Today is 50 years since one of the saddest days in the history of Melbourne trams: the closure of the local lines at Footscray.
In the early afternoon, X1 459 was the last tram to run into Footscray Depot after completing the final service to Ballarat Road.
It was preceded by the last run in from Russell Street (tram ?) and earlier by X1 463 that ran the last trip to Williamstown Road.
Glenn of Footscray has completed a lovely montage of Footscray then and now at
Glenn's presentation shows how much the Footscray area has changed over the past 50 years. Gentrification is slowing adding to the area, particularly around Seddon on the Williamstown Road line, but central Footscray remains down at hell and not the nicest part of Melbourne.
Back to 1962, it was decided that the Footscray lines and their single truck trams were no longer viable. The Transport Minister of the day was Sir Arthur Warner who presided over the closure of the VR electric street railways and the Point Ormond shuttle. The Chairman of the MMTB, Robert Risson, was on an overseas study tour when the Footscray lines closed. The project was managed by the MMTB Chief Engineer, D H Eakins. What do we know about Mr Eakins?
The Footscray trams were all driven to Preston Workshops on the Sunday (11 March) and never saw service again. Four have been preserved; 467 and 680 at Bylands, 676 at Hawthorn and 466 operating in Auckland. At least four others are known to exist in 2012: 459, 460, 461 and 463.
It should be noted that the Footscray trams always had trolley wheels. They were needed because the poles had to be turned before the trams entered the depot. However, they were not the last trams in Melbourne to operate with trolley wheels; a few remained at Essendon Depot into March 1962.
The local lines were replaced by one man MMTB buses, mostly Leyland OPS1s. The Russell Street route was later incorporated into bus route 220. The Williamstown Road-Ballarat Road route remains, essentially, as route 223 but has been altered at the Yarraville end and extended to Highpoing Shopping Centre.
I was not present at the closure due to drama classes; I wonder who among the TDU community was present on the last day exactly 50 years ago?
I understand representatives of the SEC tramways at Ballarat and Bendigo visited Preston Workshops to inspect the X1s and X2s as possible additional to the provincial city fleets but nothing eventuated.
It should be noted that Footscray trams were two man operated from 1945 until the end. In November 1959, one man buses replaced the trams on Sundays and in February 1960 Saturday afternoon and evening trams were replaced by buses.
Some of the Footscray tram crews moved to other depots while a number transferred to the buses at Footscray. The depot continued as the Footscray MMTB bus depot and was later redeveloped. It is now the base of Melbourne Bus Link.
Paul in Melbourne