htm


Nice little rumour about the P Class which I suppose after all this time might never be verified.

But just a couple of comments. Originally it was said that 131S was the last tram off the streets following the passenger cars. If you watch the dvd "Shooting Through", then on the run of the last trams, ie the Saturday afternoon, 3 R1 cars work to La Perouse in convoy (or did one nip down to Maroubra Beach?). There is no video evidence of 131S being present and I am sure it would have been noted if it had been there. Then in the sequence of entering the Randwick workshops, an R1 passes through and the gate can be seen being closed behind it. Again if 131S was there the gate would have been held open for a few moments longer. I think there is youtube of a re-enactment of the gate closing after the last tram at Loftus in 2011 (50 years since closure day at the museum).

And then why get a P class out for a run? The P's had been withdrawn some months earlier. The most available tramcar type was the R1 as the R's had also been gone for some time. One would think that it would have taken quite an effort to extract a P Class from storage as I would guess that they had all yet to be disposed of.
3l diesel
This video -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SADQyImniSI - shows the final service as well as on some preceding days. The film shows that a breakdown tram had been needed to rerail a tram travelling on the disused Moore Park sidings for a last farewell. The commentary states that the breakdown tram (a converted O class) was summoned from Dowling Street Depot, not far away. Its number is indistinct.

A teenager, I was present at Robertson Road (Kensington Junction) for the period from the trams' arrival on their outward journey from the City until their return from La Perouse. The conductor of one of the returning trams allowed me to raise the rear pole to the overhead wire when the tram needed to change direction towards Randwick. A breakdown tram, identical to the one in the video, was certainly present at Robertson Road for part of the final passenger tram convoy, at least on its first arrival. Of course I do not recall its number. If it had come from Dowling Street, as the one in the video had, it might have returned there. That would explain why it was not filmed entering Randwick Depot. If so, its likely later journey to Randwick Depot from Dowling Street could have been the final journey of the original tram operations. EDIT An alternative explanation for the absence of 131S from the filmed closing of the gates at Randwick is that it had been positioned earlier in the returning convoy.

The video seems to show R class, as well as R1 class trams, in operation in the system’s  final days.
  409 Minister for Railways

Adding to the tangent discussion about reserve track sections, the Glenelg line was not the only example of reserve track in Adelaide (although certainly the most notable example).

Other examples on the old system in Adelaide include:

Col Light Gardens line:
King William Road to Goodwood Road and along Goodwood Road on the final stretch of the line to the terminus in Col Light Gardens.

The first stretch of reserve track was known as Fowlhouse Alley and ran parallel to the Glenelg line, creating the unique spectacle of four tram tracks in the same alignment.

Hyde Park line:
The Hyde Park line included a reserve track section running on a reverse curve through Heywood Park. This section of line was also fenced off.

Kensington Gardens line:
After leaving Grenfell Street in the CBD, the line passed through the eastern parklands on an embankment running through to Kent Town. The embankment is still visible in Rymill Park today.

Cheltenham line:
A very short reserve track section existed between Hill Street in North Adelaide and Hawker Street in Brompton.

Morialta line:
This is something of an unusual case in that the track on this branch line was laid to the side of the road and not in the middle.

There are a couple of other very small examples but these are the main ones I could think of.
  gunzel42 Locomotive Fireman

Kensington Gardens line:
After leaving Grenfell Street in the CBD, the line passed through the eastern parklands on an embankment running through to Kent Town. The embankment is still visible in Rymill Park today.
409
Most of the embankment has now disappeared as excavation works for the oBahn tunnel devour the east parklands.

To balance this though, the State Budget included provision for a tram extension along the eastern section of North Terrace, so rails will again extend east of King William Street!

Cheers

Kym
  Fred Scuttle Junior Train Controller

Location: Point Clare, NSW
To comment on georges post, the video that has been posted is the same footage that I noted the gate closing in, namely from "Shooting Through". I wasn't there and was too young to remember even if I had been, so I am certainly not going to argue whether 131S was present on the last day or not. My reference is "Shooting Through" and trying to recall what I may have read over time. Just because I can't recall mention of 131S on the last day doesn't mean it wasn't there.


But I understand the P class were withdrawn about 12 months before final closure. I further understand that in the final weeks/months, the R Class had also been withdrawn from regular service leaving the R1's to the end. I further understand that the R Class tour involving the derailment occurred on the Sunday before closure. The car involved was the famous R1740 which of course is a favourite (well me anyway...) at the tramway museum. So R's were still around but not in regular service at the end.


I would have thought that any last run would not have been to Dowling Street Depot as the cars there would need to have been transferred to Randwick and the government had learned from the Watson's Bay experience years before that the overhead had to come down immediately so as to ensure the removal of trams from the streets. Would a section have been retained to do the simple transfer from Dowling Street to Randwick, even for a few days?


As said, I wasn't there, and have no information one way or the other on 131S's movements. I am simply trying to conjecture in my mind what was a most likely scenario. Even if not true, let the story of the P that night go down in tramway folklore!
3l diesel
I believe that on the previous evening (Friday, 24/2/61), all cars not required for traffic on the last day were driven to Randwick Workshops after the final evening peak, with the crews involved being bussed back to Dowling Street. On the day, trams at the end of their runs ran direct to Randwick Workshops, rather than running into Dowling Street. Also, I'm pretty sure that the breakdown car under discussion was actually 141s, rather than 131s (which, I think, was a D class scrubber). 141s was a converted O Class car (former O 1030), and was allocated to Dowling Street at the time of closure.
  Fred Scuttle Junior Train Controller

Location: Point Clare, NSW
3l diesel, I was going to post much the same last night, once I consulted my Sydney tramway books - but I lost my internet (the vagaries of prepaid). Now that I’m back online, I’ll add a couple of things to what you’ve posted (which was pretty comprehensive).

At the time of closure, there were two breakdown cars allocated to Dowling Street Depot – 141s (ex O 1030) and 142s (ex O 1229). There is photographic evidence that at least one of these two cars saw action on the last day of operation. The late Weston Langford, a Victorian enthusiast, travelled to Sydney (along with many other railfans) in February 1961. On his website, “Weston Langford Railway Photography”, there is a picture of 142s on the Anzac Parade reserved track at Kensington Junction on the last day – see [color=#0563c1][size=3][font=Calibri]http://westonlangford.com/images/photo/100508/[/font][/size][/color]. Some of the other photos taken on this day give a good idea of the appearance of the reserved track section alongside Anzac Parade and Alison Road.

As for the last P Class run, from what I’ve read, it most likely occurred not in the dead of night, but on the afternoon of Sunday, 19 February 1961. On that day, the last Sunday of operation of the original tramway system, the last enthusiast tours took place. The principal tour utilised R’s 1740 & 1800, and traversed every bit of available track – which resulted in 1740 derailing in Moore Park (fortunately without damage). 141s attended, while R1 2086 (then the newest car in service – the newest car of all, R1 2087, had already been withdrawn due to collision damage) took on 1740’s passengers. Once it was found that 1740 was OK to run, it resumed the tour, catching up with the other cars at Maroubra. Also running was R1 1961, running to and from La Perouse and Maroubra with the “Last Tram Mail” (commemorating the carriage of mail on NSW trams in the late 19th & early 20th Centuries). Ian MacCowan, in his book The Tramways of New South Wales, writes (on p145) that, at much the same time as these tours, “ . . . . . . several employees took out coupled P’s 1483 and 1707, for a short run, including operating “wrong-road” along the former Up Coogee Line track to Randwick Workshop gate, that portion of track only being used as a link between the workshops and Dowling Street Depot”. MacCowan makes mention of this also on page 130, adding that the P’s also ran “ . . . along a disused line near Moore Park”. Most likely this would have been the “third road” (a relief line along the western side of Anzac Parade between Dacey Avenue and Cleveland Street). It seems that most enthusiasts missed this unofficial run, being as they were, preoccupied with the “official” tours.

On the other hand, the New South Wales Tramcar Handbook 1861-1961 states, in the entry on P Class cars (p42): “Last special operation with cars 1483 and 1497 on 19th February 1961”. Dowling Street Depot had extensive storage sidings, so it is reasonable to assume that there would have been a number of set-aside (but operational) trams at Dowling Street until the end. Moreover, 1483 & 1707 had been used on a P Class farewell tour on Sunday, 9 October 1960. If they’d been placed in the sidings after this tour, they would have been at the front of the sidings, and therefore, easily accessible. Also, P 1497 & R 1740 had already been earmarked for preservation by SPER, which would suggest that they were also kept in an accessible area of the depot.

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