Older members may recall the Bluey & Curley comic strips which were
published in many Australian newspapers in days gone by. The two characters
were knock-about Aussie soldiers of no great mental aptitude but with a
laconic outlook on life which endeared them to readers. They were created by
Alex Gurney who emigrated from England and lived in Hobart for some time.
Although his ambition was to become an electrical engineer, he came to
prominence as an artist, cartoonist, caricaturist and impersonator. In 1926
he published a book of caricatures based on prominent Tasmanians of the
To keep on topic, one of his caricatures is attached here depicting Samuel
Hancox who became Engineer & Manager of the Hobart Municipal Tramways in
The caricature shows him as a conductor but the significance of the rope in
his right hand might be lost on those unfamiliar with Hobart trams which
were equipped with bow collectors. To enable these to be swung over when
'changing ends', a rope extended from the collector frame to both ends of
the tram and extended down through the roof into the driver's cabs of
single-deck trams. It was the conductor's job to pull the rope in the rear
cab to swing the collector over at terminus stops.
On the double-deck trams, the rope did likewise from where it was accessible
at the top of the spiral staircases. While convenient for conductors, it
also made the way open for schoolboys to intermittently pull the bow off the
running wire from the rear of the upper deck while the conductor was
downstairs, much to the annoyance of tram drivers.
Just why 'Conductor Hancox' has ID number 13 is something having no obvious
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