Tramway Archaeology - Cable Tram Routes in Melbourne

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penov Chief Commissioner

Location: By the shore of Bass Strait.

As there is no Tramway Archaeology forum, I have collated information about the 18 former cable tram routes in Melbourne in this thread.

The may be some readers who could be interested and comments and any corrections would be welcomed.

 
penov Chief Commissioner

Location: By the shore of Bass Strait.

MELBOURNE  CABLE TRAM ROUTES

The following is a list of Melbourne Cable Tram Routes in  chronological order of opening.

Listed for each are the routes to the city, city terminus location, location of engine house and car shed for each line. The numbers were NOT route numbers .

OPENED BY THE M T O C , taken over by MMTB in 1920.

1. RICHMOND  ( Hawthorn Bridge)  Opened  9/1885 :

    Bridge Rd, Wellington Parade, Flinders St., Spencer St.

City Terminus : Spencer St north of Bourke St.

Engine House : Bridge Rd / Hoddle St

Car Shed : Bridge Rd, near terminus.

Closed :   Electrified 1925.

2. NORTH FITZROY ( St. Geo Rd / Barkly St ) . Opened 8/1886

   St Georges Rd, Brunswick St, Gisborne St., Collins St.

City Terminus : Collins St, at Spencer St.

Engine House : Brunswick St / Victoria Pde.

Car Shed : St Georges Rd / Holden St.

Closed : Electrified 1930.

3. VICTORIA BRIDGE  (Victoria St, Abbotsford ) Opened 11/1886

   Victoria St., Victoria Pde, Gisborne St., Collins St.

City Terminus : Collins St, at Spencer St.

Engine House : Brunswick St / Victoria Pde.

Car Shed : Victoria St near terminus.

Closed : Electrified 1929.

4. CLIFTON HILL ( Queens Pde). Opened  8/1887

   Queens Pde, Smith St, Gertrude St., Nicholson St., Spring St, Bourke St

City Terminus : Bourke St, at Spencer St.

Engine House : Nicholson St / Gertrude St

Car Shed : Queens Pde, near terminus

Closed :  Bus 1940 – Elec Tram 1956.

5. NICHOLSON STREET (cnr Park St. )  Opened 8/1887

   Nicholson St., Spring St, Bourke St.

City Terminus : Bourke St, at Spencer St.

Engine House : Nicholson St / Gertrude St.

Car Shed : Nicholson St, south of terminus.

Closed : Bus 1940 – Elec Tram 1957.

6. BRUNSWICK  ( Sydney / Moreland Rds) Opened 10/1887.

    Sydney Rd, Royal Pde, Elizabeth St.

City Terminus : Elizabeth St, at Flinders St

Engine House : Sydney Rd, Brunswick

Car Shed :  Sydney Rd, south of Moreland Rd.

Closed : Electrified 1936.

7. COLLINGWOOD (Johnston St Bridge) Opened  12/1887

   Johnston St, Elgin St,. Lygon St , Russell St, Lonsdale St

City Terminus : Swanston St, (Through –routed)

Engine House : Johnston St, near Brunwick St.

Car Shed : Johnston St, near terminus.

Closed : Taken over by bus route 1937. See Note 2.

8. BRIGHTON ROAD (South of Chapel St.) Opened 10/1888

  Brighton Rd, High St, St Kilda Rd., Swanston St.

City Terminus : Swanston St at Queensberry St

Engine House : St Kilda Rd /Bromby St

Car Shed : Brighton Rd , near Terminus                        

Closed : Electrified 1926. See Note 3.

9. PRAHRAN : (Chapel St., Alma Road) _ Opened 10/1888

     Chapel St.,Toorak Rd, Park St., Domain Rd, St.Kilda Rd, Swanston St.

City Terminus : Swanston St ( Through-routed)

Engine House : Toorak Rd / Chapel St.

Car Shed : Chapel St., near terminus.

Closed : Electrified 1926.  See Note 3.

10. NORTH CARLTON  (Park St / Rathdowne St ) Opened 2/1889.

     Rathdowne St., Elgin St., Lygon St, Russell St., Lonsdale St. Swanston St.

City Terminus : Swanston St (Through-routed)

Engine House : Rathdowne St, near terminus

Car Shed : Rathdowne St., near terminus

Closed : Taken over by bus route 1936. See Notes 2 & 3.

11. TOORAK  ( Toorak / Irving Roads). Opened 2/1889

      Toorak Rd, Park St, Domain Rd, St Kilda Rd, Swanston St.

City Terminus : Swanston St / Queensberry St.

Engine House : Toorak Road/ Chapel St

Car Shed :  Toorak Rd / Chapel St.

Closed : Electrified 1926.

12. FLEMINGTON BRIDGE ( Flemington / Mt. Alexander Rds) Opened 3/1890

     Flemington Rd, Abbotsford St., Queenberry St, Errol St., Victoria St, Elizabeth St.

City Terminus : Elizabeth St., at Flinders St.  (Through-routed  1925)

Engine House : Queensberry / Abbotsford Sts.

Car Shed : Flemington Rd, near terminus.

Curtailed to Nth Melb. 1925 , Electrified 1935. See Notes 1 & 3.

13. WEST MELBOURNE : (Abbotsford/Queensberry Sts)  Opened 4/1890.

     Abbotsford St., Spencer St., Lonsdale St., Elizabeth St.

City Terminus : Elizabeth St., at Flinders St

Engine House : Queensberry / Abbotsford St.

Car Shed : Victoria St., City

Closed : Taken over by Bus route 1935. See Note 2.

14 : SOUTH MELBOURNE ( Beaconsfield Parade / Victoria St) . Opened 6/1890.

      Victoria St., Bridport St., Montague St., Park, St., Clarendon St., City Rd.,

      Queens Bridge St., Market St., Collins St, Gisborne St.

City Terminus : Gisborne St.,/Victoria Pde ( From 1927  Market St /Collins St ).

Engine House: City Rd / Clarendon St

Car Shed : Victoria St, Sth Melb Beach.

Closed : Electrified 1937

15. PORT MELBOURNE ( Beaconsfield Pde, opp. Station Pier) Opened 6/1890

     Beaconsfield Pde., Bay St., Crockford St., City Rd, Queens Bridge St.. Market St,

      Collins St., Gisborne St..

City Terminus : Gisborne St / Victoria Pde  (from 1927 Market St / Collins St )

Engine House : City Rd / Clarendon St

Car Shed : Beaconsfield Pde

Closed : Taken over by Bus Route 1937 . See Note 2.

16. WINDSOR to St. KILDA BEACH ( Wellington & Chapel Sts). Opened 10/1891

     Cross-town Route :  Wellington St., Fitzroy St., Esplanade, Acland St .

Engine House. : Wellington St.

Car Shed : Acland St, near terminus.

Closed : Electrified 1925.

17 : ST KILDA BEACH (Acland and Barkly Sts). Opened 1897

       Acland St., Esplanade, Fitzroy St., St Kilda Road , (using

        Tracks of existing routes 8 and 16.)

City Terminus : Swanston St. (Through-routed)

Engine Houses : St Kilda Rd, Wellington St

Car Shed : Acland St near terminus.

Closed ; Electrified 1926.   See Note 3.

18 . CLIFTON HILL  to NORTHCOTE ( Queens Pde, High St ) Opened 1890.

Built by Private Company, taken over by Northcote Council.

Engine House & Car Shed : High St., Thornbury.

Taken over by MMTB 1925. See Note 4.

NOTES :

NOTE 1 :

After the MMTB was established in 1920, it inherited two cable tram companies and six electric tram organizations, of which some were isolated from others. To assist in connecting them quickly some changes were quickly made to the cable tram system. The Flemington Bridge line was truncated to Abbotsford St, North Melbourne so that the Essendon electric trams could join the newly opened West Coburg line in a direct service to the city via Flemington Road, Peel and William Streets. A little later the Preston electric tramways were connected to the Coburg Tramways line in Lygon St via Holden St and Brunswick Road, and the cable line in Swanston St from Queensberry St to Lonsdale St was converted to electric traction to enable both the Coburg and Preston services to enter the city. By 1926, the St Kilda Road line was electrified and the former PMTT electric lines that fed it were all able to run direct to the city.  

NOTE 2 :

Four cable lines were closed and converted to bus routes which were very soon extended to serve outer areas of the suburbs, as under :

1935 – The West Melbourne route was converted to buses which were extended to Footscray, Sunshine, Sunshine Park and later to Deer Park

1936 -  The North Carlton route was converted to buses which were extended to Heidelberg and Heidelberg West areas..

1937 -  The Port Melbourne line was converted to buses which also served the new housing area of Garden City and commercial areas of Port Melbourne West.

1937 – The Collingwood route ( originally known at the “Carlton route” as it ran along Lygon Street ) was converted to buses which originally extended to North Kew and later to Doncaster and Donvale areas.

NOTE 3 :

Through Routing  : The following Swanston Street cable tram routes from the southern suburbs were through routed to northern suburbs as under :

    Prahran cable trams were through-routed to Collingwood via Lonsdale St.

    St Kilda Beach cable trams were through-routed to North Carlton via Lonsdale St.:

    In the early 1920’s the North Melbourne route was through-routed via Lonsdale St to Brighton Road, mainly to avoid congestion of trams shunting at the Elizabeth Street terminus.

NOTE 4 :

The Clifton Hill to Northcote cable tram was originally opened by a land sales company, and was later taken over by the Northcote Council. The cable tunnels were smaller than those of the MTOC, but in 1925, the MMTB put smaller pulleys into them and it became possible to through-route the Clifton Hill trams right through to the Northcote terminus, which continued up to the closure in 1940.

 
JGS - Moderator Chief Commissioner

Location: Junee NSW

I'd certainly be interested. Growing up with my grandmother, I heard many stories of riding the cable trams from the late 20s to the last closure in October (?) 1940.

I recall in my early days of tramway interest (mid-80s), travelling around to find and record the various remaining engine houses and tramsheds. The length of track in Bourke St was a bonus. Cable being used as footy-ground boundary near St Kilda Junction and the trams at Bylands.

Good stuff.

Cheers,

Matt

 
GeoffreyHansen Minister for Railways

Location: In a FAM sleeper

There's a man at the Mount Victoria Historical Society (Blue Mountains, NSW) who recalls visiting Melbourne when it had cable trams. He said he was told to help get out and push and thought at the time that people were having him on.

 
GeoffreyHansen Minister for Railways

Location: In a FAM sleeper

Actually are there any preserved cable trams on display in Melbourne's CBD?

 
JGS - Moderator Chief Commissioner

Location: Junee NSW

As a teenager, I remember pressy my face up against the glass box containing the first cable tram set, out behind the Museum of Victoria (before it moved). It subsequenty was displayed at Box Hill for a little while before going back into storage. The grip car is on display at the new Museum near the Exhibition Building, so it is just outside the CBD.

Cheers,

Matt

 
tranzitjim Chief Commissioner

Location: Banned

What is the current status of each of the Engine Houses, And Car Sheds.

Do any of them still exist today?

If so, could they be used by Yarra trams to help increase storage capacity, as they are clearly short of space.

 
penov Chief Commissioner

Location: By the shore of Bass Strait.



What is the current status of each of the Engine Houses, And Car Sheds.

Do any of them still exist today?

- A user

Car Sheds have all disappeared, they were much smaller than electric tram depots. Cars had to be towed in or out by horses or tractors as the cable was not laid into the depot. The cable grip had to be lifted out of the slot in the road and hooked up to the roof of the dummy, before the car could enter the depot.

Several engine houses still exist but are nowadays used for other purposes. The building on the corner of Nicholson and Gertrude Streets opposite the Exhibition Building is well known. The MMTB used to use it for storing W class tram body parts for repairs, but with privatization  I don't know what it is used for now. The North Melbourne and North Carlton ones were used by Telstra, and the one at the corner of Toorak Road and Chapel Street became part of Capitol Bakeries.  The one at the corner of Bridge Road and Hoddle Street was demolished some years ago to widen the road. The one in St Kilda Road became a car showroom.

 
pig3642 Locomotive Driver

Penov

Well done !!!

Thanks for supplying that info , I for one found it quite interesting .

Cheers...

 
574M - Moderator White Guru

Location: Shepparton

MELBOURNE  CABLE TRAM ROUTES

4. CLIFTON HILL ( Queens Pde). Opened 8/1887

Queens Pde, Smith St, Gertrude St., Nicholson St., Spring St, Bourke St

City Terminus : Bourke St, at Spencer St.

Engine House : Nicholson St / Gertrude St

Car Shed : Queens Pde, near terminus

Closed : Bus 1940 – Elec Tram 1956

- penov

I found this photo of the Clifton Hill Car Shed when I was doing a search some months ago on Clifton Hill Loco:

Found it at the PROV

Found this, too

 
penov Chief Commissioner

Location: By the shore of Bass Strait.

Thanks for the photos, 574M...

These photos remind me of how small the cable trams actually were.

Although on the Brunswick line they had bogie trailers which had twice the capacity of the four wheeled saloons. It was said they were used mainly on that line as it had so few curves -  up Elizabeth St., slight diversion at the Haymarket then straight up Royal Parade and Sydney Road.

Note on the Clifton Hill photo - one of the double decker buses in the background.  When the Bourke Street cable line was closed in October 1940, buses took over, DDs on the Northcote route and SDs on the Nicholson St route to North Fitzroy station.  By 1942 they realized that the DDs were a failure - slow loading - entrance /exit only at the back and they were nowhere near as solid as the Sydney DD buses.  By 1950 they had all fallen apart as Northcote had the worst roads in  Melbourne - cobblestoned paving going up Rucker's Hill - I used to race the cable trams up the hill on my bike -  the cobbles didn't do the bike much good, either.

Those trams would have been awaiting sale. Five pounds for a dummy and fifteen pounds for a trailer - the latter would have made a good sleepout - Catch was - you had to arrange your own transport which was not easy with the war on.

 
xke9600hp Train Controller

There was a trailer used as a sleepout in country Victoria for sale on ebay about 2 years ago - it must have sold to an enthusiast.

Also, there is  a trailer housed in one of the sheds at the Lake Goldsmith. I saw it at last year's steam rally  - the next steam rally is on this weekend for anyone interested - highly recommended.

 
574M - Moderator White Guru

Location: Shepparton

Thanks for the photos, 574M...

- penov

I was amazed, I'd never known there was a cable tram depot in the vicinity of Queens Road, Clifton Hill.



Note on the Clifton Hill photo - one of the double decker buses in the background.

- penov

Yea, I did see that, and wondered what it was all about.



When the Bourke Street cable line was closed in October 1940, buses took over, DDs on the Northcote route and SDs on the Nicholson St route to North Fitzroy station.  By 1942 they realized that the DDs were a failure - slow loading - entrance /exit only at the back and they were nowhere near as solid as the Sydney DD buses.  By 1950 they had all fallen apart as Northcote had the worst roads in  Melbourne - cobblestoned paving going up Rucker's Hill - I used to race the cable trams up the hill on my bike -  the cobbles didn't do the bike much good, either.

- penov

Double Decker buses in Melbourne! You learn something new every day!



Those trams would have been awaiting sale. Five pounds for a dummy and fifteen pounds for a trailer - the latter would have made a good sleepout - Catch was - you had to arrange your own transport which was not easy with the war on.

- penov

Now that you provide the proper context for the photo, and roughly date it, it all makes sense. Thanks for the reply. Very Happy

 
tranzitjim Chief Commissioner

Location: Banned

My thanks to Penov for his information. However I would love to know more about these locations....

What can people tell me about

--their location, such as Melway ref, and other information

--What are they being used as today.

--While I am here and if possible, how much 'tram depot' like are they today, like could it be easy enough to re-build them for tram use again.

++St Georges Rd / Holden St.

++ Bridge Rd, near terminus.

++ Victoria St near terminus.

++Nicholson St, south of terminus (Be the North Fitzroy depot?)

++Sydney Rd, south of Moreland Rd. (Current day Moreland depot?)

++Brighton Rd , near Terminus

++Chapel St., near terminus.

++Flemington Rd, near terminus.

++Victoria St., City

++Victoria St, Sth Melb Beach.  (Right near Kindsway, almost directly opposite to where the old South Melbourne tram depot was located.)

++High St., Thornbury.

Also there looks to be two depots along Ackland Street, are they in fact the one location?

While I am here, some of the following engine houses?

++City Rd / Clarendon St

 
penov Chief Commissioner

Location: By the shore of Bass Strait.

Jim asked for a lot of info that I don't have answers to -except for :

Nicholson St would be on the site of the present North Fitzroy depot. Actually it was the main cable tram workshop in Melbourne like Preston for electric trams. It was also used as a bus depot for a long time after the buses took over in Bourke St in 1940.

Sydney Road, south of Moreland Rd - yes that was the Sydney Rd frontage of the present Brunswick electric tram depot accessed now from Cameron St alonside the railway line.

Victoria St, South Melb Beach - actually that should read Victoria Avenue, the present terminus of the Route 1 tram - nowhere near the old Hanna Street electric depot which became South Melb depot after  Hanna Street was renamed Kingsway when  Kings Bridge opened around the 1960's.

As I said in a previous post and from the photos fron 574M above the cable trams were very small vehicles which could fit in a shed about ten feet high, and as they only had to house the vehicles working on one line, it would have probably been impossible to fit an electric tram inside, particularly one of the "bumblebees". So there would be no way that any of these cable sheds could be rebuilt for a tram depot today. Also with the cable tram lines - there was no physical connection between the lines in Flinders, Collins or Bourke Streets although after 1920 there was a connection through Lonsdale St between the Elizabeth St line and the Swanston St line. For  a cable  tram to be moved from one line to the other it would have had to be lifted by a crane on to a low loader and then rerailed in the other street.

 
GeoffreyHansen Minister for Railways

Location: In a FAM sleeper

I went to have a look at the North Melbourne Cable Tram powerhouse today and it was well worth a look with information on display outside of it.

It's also interesting to see some of the cobblestone laneways in North Melbourne. Something that I have never seen in Sydney.

Also didn't some cities combine the dummy and trailer into one vehicle?

 
GeoffreyHansen Minister for Railways

Location: In a FAM sleeper

A couple of Photos from today.

 
penov Chief Commissioner

Location: By the shore of Bass Strait.



Also didn't some cities combine the dummy and trailer into one vehicle?

- A user

San Francisco did. I think some lines still run there. Problem is you need a turntable in  the street at the end of each line or a balloon loop which could be expensive if you had to run the cable around the curve.

Melbourne had a few curves on an uphill grade that needed the cable going round the curve. On the level the cable went at right angles, and the gripman had to throw it going into the curve then pick it up around the corner. That's where passengers had to get out and push if he missed the pick up point.

 
tranzitjim Chief Commissioner

Location: Banned

How many trams did they have on each of the routes?

Is there any information about track layouts inside any of the depots.

 
penov Chief Commissioner

Location: By the shore of Bass Strait.



How many trams did they have on each of the routes?

- A user

Don't know individually but in peak times the headways on a lot of the lines were one minute. Melbourne had 592 grip cars, 534 four-wheel trailers, 63 bogie trailers running on 18 routes totalling 43 route miles.

Leave a few cars for spares but say in peak hour at least 575 two-car trams. Of course there were no private cars those days so everyone had to travel by public transport. The statement was made that at the intersection of Collins / Swanston  Sts outside the Melb.Town Hall, in peak hour between 5 and 6 pm, 400 trams passed through the intersection. I don't know whether to believe it or not. Maybe 200 x 2-car trams = 400 ?

In 1960 the electric lines totalled 142 route miles, that was before the long extensions to Bundoora and East Burwood / Vermont South. MMTB had about 700 electric trams then. Up to the 1950s on say the Glen Iris line, the peak service was every 2.5 minutes, then 5 min 9am-11am and 2pm to 4pm and after the peak every 10 min from first  to last tram about midnight.  On the Brunswick line in peak hour 5 min to North Coburg, 2.5 min to Coburg Bell St, and 1.25min to Moreland Rd ( that's a tram every 75 seconds each way).

Yarra Trams have about a 12 to 16 min headway in night time on many lines and about 6 min in peak hour on the best ones.



Is there any information about track layouts inside any of the depots

- A user

No, but I imagine it would be just long parallel tracks fairly close together.

Remember the only way trams could move in the depot was if people pushed them around. The dummies and cars only weighed about 2 tons each and one person could push one around if the handbrake was off.

 
tranzitjim Chief Commissioner

Location: Banned

So that would be on average 65.777 double units per depot.

How long was a car/dummy combination, and how long is a  modern Bumblebee.

Getting back to an earlier post about making use of their depots today, if they had more than one of the cable cars on one track, then one may also be able to fit a bumblebee along that same track.

Although modern requirements are that less tracks would be built, and there would also be the need for overhead wiring, but there just may be enough land to fit in a few of the modern trams in each one of these little depots.

 
JGS - Moderator Chief Commissioner

Location: Junee NSW

A completely unfeasible idea Jim. These buildings were built in a different age, when rail compliance standards were nothing like today. The buildings have been used for non-tramway uses for at least 70 years, and would be unuseable. Even if they hadn't been gutted, and even if they still retained tramway rail, they'd be unsuitable for large and heavy electric trams.

Consider the dimensional challenges too, a modern articulated tramcar is alot taller and wider than a cable dummy or trailer. The room they take up also means that they need a larger minimum curve. You're not going to tow a Mulhouse tram out of a shed with a tractor and drop it on the passing track. Chilled wheels on a cable tram are one thing, but nobody is going to drag a Mulhouse tram across cement. Not gonna fit points and curves.

It's a nice semtimental idea Phil, but it is utterly impractical and unfeasible.

Cheers,

Matt

 
penov Chief Commissioner

Location: By the shore of Bass Strait.

Matt's comment on the cable tram rails is spot on. The rail head  (meaning the width of the running rail ) on the cable trams was almost half of that used for electric trams. So in conversion, the old ones had to be completely removed and the new rails laid.. I have seen a photo of a street in Sydney in the early years that had electric trams (admittedly little four-wheeler ones) running on a former cable tram line that still had the slot in the road. This could never have happened in  Melbourne.

I'll open a new thread on the need for a new electric tram depot in Melbourne for comments as this thread is not appropriate.

 
tranzitjim Chief Commissioner

Location: Banned

May I ask how long was a complete cable car tram, (including both units, the dummy and the trailer). And yes there would be two lengths as some where bogie cars.

As for what we would need to do to the depots to make them fit for modern trams.

Yes, I do understand that there would be a lot of work needed. For this, it would be ideal to know both the length and the width of each depot, and calculate the area for where the tracks are to be laid.

And yes, we would need to have fewer tracks side by side as we would need to permit more room in between the trams than what was done before, and ofcourse the width of the trams would be different.

If we where to pull down everything, start from just a vacant block of land, how many trams could we fit on the said bit of land?

If we had just one siding which just went the length of the shed, then how long would that siding be?

 
penov Chief Commissioner

Location: By the shore of Bass Strait.

A complete cable tram  unit would probably not be as long as a W2 tram.

But with the price of land over the last 80 years on a main road, I would say quite categorically that there would be no former depot site that hasn't been sold for rebuilding or converted to another purpose.

 

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