A type tram 1 (1908).

Photo: William Adams

Operational - used on special occasions.

100 electric trams were built in 1908-9 to open Adelaide's electric tram system. 70 of these trams were of the single truck Combination style - a central saloon and open ends and were numbered 1 - 30 and 61 - 100. In the 1920s these trams were classified Type A. They were 4 wheelers of the California ‘combination’ pattern popular in California at the time. ‘Combination’ meant a combination of half saloon (enclosed space) and half open space. The open cross-bench seats at either end combined with the centre saloon seated a total of forty persons. A further sixty persons could be carried standing, making a ‘crush load’ of one hundred.

On 9 March 1909, No. 1 led the inaugural procession of cars to Kensington, marking the official opening of Adelaide’s Electric Tramway system. These small trams served well to help establish the services over the first two years, as the inner Adelaide sections of the lines were opened up to Kensington, Marryatville, Maylands, Payneham, Walkerville, North Adelaide, Parkside, Unley and Hyde Park. In later years, the A type cars were used on quiet services eg Croydon and Pt. Adelaide and by the 1930s, as larger trams became available, many of them were retired to storage.

During the Second World War (1939-45), many old A-Type trams were taken out of storage and coupled in pairs, nick named ‘Bib and Bubs’, to help carry very heavy passenger loadings during the 1940s. From 1941 to 1950, No.1 was permanently coupled to car No. 2 to form a ‘Bib and Bub’ set.  It was withdrawn with the remainder of the ‘A’ type cars in 1952.  No. 1 was retained as a shunter at Hackney Depot and was delivered to the St Kilda Museum site on 9 August 1958. 

A type 'Bib and Bub' trams 14/15 (originally 1908, coupled 1941).

Photo: William Adams.

Under restoration.

Many of the A type trams were stored during the 1930s following the introduction of the dropcentre and the Glenelg trams. However, they were returned to service in 1941 as a result of increased traffic caused by wartime petrol rationing.

58 ‘A’ type trams and 4 ‘A1’ type trams were permanently coupled to conserve manpower during a period when many tramways staff had enlisted in the armed services.  These trams were known as ‘Bib and Bubs’ after well known bushland comic characters created by May Gibbs. Operation of ‘Bib and Bub’ sets continued until 30 November 1950.  The Museum is reconstructing the bodies of trams 14 and 15 for eventual use as a ‘Bib and Bub’ set.

B type tram 42 (1909).

Photo: William Adams.

Operational - in regular traffic.

Included in the order for 100 trams to open Adelaide's electric tramway system were 30 open cross bench trams (31 - 60). These trams were referred to as toastracks, because of their resemblance to breakfast table toast racks. In 1917 these trams were classified Type B. The ‘toast-racks’ were popular for summer beach traffic, and the Tramways Band was carried in these open cars to Henley, Semaphore or Kensington Gardens, to perform concerts at the bandstands built by the MTT. Concerts by the renowned MTT band were a popular entertainment and carrying concertgoers to and from the concerts added handsomely to MTT revenue. The MTT band concerts at Semaphore were abandoned when it was realised that many concertgoers travelled there by train

The ‘toastracks’ were however unpopular with both crews and the public during inclement weather resulting in 20 cars being converted to combination trams (cars 44 - 60 designated Type ‘A1’ and cars 41 - 43 designated Type ‘A2’) in 1917. When building the Glenelg line in 1929, one of these unpopular cars was converted to assist with track work. (In tram terms called the permanent way.)  Car 42 was rebuilt in 1917 with straight sided centre saloons with three large windows (Type ‘A2’) and operated at Port Adelaide until the system closed in 1935.  It was retained at Hackney Depot as a store until donated to the Museum in 1958. Car 42 has been reconstructed at the Museum to its original ‘toastrack’ configuration and returned to service in 1994.

E type tram 118 (1910).

Photo: William Adams.

Operational - in regular traffic.

70 larger combination trams were built from 1910-12 for the expansion of the electric tramway system. The first 20 (101 - 120) became the E type in 1917. They had a saloon at one end and cross bench seats at the other and were described as bogie combinations.  These trams sat on two maximum traction bogies (small pony guide wheel and a larger driving wheel). They seated 30 passengers on six open crossbench seats and 24 passengers in the closed saloon. They were often hired to take picnic parties to Magill or Burnside at a charge of 24 shillings for the whole group.

The ‘E’ type trams were all converted to the ‘E1’ type Saloon Bogie in 1936.

The body of 118 arrived at St Kilda in 1982 after residing at Fishermans Bay near Port Broughton for about 25 years.  It has been reconstructed to the original bogie combination style.

Restored Bogie Open Combination tram E 118 was officially launched on 23 May 2010 by Hon. Kevin Foley, Deputy Premier and Member for Port Adelaide (the local electorate) in conjunction with Margaret Anderson, Director, History SA. History SA provided initial funding of $19,000 for the restoration of tram 118. Initial restoration work focussed on dismantling the saloon at the crossbench end and strengthening the frame and restoration of the remaining saloon interior. The bulk of the work occurred over the five years prior to May 2010 mainly due to the generous donations of members who donated over $64,000 to the project.

E1 type tram 111 (originally 1910, rebuilt 1936).

Photo: William Adams.

Operational - in regular traffic.

The E1 type Saloon Bogie trams were all rebuilt from the E type combination cars in 1936. The rebuilding involved the removal of the crossbench seats and extension of the saloon for the length of the car.

The new saloons received the wooden seats from the original saloons and specially imported English moquette upholstory on foam rubber cushions was fitted in the original saloons (the non smoking compartments).
No. 101 was repainted ivory and gold in 1936 and temporarily renumbered No. 100 for the South Australian Centenary Celebrations.  The ‘E’ type trams were used mostly on the Glen Osmond - St Peters route.

D type tram 192 (1912).

Photo: Steve McNicol

Operational - in regular traffic.

Unlike the first 20 bogie combination trams built from 1910, the remaining 50 cars (121 - 170) had sliding doors fitted along the sides of the crossbench end, giving much greater protection to passengers in inclement weather. They were described as bogie closed combinations, later becoming the ‘D’ type. When the D types entered service they were the largest public transport vehicles in the streets and could carry 54 passengers seated with standing room for a further 100. In 1912 four similar cars were built in Adelaide for the Prahran & Malvern Tramways Trust in Melbourne.  They were subsequently sold to the Hawthorn Tramways Trust.  In 1922 they became Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board 127 - 130. They were acquired in 1927 becoming ‘D’ type 191 - 194.

By 1934 a centre aisle was cut through the centre bulkhead and four of the six crossbench seats of cars 121 - 170 following a number of accidents to conductors collecting fares from the footboards.  Cars 191 - 194 had the aisle cut through five of the six crossbench seats prior to their purchase. In their later years, the D type trams became a common sight on the tram lines serving the South Eastern suburbs of Erindale, Burnside, Linden Park, Kingswood (and Findon). The ‘D’ type trams were last used on 5 March 1958.  Car 192 (formerly M&MTB 130) was one of the first cars at the Museum site in 1958.  Refurbishment of the tram was completed in May 1979.

C type tram 186 (1918).

Photo: William Adams.

Operational - in regular service.

During the First World War (1914-18), the MTT urgently needed more tramcars because of passenger traffic generated by line extensions and the Port Adelaide system. Wartime conditions made it hard to obtain equipment, so twenty tram cars similar to the seventy type A trams were built – again by Adelaide car-building firm Duncan & Fraser. They looked very modern because of the simple arched roof, but this was simply a cost saving measure, not a design feature. Like the A types they were modelled on, they seated forty passengers and carried a further sixty-two standees. These trams worked mostly on the Croydon-Keswick service, but were also used on the Port Adelaide system in the early 1930’s.

Larger motors made them faster. They soon became known as ‘Desert Gold’ trams after a New Zealand racehorse which had a number of wins in Australia at the time.  Their speed was subsequently utilised in competition with the unlicenced private buses which began plying on the tram routes in the early 1920s.  They continued to be used in peak traffic until 1952 and last saw service during the royal visit of 1954. In later years, by then popularly called “Bouncing Billies”, Type C’s became notorious for having no air brakes. The MTT drivers once went out on strike over safety concerns.

The body of 186 was retrieved from Woodlands school at Glenelg in 1983 where it had been used as a playroom for the junior school.  The tram has been extensively rebuilt and was officially launched in March 1989.

F1 type tram 264 (1926) & 282 (1928)

Photo: Arnold Krueger

Both operational - in regular traffic.

The Type F and its variant (F1) was a highly successful design offering generous space and comfort. More modern running gear taking up less space meant that the car body was lower to the ground, making the tram easier to board. Six feet (180 cm) longer than the earlier type D and E bogie cars, there were 60 seats with space for a further one hundred and ten standees. Six streams of passengers could board simultaneously. Their large capacity and superior riding qualities made them popular with the public. ‘Drop-centres’ were used over most of the tramway system and were especially suitable for heavy traffic like race meetings, football, the showground and the beach.

Eighty-one cars were built by Pengelley & Co and three were built in the MTT’s own workshops during the 1920s bringing the total up to eighty-four cars, the most numerous type of tram in Adelaide. 50 cars were repainted in the early 1950s in silver and carnation red to give a more modern appearance. The interiors were painted in Asbury green. They were last used upon the closure of the Adelaide street tramway system on 22 November 1958.

Car 282 arrived at St.Kilda in 1959.  Restoration commenced in 1968 and the tram was ready for the opening of the Museum tramline in 1974.  Car 264 was used as a sleepout on a farm at Clare until retrieved in 1981 and reconstructed by 1986 using ex Melbourne ‘W2’ class tram bogies and electrical equipment.

G type tram 303 (1924)

Photo: William Adams.

Operational - in regular traffic.

One man Birney Safety cars 301 - 304 (named after their designer, Charles Birney) were built by J.G. Brill and Co. of Philadelphia, USA during 1924 and entered service in Adelaide in 1925. The G type trams were known mostly to patrons using the small, self-contained system radiating out from the Black Diamond corner at Port Adelaide, to Semaphore, Largs, Rosewater, and Albert Park. These lines did not connect to the rest of the Adelaide system and tram service ran for eighteen years before being replaced by fuel buses and trolley buses, which ran from the City along Port Road. They seated 32 passengers. The four G types were exported to Australia and assembled in the MTT workshops made up the smallest group of MTT trams with the shortest running life of only 10 years service. They were also the shortest cars operated by the MTT, seating just 32 passengers with space for 18 standees.

Following the closure of the Port Adelaide tramway in 1935 they were sold for use at Geelong and become Geelong Nos. 30, 29, 27 and 28 respectively.  They were transferred to the Bendigo system in 1947. No. 27 (ex 303) was badly damaged in an accident in 1956 and sold to a farmer near Maryborough, Victoria.  The other three Birneys remained and are now operated by the Bendigo Tramways.

Th Bendigo Trust obtained the body of 27 in 1975 and reconstructed it as Port Adelaide 303 using original mechanical components. The interior seating which had been sold to a local Bendigo resident was also obtained and reinstalled in the tram during its' restoration. 303 entered service at St Kilda in August 1976.

H type trams 360, 362, 364 and 365 (1929)

Photo: Maikha Ly

360 - Operational in regular traffic
362 - Stored, on public display
364 - Stored, on public dispay
365 - Under restoration

Glenelg cars 351 - 380 were built in 1929 specifically for the Glenelg tram line which commenced on 14 December 1929. They were large bogie end loading saloons and were classified as Type H. They could run in coupled sets and had power operated doors and folding steps and reversible leather seats. They were also used on the Henley North line from 1935 and then through to Kensington Gardens after these lines were through routed in 1952.

All cars were repainted in the silver and carnation red livery between 1952 and 1956. They were progressively refurbished from 1971 and returned to the tuscan red livery. When operations were transferred from City depot to Glengowrie depot in September 1986, pantographs were fitted instead of trolley poles.

Trams 360 and 362 were not refurbished and arrived at St Kilda in 1982.Car 362 was repainted in the silver and carnation red livery and entered limited museum service in 1983.Car 360 was refurbished to circa 1929 style in 1999 for the 70th anniversary of the Glenelg line and the H cars.

When TransAdelaide called for tenders for 16 H type trams in 2005 which were being replaced by the modern Flexity tramcars, the Museum decided that Glenelg tram 364 would make an excellent addition to our existing H type cars at the Museum. Car 364 represents the 1980s style refurbishment of these trams and differs in several ways from our other H cars.

In December 2005 H tram 365 was delivered to the Museum for storage on behalf of its owner who intended to turn it into a 'Bed & Breakfast' in the Adelaide Hills. As car 365 was one of the ten operational 1980s refurbished H cars being disposed of, it had been planned for the Museum to strip the tram for useful parts before the owner took the body away. The Museum's own 1980s refurbished H car - 364 arrived in October 2006. The owner's plans for the tram did not go ahead and the tram was purchased by the Museum and on sold to a Museum member. In the short term the tram will be available for operations at St. Kilda.

H type 'Restaurant Tram' 378 (originally 1929, refurbished 1990)

Photo: William Adams.

Stored, on public display (owned by HistorySA)

The body of Glenelg tram 378 had been sold in 1986. However it was re-acqiured a few years later and turned into a restaurant tram for a private entrepreneur. It was launched by the Premier, Hon John Bannon, on 1 November 1990. The tram ran for 2-3 years with contracted pre-cooked meals under a ten-year lease.  It operated as Adelaide Tramcar Restaurant and featured a range of food options from elaborate three course dinners to simple afternoon teas.  The car generally ran up to 6 times a day.

The tram is a mechanically similar to the 1980s refurbished ‘H’ type cars, but fitted with vigilance control to allow its operation by one tramway staff member, the restaurant staff not having tramway operating capability.  However, it normally operated at series speed to lengthen the journey and minimise the impact of any track imperfections.

Unfortunately, the enterprise was not financially viable at that time and went into bankruptcy.  A couple of years later, TransAdelaide attempted to resuscitate the business by renaming the tram ‘The Grand Lady’ with meals precooked by the Grand Hotel at Glenelg, but without much success.

The tram was allocated to the History Trust of SA and arrived at St Kilda for storage and display in June 2007.  It makes a visually different exhibit to any other tramcar.  The Museum intends to use the tram within its own capabilities.  It will be ideal for charter groups who can order a snack from our existing kiosk and enjoy it on a ‘luxurious’ tram ride.  Even as a static exhibit, far more South Australians will be able to view the tram than previously possible in storage.

H1 type tram 381 (1952)

Photo: William Adams.

Stored, on public display

Car 381 was the first of a projected order of 40 cars planned in 1939. However, the first tram was not built until 1952 when a tramway abandonment policy resulted in the cancellation of the remaining cars.

The body was all steel and it was fitted with power operated doors.  Four destination blinds were fitted to each end of the car, a style which was later used on the replacement buses.  The interior was painted asbury green and cream and fitted with fixed bus seats.  It was designated Type ‘H1’. Car 381 entered regular service on the Henley North - Kensington Gardens line on 19 February 1953.  It was withdrawn from service in December 1957 and stored.

Car 381 has had a much more successful record at the Museum.  It was donated to the Museum and arrived on site on 13 August 1965.  It became the 6th tram to enter service at the Museum entering service in July 1974 - 4 months after the official opening.