Articles

Ashgrove Historical Society Inc. logo and name png

  • ArtS1 Grove Estate Plan 1888

    Advertisement for auction sale of lots in Grove Estate, on Saturday 4th February 1888.
    AHS archive no - AHS146

  • ArtS2 Grove Estate map c. 1900

    Grove Estate plan, c.1900. 

  • ArtS3 Ashgrove scouts 1909

    Ashgrove scouts, 1909
    AHS archive no: - 915

  • ArtS3 Seils Dairy Delivery Van 1930s

    Seils Dairy Milk Delivery Van, 1930s, a 1926 Willy’s Whippet,  owned by Seils' Dairy, Toomba Avenue, Ashgrove.  Milk was carried in the Dicky seat. 
    Source:  Neil & Jeanette Seils.

  • ArtS4 Waterworks Road, 1924

    Section of Waterworks Road showing the rough condition of the roadway.  1924.
    John Oxley Library digital image #201390

  • ArtS5 Old St Finbarrs Church Hall 1926

    Old St Finbarrs Church Hall,  Scan, 1926
    AHS Archive No: AHS523

  • ArtS6 Padmore Butcher Ashgrove Crescent c.1946

    WA Padmore, Quality Butcher, Ashgrove Crescent, c. 1946. 
    Source:  Desley Drevins.
    AHS Archive No: 559

  • ArtS7 Tram at Ashgrove West terminus, 1951

    Toast-rack tram No. 65 at the Ashgrove West tram terminus, in front of the Ashgrove West Uniting Church. 1969.

  • ArtS8 Grantuly Ashgrove

    Grantuly, the home of John Killough Stewart, son of Alexander Stewart of Glenlyon House.

The Last Tram from Ashgrove

THE LAST TRAM FROM ASHGROVE,

and Other Historical Information

The System

Brisbane had an electric tramway system, initially operated by a private Tramway Trust until 1925 and then by the Brisbane City Council, with a network of services radiating outwards from the city centre to various suburbs.  Ashgrove was one of these suburbs.

The steel grooved tram rails were embedded flush with the road surface in the centre of the road in the standard gauge width of 4’ 8½ “.  The electrical DC supply ran in an overhead wire above the tracks with the electricity collected via a pole on the top of the tram car.  This supplied the power to a controller (operated by the motorman) then to the electric motors under the tram.

The Growth

Over the years, as the town expanded and grew out into the suburbs, the tram tracks were gradually extended – along Musgrave Road to Red Hill in 1920, then Enoggera Terrace and along Waterworks Road reaching Oleander Drive on 2 August 1924 and finally extending to Ashgrove (West) on 25 May 1935.  The terminus was located on a side section of Waterworks Road opposite Coopers Camp Road outside the Methodist Church (now the Uniting Church).  As would be expected, there were great celebrations at both of these events in Ashgrove.

Route Identification

Along the route, both in and out bound, where there was a tram stop, it was identified by a sign on a pole in the footpath which had a white painted background with black lettering stating “Hail Trams Here”, along with the stop number.  Where there was a zone or section along the route, this was identified by a red painted sign with white lettering and the words “Tram Stops Here”, along with the stop number.  At this sign, all trams had to stop.

Trams and cars ran side by side on the roads and at every tram stop, vehicles were required to stop behind the tram to allow travellers to board or alight from the tram.

The Tram Types

The type of tram design in use ranged from the early dreadnought style, the drop centre style introduced in 1925, and the 400 or streamlined type introduced in 1938.  Eight new cars, given the title ‘Phoenix’ and similar to the 400 type, were constructed in 1964 after the Paddington Tram Depot fire.  These were all a central aisle design and early models were preserved as historical examples.  They were all operated by a motorman at the front of the car with a ticket collector (conductor) who worked along the corridor.   Apart from the uniform, all wore the distinctive French foreign legion caps.

Popularity

The use of trams was popular for those wishing to travel into the city, which was where most of the residents wished to travel.  But for those wishing to go to an adjacent suburb  or two, it was a journey into the city and then catching another tram on another route out.

As time progressed, the motor car became readily available which in turn effected tram patronage as it was often more convenient to use the car.

During the later period, there was much debate about the friction between trams and cars where it was said that trams hindered traffic flow.

New Local Government

In 1961, a new and progressive Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Clem Jones, was elected and is a short time he made no secret of his desire for public transport to be by buses instead of trams.  He had quite a following, although the silent majority still favoured Brisbane’s ‘silver bullets’ tramway system.

Transport Congestion

As Brisbane was starting to encounter transport congestion problems, the Council commissioned the engineering transport firm of Wilbur Smith to investigate and make recommendations as to the long term transport needs of the city.  It is probably no surprise that this firm, being American, recommended motor cars and buses, new expressways and major roads.  Their recommendations were accepted and work was planned and started.

The Fire

On 28 October 1962, there was a major fire in the Paddington Tram Depot which destroyed the old timber building and the trams stored within.  This was a devastating blow to the transport system with one fifth of the fleet destroyed.  This was the start of the demise of the tramway system but it still remained functioning for many years.  The authorities, with their choice of buses for transport, were not prepared to spend money on new tram cars.  But out of the ashes, the Tramway Department was able to construct new cars from salvaged and other stored parts.

 

Hale Street Upgrade

 

In the Wilbur Smith transport recommendations, there was an upgrade and extension to Hale Street to create an important inner city by-pass and work started on this.  Part of the upgrade was un underpass under Musgrave Road and to achieve this, Musgrave Road was to be closed in part to allow for the excavation.  As the Ashgrove tram line ran along Musgrave Road, the line had to be closed and there were no plans to reinstate the tram track.  This resulted in the closure of the Ashgrove/The Grange tram service.

 

The Last Tram

 

Sunday 4 August 1968 was arranged to be the final day for the Ashgrove Tram Service and special tramway trips were organised, using a variety of preserved and standard trams to celebrate the closure.  Due to a lack of departmental organisation, the replacement bus service was not able to be arranged to start on Monday morning.  Thus on Monday 5 August, the Ashgrove tram service still ran as normal with the very last service using Tram Car No FM 469.  This departed Ashgrove Tram Terminus at 12.25am (which was Tuesday morning) and returned to the Light Street Depot.  On this service was a handful of dedicated tram passengers enjoying the last trip on a bitterly cold Brisbane night.

 

 

Morris Moorhouse