Randwick & DIstrict Historical Society: FLASHBACK


RANDWICK: During the 19th century Sydney’s tramways had been in the form of either horse-drawn or steam-powered conveyances, services provided by the tramway section of the NSW Government Railways. Increasingly, however, electric tramways were beginning to assert their influence worldwide, and following the introduction of such a service in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs in 1889, Sydney authorities decided to similarly experiment with an electrified route.

On 10 November, 1890 two brand new, elegantly finished saloon cars Numbers 1 and 2 initiated the cross country service between Peter’s Corner, Randwick and Cables Place, Charing Cross and would continue to do so until April, 1892. The route was chosen because of its proximity to the tramway workshops where the power was generated and any breakdowns would not interfere with the normal city to suburbs steam operations.

From their inception until June 1891 the electric trams carried significantly more passengers than had their steam counterparts during the same period the previous year, yielding suitably greater revenue. However, operational costs were also much higher. It was a period of severe economic depression and unemployment and the cost differential would prove decisive. On 20 April, 1892 the service was terminated and steam trains returned to the route.

Car No 1’s glory days were far from over, however, and in September, 1893 it began what would become a regular service between North Sydney Oval and Spit Junction, Mosman.

Robert Booth

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