G'day all, it's five to two by the Ballaarat Town Hall clock and my sometimes unreliable memory tells me that it is a cold and miserable Friday arvo during the winter of 1971. The final and much postponed closure of the Ballaarat tramways is only months away. More about that later.
Putting memory aside the scene certainly has the busy air of an old-time Victorian Friday afternoon when everything closed at five..... or five thirty at the latest and the shops closed at midday on Saturday. The weeks business had to be tidied up and the shopping done. Hence the bustle.
My camera was a Pentax Spotmatic and the lens a Takumar 200mm and I was standing part way along Bridge Street looking west along Sturt Street, the city's main drag. I don't know the make of that approaching sedan but the cars in view are typical of the time. They are the cars that killed the tram. The line was single track in Bridge Street but at that waiting shed at the bottom of the Sturt Street hill it divided to run either side of a broad central plantation.
The two single truck trams in Sturt Street are stabled in the City Loop awaiting the PM peak and further up the hill a bogie car has turned out of Lydiard Street North and passengers are boarding for the trip out to Sebastopol.
The Ballaarat system and it's sister tramway in Bendigo outlasted the huge Sydney operation by a decade and the very efficient Brisbane system by a couple of years thanks to the pecularities and the odd alliances of Victorian parliamentary politics.
Several attempts had been made to close these working museums in the post war years but our State was governed for 20 or so years by a coalition of the conservative Liberal Party with the perhaps even more conservative Country Party and up until the '70s they could reach no ageement re closure and so the little tramcars continued to ply their provincial streets carrying fewer and fewer people and losing more and more money every year. At night during winter when the cold and the TV kept people indoors they were empty more often than not.
Trams still run in both Ballaarat and Bendigo thanks to the energetic efforts of the preservation movement and Bendigo has a very active workshop that undertakes work for all comers. A Google search for the Bendigo Tramways and the Ballarat Tramway Museum is worthwhile. All my previous Monday Morning Photo postings can be found at http://teenagerailfan.blogspot.com
I'll post a photo next week taken looking down the Sturt Street hill and along Bridge Street to the east.
P.S. A couple of books that might be of interest.
The Golden City and its Tramways.
Published by the Ballarat Tramway Museum Inc. 2005.
Last Tram at 11.
William. F. Scott.
Published by Full Parallel Productions. 2008.