Ballarat's tram system
Ballarat, which claims to be Australia's largest inland city,
was founded in 1837 (as Ballaarat, from the Aboriginal Balla-arat,
meaning ??) but really took off with the gold rushes, from 1851 onwards.
In the mid 1880s the council decided on a tramway system. The cable
system being built in Melbourne looked too expensive, and council was
impressed with Adelaide's horse system, so in 1887, the Ballaarat
Tramway Company Limited started operations with horses.
Horse cab drivers were less
impressed, fearing loss of business, and tried to obstruct the first
trams, but the service succeeded. There were 17 double and 1 single-decker
horse trams, with around 50 horses.
Preserved horse tram
Horse tram number 1 has been restored and is operated by the
Ballarat Vintage Tramway.
The tram system was taken over by the Electric Supply Company of
Victoria, which electrified it in 1905. The company's main
interest was not the trams, but in selling electricity to customers
along the route. The first trams were
rebuilt cable trailers and electric trams bought second-hand from
Sydney, starting what seems like an unbroken record of second or
third-hand trams being operated in Ballarat.
In 1932, the company's operations were taken over by the State
Electricity Commission of Victoria. It operated 3 tram systems
(Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo) which was a lot for a body which was
not interested in running any at all. However, it replaced all
of Ballarat's ageing fleet with surplus trams from Melbourne, Adelaide
and Geelong, all of which were built around the time of the first
World War, and kept them going all the way to final closure in 1971.
The single-truck trams, mostly ex-Melbourne old
A-class, were supplemented with some double-truck trams
(ex-Melbourne C-class, of similar
vintage) in the late 1940s.
More history is available on the Ballarat Vintage Tramway's own
Here is a map of the Ballarat system just before closure (thanks to
Preserved electric trams
Many trams from the Ballarat system have been preserved and restored
to their conditions at different periods of their history. They can
be found at Ballarat Vintage
Tramway. In addition, No. 12 (the second No 12?) and the second
No. 37 can be found at the Sydney Tramway Museum.
Thanks to Chris Brownbill, email@example.com, for the map.