In 1919, the 'Tramway and Railway World' (an industry magazine of the time) had a feature about the Adelaide tramway system and it included this diagram showing the layout of the extensive facilities at Hackney depot. In the years to come, additional tracks would be laid on the southern side of the site (known as the Southern Annex) while the northern end of the site would cater for the expanding trolley bus system. Photo: AETM archives.
The heart of the system:
To house the new electric tram fleet, a section of the former Government Experimental Orchard on the edge of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens covering ten acres was used for the new depot. The tender to construct
the new large running shed, workshops and administration office was awarded to Smith, Timms & Company with the steelwork for all of the structures subcontracted to Forwood Downs & Company. The new depot was designed and constructed with a total of
24 tracks to accomodate the new electric tram fleet. To reduce the potential risk of fire spreading through the depot, the 24 tracks were divided in to four bays of 6 with reinforced concrete walls between them with the bays known as 'A bay' to 'D bay'. This
large shed provided facilities for basic servicing of the tram fleet. Built on the side of 'A bay' were facilities for the tramway traffic staff which included not only change and wash rooms but also the 'Tramwayman's Club' room which contained amongst other
things a library and three billiard tables. Behind the club room was the machine shop and running shed store room.
At the southern end of the site is what is now known as the Goodman Building which was built to serve as the administrative headquarters
for the Municipal Tramways Trust. This building was where all the clerical work to operate the Adelaide tram and trolley bus system was carried out. As well as containing the offices for the General Manager and the MTT Board meeting room, the building also
accomodate the superintendents responsible for the operation and maintenance of the tramway system and the trams themselves.
Despite the opening of City Depot in Angas Street during the early 1920s, Hackney depot would remain the main operating centre
for the Municipal Tramways Trust. During this time, the depot area would expand further when the land immediately to the south of the Admin building was acquired for additional tram and bus storage space. The 'Southern Annex' as it was called was where a number
of trams were stored before they were scrapped in later years. In the 1930s, the area at the northern end of the depot was set aside for the growing fleet of trolley buses and diesel buses that had been acquired by the Trust.
By the 1950s, the conversion
of the Adelaide tramway system to bus operation would radically alter Hackney Depot. At first, trams were stripped of their mechanical and electrical equipment in 'D bay' but as fewer and fewer trams ran on the streets of Adelaide, parts of the depot were
demolished. All of 'B' and 'C bays' and half of 'D bay' were demolished to provide a large bus parking area while the remaining half of 'D bay' would be used as a paint shop. 'A bay' would continue to function as a tram running shed until July 1958. In 1963,
the trolley bus system was also closed down and the depot would continue to serve the all conquering diesel bus. In the 1970s, some H type trams which were being refurbished for continued service on the Glenelg line were refurbished at Hackney.
remained the administrative centre of the Municipal Tramways Trust until 1975 when the services provided by the Trust, private bus operations and the suburban railway services provided by the South Australian Railways were all merged in to the State Transport
Authority (STA). After the formation of the STA, the management of the public transport system was moved to offices in Adelaide Railway Station (and later on in to a new building on North Terrace). By the 1980s, it was clear that time was running out for the
former tram depot as a public transport facility. By 1986, the old workshop facilities (more information in the next section below) were demolished to make way for the Botanic Gardens Conservatory for Tropical Plants.
Hackney depot continued as a bus
depot until it was finally closed in 1992. The remaining portion of 'D bay' was demolished and while 'A bay' was initially destined for the same fate but protests by National Trust and the Institute of Engineers saw that it was retained. Both the former Admin
building and 'A bay'. Today, these surviving structures are used as part of the State Herbarium. The rest of the former Hackney Depot site has reverted to being a part of the Botanic Gardens with the old running shed area now a rose garden.