Horse tram 15 (1878)

Photo: William Adams.

Horse tram 15 makes an interesting exhibit at the Museum. It has not been restored and therefore when displayed next to horse tram 18 makes an interesting ‘before and after restoration’ comparison.

The tram was built for the Adelaide, Unley and Mitcham Tramway Co. which opened its service on 12 February 1879.
Most Adelaide horse trams had a back-to-back (‘knifeboard’) upstairs seats, but this car was one of a small number that had transverse ‘tip-over’ seats. It was built locally by Duncan and Fraser.

After the horse trams were replaced, most were sold. Car 15 served for many years as a ‘summer house’ in a garden at Fowlers Road, Glenunga. A corrugated iron roof protected the main body section from the weather for 60 years. Some original signage can still be seen on the tram.

The body of horse car 15 was donated to the Museum in the 1990s.

Horse tram 18 (1878)

Photo: William Adams.

Adelaide had an extensive horse tram system which commenced in June 1878 with a line from the City to Kensington. Several private companies operated these services over a system of more than 50 miles (80km).

The Adelaide & Suburban Tramway Co. had a fleet of 90 cars requiring 650 horses. As well as the city based system there were isolated lines from Glenelg to Brighton and Albert Park to Port Adelaide. When the MTT (Municipal Tramways Trust) was set up in 1907 it took over the horse tram services with a fleet of 163 cars. Horse trams disappeared from suburban streets by 1914.

Adelaide and Suburban Tramway Co. horse car 18 was among the first cars ordered from John Stephenson and Company, New York, to open Adelaide's horse tram services in 1878. It appears to have originally been a single deck car as it has only a small number of ventilator lights in the centre of the saloon roof. This is corroborated by photographs. It was later converted to a double decker by the Company in its own workshops at Kensington.
After closure, horse tram 18 was used for 50 years as a playroom and fern house at Walkerville Terrace, Walkerville. The tram was acquired by the National Trust in the 1960s and was restored by staff of the South Australian Housing Trust before being stored at the old Maylands horse tram depot. It was transferred to St. Kilda in 1971and later placed on display.

In 1978 horse tram 18 was repainted in its traditional colours by students and staff of the Marleston TAFE College for the Centenary of Street Transport celebration in June 1978.
In 1988 the National Trust displayed and stored the tram elsewhere before returning it to the Museum for display in 2001.