Posted by: maximos62 | May 8, 2011

Remnants of Sydney’s Once Great Tramway

Trams Passing the Queen Victoria Building

State Records, NSW.  Some Rights Reserved.

A chance encounter
Cycling along Johnston Creek Annandale yesterday, now a concrete  encased storm water drain marking the border between Leichhardt and the City of Sydney,  I noticed that the doors to the old tramway sheds lying between the creek and Maxwell St, Glebe, were open.  While there’s a gate barring the way into the sheds, it’s one of those Claytons gates with a good 750mm of clearance below, so almost anyone is capable of ducking underneath.  Neighbourhood youth have been doing this for years.

Chatting with some of my students last year I learned that there are several old trams still inside these neglected structures.  With a small amount of  Googling, I actually came across the images of the old trams on a Sydney City Council website, later the Sydney Morning Herald carried a short piece on the trams. Reading this I learned of their sad fate.

Quickly I parked my bike, rolled under the gate and made my way, iPhone in hand, to the open doors.  The first shed was empty save for the the accumulated detritus of another era, but certainly nothing of value.  Skirting around the edge of the shed on an eleveated walkway, I noticed a young woman.  She was standing in an opening that seemed to lead to another large room. Making a little noise to mark my approach, so as not to startle her with a sudden appearance, she seemed completely disinterested, her attention drawn to something in the next room. Stepping past her I looked for the first time at the tram graveyard, then groups of people milling around in various parts of a vast and junk strewn space.  Everything was wildly decorated in graffiti. The old corridor trams no exception.

Neglected trams at Sydney's Harold Park

This was a sad encounter.  Little functional remains.  The trams are mere shells, their window glass missing their surfaces thickly veneered with graffiti.

Suddenly a couple of robust young when in dark clothes, heads covered with black beanies, crept into view.  Both were brandishing automatic revolvers.  Before I could react another young man appeared. He wore a T Shirt sporting the words ‘The Peoples Republic of Coogee’.

“Don’t be disturbed, we’re shooting a film and you might see people carrying guns”.

He seemed singularly disinterested in my preoccupation with the trams.

“I used to ride in those, all the way to Coogee”, I said.

“Really?”, he replied.

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For some interesting links to remaning elements of Sydney’s once vast tramway network visit bondivillage.com


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