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Old Sydney Tram Remnants

Sydney / New South Wales Transport Discussion

Old Sydney Tram Remnants

Postby MAN 3668 » Sat Apr 01, 2006 10:09 pm

Hi all,

Just wondering if anyone knows of any bona-fide tram-related remnants laying about in Sydney, excluding those of course which appear in a Museum. I would most likely expect some tracks to still be in place somewhere, or wearing through a tarred road surface - I think someone once told me that this was happening in Sydney's Glebe district.

Comments on remaining embankments, rock cuttings or permanent ways would also be appreciated, which haven't been converted for regular traffic (like the Havelock Street area in Coogee and the Anzac Parade Busway). Also if there are any old tram power poles or anything like that I'd be interested.

There isn't much left in Newcastle, we still have the very impressive Lambton rock cutting for the Wallsend tram (which has been converted into a bicycle track) and the nearby Jesmond embankment, along with the Merewether Beach tram route quite clearly visible courtesy of some obscure road surfacing in Mitchell and Ridge Streets, but comments on anything else in Newcastle would also be appreciated.

Many thanks in advance.
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Postby Deano » Sat Apr 01, 2006 10:55 pm

Plenty of this is left in Sydney, cuttings, overhead fixtures, tracks, depots, it's pretty interesting, and confusing to most naive people who think Sydney never had trams.
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Postby Ken » Sun Apr 02, 2006 12:19 am

AETA, ARHS or some other organisation has done tours checking out tramway system remnants in the past but I never got around to going on one.

Some remnants include:
- track in O'Dea Ave which has been visible for many years (they got sick of continually covering them with tar). A small traffic island has now been built between the two tracks in one place.
- track in Glebe Pt Rd (toward the end) is frequently visible.
- the tram cutting at Watsons Bay. You can walk up it from the bus terminus and see spikes etc still in the rock.
- the reservation at Randwick from Cowper St (nr William St) to the shops at Randwick Junction. Unfortunately a block of apartments has been built at the Cowper St end of the reservation in the past few years.
- Bondi Rd nr Sandridge St - the tramway used to pass under Bondi Rd, and the bridge including guardrail on one side is still there even though underneath the bridge has been filled in and apartments built on the reservation on the southern side of Bondi Rd (I haven't seen this myself one for years so I am presuming it is still there).
- brackets which used to hold the overhead on shop frontages in Kings Cross
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Postby GeoffreyHansen » Sun Apr 02, 2006 12:57 am

There is a bridge in Burton St Darlinghurst next to St Vincents hospital which used to be a tramway bridge.

Also isn't the section of grass in the middle of Anzac parade in Maroubra a former tramway right of way?

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Postby boronia » Sun Apr 02, 2006 6:30 am

The tracks in O'Dea Ave have never been covered. They have remained exposed since the system closed.

The cutting down to Bronte Beach is intact, now a car park.

The "rosettes" on the sides of buildings can still be found in the CBD and a few older buildings in the suburbs.

Quite a few waiting sheds are still intact.

Much of the right=of-way from Kingsford out to laPerouse is still intact, it has been narrowed in a few places, and around Maroubra Jun and Souths Juniors is now car parking.

If you walk or drive along the the old routes, and "think tram", it is amazing what you can find.
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Postby Ken » Sun Apr 02, 2006 10:28 am

boronia wrote:The tracks in O'Dea Ave have never been covered. They have remained exposed since the system closed.

I'm sure that for some time in the past decade or so they were covered by a thin layer of tar.

The bus roadway adjacent to Anzac Pde past the SFS/SCG/etc was formerly used by trams.

Apparently some sign of the tramway platforms inside Randwick racecourse could be seen - I've never been inside to look, and unsure if still there.
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Postby GeoffreyHansen » Sun Apr 02, 2006 10:39 am

Excuse my ignorance, but which suburb is O'Dea Ave in?

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Postby hornetfig » Sun Apr 02, 2006 10:49 am

umm I suppose it's Zetland - it runs from the SupaCenta in Moore Park (an old tram depot). It's the set of lights right after the start of the Eastern Distributor if you were travelling northbound.
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Postby zambuck » Sun Apr 02, 2006 4:46 pm

North Bondi terminus is basically the old tramway [postwar] terminus which was 3 tracks - if you looked at a photo in tramway days and the current scene today it would not be too hard to visualise it.
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Postby newcastle_man_2 » Sun Apr 02, 2006 5:44 pm

Theres some of that dodgy covering that MAn 3668 was talking about at Makie Ave Kotara aswell. BTW i rode 3668 the other day. It and 3671 are quite good considering there MEN.
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Postby Dave Wilson » Sun Apr 02, 2006 6:19 pm

A truly excellent reminder of the Sydney tram system is on the old Manly lines at the Spit (Manly side). The Manly- Spit line descended to harbour level along quite steep cuttings and they are still partly there today. A section of the line is now a walking track, accessible from Avona Crescent Balgowlah which was the old main road at one time. Another dramatic cutting exists on the Balmoral line near the eastern end of the beach. Mosman Council with the assistance of SPER, recently installed a length of track and overhead in the cutting to commemorate the line. Part of the Wynyard tramway tunnel is also still in existence and is now an underground carpark. Apart from cuttings, a few shallow embankments on the La Perouse line, a few depots, substations, waiting sheds and the length of track in O'Dea Avenue Zetland, most reminders are now obliterated or are so subtle in the landscape as to be virtually unnoticeable.
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Postby newcastle_man_2 » Sun Apr 02, 2006 6:23 pm

Theres also the waiting shed at Balmoral. 8)
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Postby MAN 3668 » Sun Apr 02, 2006 6:50 pm

Thanks heaps everyone - I know what I'll be doing next time I'm in Sydney :D :D :D

It's fascinating to know how much is left. I think a lot of it (especially the remaining tracks) is probably because of the wish to very quickly stop the possibility of trams returning to the streets of Sydney when they were removed, I think a lot of it was just paved or tarred over, within hours of the last service operating sometimes, so they didn't have to spend the time 'properly' removing the tracks.

newcastle_man_2 wrote:Theres some of that dodgy covering that MAn 3668 was talking about at Makie Ave Kotara aswell.


While Mackie Avenue, Kotara, was never a tram line, we do seem to have a lot of bad road surfaces up here :roll: ... especially in Merewether (even where there were no trams), every second road is made of concrete with rough tar strips across the road every couple of metres, which makes for quite a bumpy ride especially when in a bus...
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Postby Dave Wilson » Sun Apr 02, 2006 7:14 pm

Getting rid of the trams quickly was the order of the day. There was no way the Government of the day was going to allow any lobby group to get the upper hand and have them returned. The Govt learnt that lesson in the late 40s when it was forced to reopen the Watsons Bay line and the Ryde line as far as the old Gladesville Bridge.

Then there was the mass destruction of the corridor trams in mid 1959, when half of the R class cars were stripped and burnt at Randwick Workshops followed by the even more scandalous burning of the post war cars. Again, of the 100 cars built 1951-53, 50% were summarily destroyed in 1961. About 15 of the 50 prewar R1s were also burnt. It was wholesale destruction to make sure that they could never return and those old Labor shitheads did a good job of it.
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Postby Duncan » Sun Apr 02, 2006 7:18 pm

Rarely mentioned as a tramway remnant is half of the bridge over Johnstons Creek where the Lilyfield line branched of Minogue Crescent to cross to Taylor Street.
Not far from there is the cutting and embankment in Ross Street coming down towards Harold Park
Then there's the park in Rozelle between Evans Street and the Tattersalls Hotel which was where the old steam tram line joined Victoria Road.
And of course the many cut back street corners where trams turned from one narrow street to another.
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Postby MAN 3668 » Sun Apr 02, 2006 7:20 pm

Dave Wilson wrote:Then there was the mass destruction of the corridor trams in mid 1959, when half of the R class cars were stripped and burnt at Randwick Workshops followed by the even more scandalous burning of the post war cars. Again, of the 100 cars built 1951-53, 50% were summarily destroyed in 1961. About 15 of the 50 prewar R1s were also burnt. It was wholesale destruction to make sure that they could never return and those old Labor shitheads did a good job of it.


Yes, I saw the burning of the trams in the "Shooting Through" video documentary on the Sydney and Newcastle tram networks, almost brought me to tears :cry:

What were they thinking!

Here was a public transport system that (for the most part) ran on electricity, with no pollution, carrying many customers at a time, and generally running via direct routes.

Them Melbournians must think we're idiots, and for good reason too!
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Postby Member 573 » Sun Apr 02, 2006 9:32 pm

On one of the wharf routes, to Cremmorne wharf I think, is a tram stop which the locals or council? have kept freshly painted for years.I always remember looking out for it when I operated a 225 down to the wharf.

Recently some resurfacing of road between George and Elizabeth on Park st. took place and a whole section of the Pitt st. line was visible for 24 hours.
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Postby Andy Lee » Sun Apr 02, 2006 10:19 pm

At the moment, resurfacing is being carried out between Cranbrook school at Rose bay and Double bay and the double tracks are visible very clearly.
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Postby Maca » Sun Apr 02, 2006 11:01 pm

Some track has been relaid and overhead erected in the cutting at Balmoral by Mosman Council and Sydney tramway Museum as part of beautification works in that area.
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Postby tartan » Sun Apr 02, 2006 11:03 pm

street corners cut back

many shopping strips developed along tram routes, only to become classic examples of urban decay after removal of trams

many roads still show evidence of trams such as different kinds of pavement on the same road and lines of caulking that cover cracking showing where the tracks once were
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Postby boronia » Sun Apr 02, 2006 11:19 pm

Ken wrote:
boronia wrote:The tracks in O'Dea Ave have never been covered. They have remained exposed since the system closed.

I'm sure that for some time in the past decade or so they were covered by a thin layer of tar.

The bus roadway adjacent to Anzac Pde past the SFS/SCG/etc was formerly used by trams.

Apparently some sign of the tramway platforms inside Randwick racecourse could be seen - I've never been inside to look, and unsure if still there.


I've been driving along O'Dea for almost 25 years, and the old change I've seen was removal of a short section at the western end, just prior to the road changes during construction of the ED. The concrete road surface between the rails was actually refurbished for this project, but to my amazement the tracks weren't covered. It seems like this section is "protected"in some way, even as you mention to surviving construction of a median strip. I think a small section, about 1 m, about half way along, was removed a couple of years ago when they put some pipes across the road.

Not just the bus roadway, but all of that part of Moore Park. The drivers meal room is still opposite Hordern Pav, still with "Tramway Staff Only" sign on the door. The location of the special Racecourse tracks can still be seen on the west side of Anzac Pde, and the storage sidiings in Abbotford St. And of course, the Coogee/Clovelly line adjacent to Alison Rd.

On general terms, a few substation buildings also still survive.
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Postby hornetfig » Mon Apr 03, 2006 12:06 am

there is also still a track that curves across the section of Moore Park East opposite Fox Studios. Would have run from Cleveland St to Driver Ave I suppose.
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Postby Swift » Mon Apr 03, 2006 12:56 am

You can see the entrance to the former Wynyard tram tunnels as the footpath of the Sydney Harbour Bridge descends toward the Cahill Expressway Viaduct.It is fenced off from the public where the Cahill expressway covers the old tramway just before the tunnel entrances which look like the train tunnel entrances (archway design).
I was wondering if there is a section of untouched tram tracks and tunnel between those entrances and the Wynyard carparks?
Are you free to walk around the carparks and look around?
I must go have a look sometime.
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Postby GeoffreyHansen » Mon Apr 03, 2006 1:46 am

I suppose one overlooked remnant would be the roadway (including the two bridges over Eddy Avenue) through the collonade at Sydney's Central which is now used by the Metro Light Rail, but was originally used by trams running between Central and Circular Quay via Pitt and Castlereagh streets.

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Postby Member 573 » Mon Apr 03, 2006 6:46 am

Swift obsessor wrote:You can see the entrance to the former Wynyard tram tunnels as the footpath of the Sydney Harbour Bridge descends toward the Cahill Expressway Viaduct.It is fenced off from the public where the Cahill expressway covers the old tramway just before the tunnel entrances which look like the train tunnel entrances (archway design).
I was wondering if there is a section of untouched tram tracks and tunnel between those entrances and the Wynyard carparks?
Are you free to walk around the carparks and look around?
I must go have a look sometime.


I went down there ten or so years back and no there is no tracks or fittings in the tunnels. I am told that for years the tunnels were open and one could walk the full length to the Menzies car park, but as often is the case, the tunnels became a good roost for the homeless and other drop-kicks, so fences were erected at the bridge end. At the car park end there are large iron doors that cover the portals. Of course the old concourse and platform area is now home to the filthy car. At the other end the tunnels continue for about two hundred meters and at the time of my visit were being used by a records/data, storage/management company that had erected large storage facilities within each tunnel which both finish at a flat concrete wall.

I think this tunnel may be one that is regularly visited by the ARHS on it's tunnel walking tours-check it out.

I forgort to mention earlier that for many years the section of tramway that turned from Parramatta Rd. into Crystal St. at Leichhardt was visible at the intersection, but is no longer there. I wonder if it has been removed? :?:
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