Melbourne’s flagship tram for over 60 years
First built in 1923, W Class Trams were electric trams with over 750 made primarily in the Preston Workshops. A small number of W Class trams still operate on tourist routes such as the City Circle and as a Tramcar Restaurant and are classified by the National Trust of Australia. Replaced by modern, smoother, more efficient versions, the W Class tram remains as a cultural icon to Melbourne.
Cool retro design
I love the look of the trams; the quirky numbering style and the way the destination would roll over on the top panel. None of the all over advertising we see today on some trams; rather an all green with pale yellow window frames. And the interior is like something out of my grandmothers sitting room; rich red upholstery with timber edging with windows that rolled down - so cool.
Tourist and locals
As a tourist trams were a geat way to get around Melbourne and if you lived in Melbourne, they could get you across town or to work way faster than by foot. But you did have to hang on tight! When these “rattlers” as they are affectionately or aptly called, had a habit of jolting to a stop or start. My mother would always tell me to “hang on tight” but sometimes I didn’t and ended up on the floor! Because I couldn’t sit still; there were these awesome long bench seats to slide across with my brother - too much fun! It actually seems weird to get on a tram nowadays and it’s so smooth - it’s just not the same as the bone-jarring W Class trams. Yeh, okay they’re slow, there’s no air conditioning, there’s no low floor access, and they’re noisy but they are - Melbourne.
Melbourne has the most extensive tram network in the world but it seems we could capitalise more. Some cities in the US have aquired our W Class trams to enhance their cities character and personality but we have the history already; maybe we could do more to showcase our cultural history. Sydney is known for the Opera House and Harbour Bridge but trams are our most recognised and familiar icon. So why not invest to create a really cool historical fleet of older trams that visitors would love? There is the Melbourne Tram Museum in Hawthorn which is amazing; so worth a visit.
But I digress; I love the design, the history and the fact that apart from San Francisco’s trolley cars, we have a truly unique mode of transport.
And it’s why I love Melbourne!