Sydney Steam Motor Tram

The Steam tram motors were built for and operated by the New South Wales Government Tramways of Australia.

NSWGT Steam Motor Trams
Baldwin Tram Motor No. 7 at Balmain, New South Wales
ManufacturerBaldwin Locomotive Works
Randwick Tramway Workshops
Henry Vale
T. Wearne
DesignerBaldwin Locomotive Works
Train length17 feet 2 inches (5,232.400 mm)
Width8 feet 6 inches (2,590.800 mm)
Maximum speed20–km/h
Weight14.3 t
Track gauge4 feet 8 12 inches (1,435.100 mm)


Steam trams were introduced when four steam tram motors imported to Sydney as a temporary transport for the International Exhibition of 1879. It was built at the Baldwin Locomotive Works, Philadelphia, U.S.A. and hauled double decker trailers conveying passengers from the Redfern railway terminus to near the Botanic Gardens [1]

Beyer Peacock Steam Tram No 2464 of 1885 was exported to Australia in 1886 as a trial unit by the NSWGT for comparison against the Baldwin steam tram. The Baldwin design prevailed and this engine returned to the UK in 1889 to become Beyer Peacock works shunter No.2. The engine is rumoured to have fallen into the sea on its way from New South Wales to Manchester, before delivery to Beyer Peacock.[2]


The steam tram motor is basically a small enclosed saddle tank locomotive steam motor with four driving wheels in an 0-4-0 arrangement. A wooden cab encloses the entire locomotive, which features five windows along each side. Access to the cab is through doors from either the front or back platform. The tram is powered by an orthodox locomotive type boiler, American bar type framing, conventional "D" type slide valves and spring suspension. Coke and later coal was carried in a bunker on the rear platform and water in the semi-circular saddle tank.

Typical specifications for an 11" Baldwin steam tram motor:

  • Cylinders: 11" diameter x 16" stroke
  • Tractive Effort: 120 psi steam, 5,500 lb at 10 mph
  • Weight: 14 tons 2 cwt
  • Length: 17 feet 2 inches
  • Width: 8 feet 6 inches


The Redfern to Botanic Gardens tramway was planned to operate for the duration of the exhibition. Proving so popular an extension to Randwick was opened in 1880. The peak of steam working was reached during 1894, when the length of the tramway reached 40 miles (64.7 km) when there were over 100 steam trams in service. In 1905-6 steam tram routes were replaced by electric trams with steam trams gradually relegated to outer suburbs.

Steam Tram Motors in service were:

Steam Tram Motors
BuilderDateCyl Diam.Original Nos.Total
Baldwin187911 inch1,2,3,44
Baldwin188011 inch5-106
Baldwin188110 inch11,13,15-18,267
Baldwin188111 inch12, 14, 19-259
Baldwin18819 inch27-304
Baldwin18829 inch31-333
Baldwin188210 inch44,452
Baldwin188211 inch34-418
Baldwin188310 inch(2nd) 46,47-49,51-54,56,5710
Baldwin188411 inch58-6912
Baldwin188511 inch77-9620
Baldwin189111 inch(3rd) 76,(2nd) 97,98-11015
Henry Vale189011 inch(2nd) 50,(2nd) 70 (2nd) 757
Henry Vale189111 inch(2nd) 5,(Rly) 12(2nd) 13,(2nd) 27,(2nd) 28,(2nd) 766
T. Wearne188410 inch761
T. Wearne188610 inch971
Randwick Workshops191611 inch126A-128A3
Randwick Workshops191711 inch129A,130A2
Randwick Workshops192311 inch131A,132A2
Randwick Workshops1957body only built for processions1

Demise and Preservation

The last NSWGT steam motor was withdrawn from service in 1937 and replaced by a trolley bus service. Preserved trams are:

See also

  • McCarth & Chinn, "New South Wales Tramcar Handbook 1861-1961", 1974 SPER
  • Burke, David, "Juggernaut: A story of Sydney in the wild Days of the Steam Trams", Kangaroo Press, Roseville, N.S.W.,1997.
  • McCarthy, Ken, 'The Era of the Steam Tramway' in "Trolley Wire ", April 1973, Vol. 14 No.2.


  1. MacCowan, Ian. The Tramways of New South Wales.
  2. "The "Odd-Ball" Steam Tram Motor" (PDF).
  3. "Steam Tram Motor No. 1A, 1898". Powerhouse Museum.
  4. Steaming Down Argent Street - A History of the Broken Hill Steam Tramways 1902-1926.
  5. "Tram 103a". Valley Heights Steam Tramway.

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