'Drop Centre' tram 205 is seen here in Unley Road heading towards Mitcham in the mid 1950s. Some elements of this scene have remained the same since the trams ceased running on Unley Road with the two churches on the left of the road still standing. The present day Coles Supermarket would be where the local shops are on the right of this shot. Photo: Keith Kings.
From steam to horse to electric:
Mitcham was provided with one of the earliest horse tram services in Adelaide with a line from the City down Unley Road being opened by the Adelaide, Unley and Mitcham Tramway Company in 1879. Like
the other early horse tram companies, the trams were imported from John Stephenson and Company in New York. As a trial, a Baldwin steam tram 'motor' was also imported ready for the start of traffic. With the upper decks of the horse trams being open to the
elements, passengers naturally found the smoke and soot produced as a very unpleasant feature of the journey and conventional horse traction was instead used for all regular services. The steam tram was sold by 1885 for use in Sydney where a large steam tram
system had been developed.
Despite the setback with the steam hauled trials, the company prospered and and eventually ran a fleet of 16 horse trams. As with the other horse tram operators, the Adelaide, Unley and Mitcham Tramway Company was acquired
by the Municipal Tramways Trust for the conversion of the service to electric operation. Originally electric trams only ran as far as Cross Road by November 1909 but the rest of the line to the former horse tram terminus in Albert Street, Mitcham by 1911.
In the interim, horse trams continued to run between Cross Road and Mitcham.
A spur line was also constructed from the new electric tramway at this time serving Unley Oval, running along Oxford Terrace to the gates of the Oval. The new spur line was
ready for the start of the 1910 Football season in May that year. The line to Mitcham was one of the main routes in Adelaide and remained in use until July 1958 when it was closed and replaced by buses.