Re: Hobart in the early 50s
  Richard Youl

If all cars in the fleet had more or less the same capacity, then it would not matter much but if any car’s capacity varied by any great degree then it may more suitably match the likely loadings on a particular line.

But with such a small fleet I suppose the person who allocated cars to duties would soon know which tram number was for what size of tram.

This probably is represented in Melbourne by the articulated fleet having different number series based on differing capacities and maybe even differing maintenance requirements.


On 8 Jun 2018, at 11:45 am, Roger Greenwood efftech@...> wrote:

In connection with anonymous donor’s photograph of Hobart No 23, Mal Rowe noted the ‘fairly loose attitude to fleet numbering in Hobart’.

Not so much an attitude issue but more that Hobart’s fleet numbering system was probably unique in Australia. Other tramways generally allocated blocks of numbers to particular types of tramcars but not so in Hobart.

The original fleet of 20 Siemens trams in Hobart were numbered 1-20 but beyond these, fleet numbers were recycled so that replacement trams, or trams built to expand the overall fleet took the numbers of retired trams. If no number was available by this process a newly constructed tram took the next highest fleet number.

Basically this was no different to the practice adopted by sporting teams (AFL, NRL, day/night cricket, etc) where the number of a retiring or discarded player is assigned to a new recruit, or someone ‘purchased’ from a rival team.

As an example, Hobart No 23 was one of four single-truck trams built during 1917/18. Initially there were no numbers available by recycling old ones from scrapped trams so the first two built in 1917 were assigned newly-issued fleet numbers 39 & 40. However the next two built in 1918 inherited numbers from scrapped trams and became Nos 4 & 23. The tram behind No 23 in Mal’s post is indeed No 4.

When numbers are recycled within sports teams there is no requirement for a player awarded a number by recycling to have any similarity (height, physique, skill level, etc) to the player relinquishing the number, and as it applied to Hobart tramcars, a similar approach was adopted for the recycling of fleet numbers.

Fleet number 4 was originally assigned to an 1893 Siemens double-decker which was taken out of service in 1918 and its number transferred to the single-decker identified above.

Fleet number 23 was newly assigned to a 1904 bogie double-decker built at Motherwell, Scotland, and scrapped in 1918 due to the presence of dry rot in the body. Its number was duly transferred to the other single-decker mentioned above.

The most-used Hobart fleet number was No 18, as per:

· 1893 Siemens double-decker.
· Single-decker realised by a 1902 rebuild of the 1893 Siemens double-decker.
· Standard double-decker built in 1908.
· Single-deck bogie tram built in 1935.

To those enamoured by order, logic, or mathematical progression, numbering of trams in Hobart might scarcely qualify as a ‘system’. But each tram was known by the number it possessed for the time being, in the same way that ships are identified by a name which might be passed down to a successor.

As far as I know, aircraft registered in Australia carry an ID number within VH-AAA to VH-ZZZ and I suppose that over time these are recycled. If it works for aircraft, why not tramcars?

Roger Greenwood