Plenty of photographs from this event have been submitted to the Tramway Museum - St Kilda's Facebook page here:https://www.facebook.com/trammuseumstkilda
For an event organised by five Museum members all under the age of 30 (but with plenty of assistance both behind the scenes and on the trams), it was a bold undertaking but it is safe to say that last weekend's 'Trams de Nuit' event was a successful operation with plenty to keep our paying guests entertained and catered for. A total of 48 people came out for the event which had been marketed for not only rail and tramway enthusiasts but also amateur and professional photographers. The Museum particularly thanks the 12 members of the Edwardstown Photography Club who attended last Saturday as well one of our guests who came all the way from Perth for 'Trams de Nuit'. As well as the trams themselves, a total of 8 classic cars were in attendance to further build the photographic scenes and we sincerely thank the car owners who provided their vehicles for this event.
The weather last Saturday couldn't have been better as things last Saturday kicked off around 10:30am when the shunting of the trams started. Over the previous few weeks, a number of trams had been repositioned within the sheds to make this part of the operation as smooth as possible so by 1:30pm, all 8 trams for the event were in the yard ready to go. As well as members of the regular running fleet, 3 trams only used on special occasions were prepared and made ready, namely being trams 1, 362 and 378. Both 1 and 378 were last run in 2012 for the COTMA Conference that year but 362 made its' first public appearance since 2004 for this event. Trams 1, 118, 192, 264, 360, 362, 378 and 1013 were all ready and waiting for the public opening at 3pm. Prior to opening, 1013 was used on two service trips to ensure everything was ready on the line. The first run was to drop off a couple of large signs marking out the photographic area on the side of the lake at St Kilda while another trip was run around 2:30 to brief the crews attending on the set up for the night.
As well as the Museum grounds, a temporary terminus in the St Kilda town ship had been set up at Shell Street to allow for photographs of the trams and classic cars in a 'suburban' environment. In the weeks leading up to the event, all of the residents in Shell Street had been notified of what our plans were and embraced our activities with open arms. Once again, the Museum thanks everyone for your assistance. As well as the aforementioned lake side photo stop, the Samphire Road dirt road crossing was also used on one run to make the most of the spectacular sunsets that St Kilda can provide.
Anyway, back to the running of the event. The tram crews and classic car owners arrived at the Museum from 2pm to be formally briefed on the running of the event with everyone issued with a detailed running plan for the whole event. The staff requirements just to run the trams was far in excess of our ordinary operations with a total of four Motorman, two Conductors and one Dispatcher being required. The difference in numbers between Motorman and Conductors was to allow for enough crews to be at the Museum to do the shunts that would be necessary throughout the event. As well as the tram crews, we also had three volunteers assisting with the catering and a further volunteer running the shop.
At 3pm, we were ready and people started to come in. 45 minutes had been allowed for the 'Trams de Nuit' attendees to come in and also to brief everyone on not only routine house keeping but also about the event itself. A welcome bag full of goodies was issued out to everyone as they came through the doors.
At 3:45pm, the first trams were ready to run. A pair of H cars were run in the form of Tuscan and Cream H 360 and Silver and Red 362. Because Museum power supply cannot cope with the current draw of two H cars powering together coupled, it was decided to run the two trams in convoy thereby spreading the power load to an acceptable level. At the designated photostop, 360 was closely parked behind 362 so the impression of coupled set running could at least be given in the photographs. Some of you may be asking about mixed livery coupled sets of H cars and yes, it did happen during the 1950s and then in the 1970s when the fleet was being repainted to Silver and Red and then back to Tuscan and Cream. After the lake side photo stop, both trams proceeded to Shell Street where the waiting classic cars were which made for some classic tramway street scenes. When it was time to depart, everyone was loaded on to 360 for the trip back to the Museum. The reason for this was that 362 was going to be shunted to the side out of the main yard until it was next required in the program.
On arrival back at the Museum, 360 took its' place in a pre arranged line up of Adelaide trams showing the development of Adelaide trams between 1909 and 1929. From left to right, trams 1, 118, 192, 264 and 360 set the scene and a fine scene it was too. One added touch was the setting of the destination rolls on each tram for a particular Adelaide destination with the trams 'going' to Kensington, Henley Beach, St Peters, Cheltenham and Glenelg.
The next run was timed to coincide with the setting sun at St Kilda and for this, Melbourne W7 class tram 1013 and Adelaide A type 1 were selected. Both trams departed in convoy down the line stopping at the lake side photo stop, Shell Street terminus with the cars and also at Samphire Road crossing, both with and without classic cars. At Samphire Road, the group was once again consolidated on to tram 1013 for the trip to the Museum with number 1 running empty to the Museum and run in to the sheds to be stabled.
On arrival at the Museum on 1013, the passengers disembarked for dinner which had been set up in the yard. This was a BBQ but with a number of salad options and additional catering for passengers with specific dietary requirements. Dessert was also being prepared and was being loaded on to the restaurant tram. A 'fire pot' was also lit up for additional warmth and light. As dinner was being wrapped up, a workshops tour was run for those interested in seeing the behind the scenes workings of the Museum.
After the workshops tour, the restaurant tram was in position and made ready for the first of two scheduled 'dessert tram' workings although as you will see, plans had to be altered. Anyway, 378 led F1 type tram 264 down the line to the designated photo stop with a selection of cup cakes, lamingtons and chocolate dipped fruit were served on board. Around 10 minutes was allocated for photos at the photo stop with both trams in position before 378 departed solo for Shell Street. The reasoning behind this was to allow for time exposure photos of 264 by the lake. 378 arrived at the Shell Street terminus. Once again, a selection of cars were in attendance.
When working with heritage equipment, things can happen. After turning the tram around for the return trip, it was found that it would not depart for the return trip to the Museum. Some friendly banter with the car owners was had in the mean time and while their' offers for a tow were talked over, eventually 264 was coupled up to 378 for the tow back. To carry the passengers who were on 378, 362 was driven down as well creating a few unseen spectacles for everyone in the street. Not only three trams all parked on the side of the road but also the sight of one tram being towed by the other. 362 then departed with all the passengers while 264 towed 378 back to the Museum, both trams only carrying Museum staff. This was seen as an event in itself providing some unique photographs, not only at Shell Street but also at the Museum where the works tram (W2 354) was driven in to the yard as part of a shunt to accept the coupled set of 264 and 378. This created even more photographic opportunities for the photographers and everyone had an enjoyable time.
Once 378 had been delivered back, Trams de Nuit continued with the silver H car 362 making the final run for the night down the line. By this time, it was pitch black but the silver paintwork really stood out in the night light. The City lights reflecting over the water in the lake just added to the scenes captured. 362 arrived back at the Museum at 10pm with everyone in a jovial mood. Soon after, the final trams had been stabled in the sheds and Trams de Nuit concluded.
It was a great night had by everyone with many happy faces throughout the day and night. As I said earlier, it was a bold program but a very successful one.