Trams in Perth

The Perth tramway network served Perth, the capital city of Western Australia, from 1899 until 1958.

Perth tramway network
Tram 38 on Horseshoe Bridge, 1950
LocalePerth, Western Australia
Open28 September 1899 (1899-09-28)
Close19 July 1958 (1958-07-19)
  • Perth Electric Tramways Limited
  • (1899–1913)
  • Western Australian Government
  • (1913–1958)
Track gauge3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm)
Propulsion system(s)Electricity
ElectrificationOverhead catenary
Depot(s)East Perth
Route lengthOver 50 km (31 mi) (max)


Horse tram

According to one source,[1] the central city terminus of the short lived horse tramway was the General Post Office, which was then located within the Treasury Building, at the corner of St Georges Terrace and Barrack Street. The outlying terminus was said by the same source to be in East Perth. However, it now seems that, in fact, there was never a horse tram provided for the carriage of passengers in Perth.[2]

Rather, there was – it is believed – a horse tramway which ran from quarries just north of the city to the construction site of Government House situated in St Georges Terrace. For how long the horse tramway survived is not known, nor its exact route, as information has not yet been found, although research continues. It is known, however, that a horse omnibus system did exist.[2]

Electric trams

The initial Perth tramway was operated by English company, Perth Electric Tramways Limited.[3] Construction started on 30 January 1899, with services commencing on 28 September 1899. The first line ran 4.8 kilometres along Hay Street, from East Perth near the WACA Ground to Thomas Street, West Perth. There was a spur line along Colin Street to Kings Park.[4][5]

Further lines opened were:[5]

These routes, together with other city track resulted in a 37 kilometre network by June 1913. At that time there were 53 trams in the fleet: 44 four-wheel single truck cars, and nine larger bogie cars.[5]

The Beaufort Street lines ran from a terminus at Barrack Square, which connected with the ferry service from Barrack Street Jetty.[5]

Under the franchise agreement entered into by the Perth Electric Tramways, the Perth City Council was able to take ownership of the tramways upon its expiry. However the State Government decided that it wanted to take ownership of the network and passing the Tramways Purchase Act 1912 cancelling the reversionary rights held by the council.[6] The Nedlands line transferred on 29 May 1913, followed by the other lines on 1 July 1913.[7][8] The Osborne Park line that was operated by Town Properties was taken over by the government in December 1914.[9]

The tramway network was operated by the Western Australian Government Railways (WAGR) until April 1949 when a separate Western Australian Government Tramways & Ferries department was established[5][10] which in turn in 1958 became the Metropolitan Transport Trust.[11]

As the city expanded so did the tram network with the following openings between 1913 and 1930:

The Wellington St West line had been abandoned by early 1920s while the Colin Street to Kings Park Road was abandoned in 1930.[5]

In the 1930s, the following extensions opened:[5]

  • Inglewood to Salisbury Street
  • Victoria Park to Patricia Street
  • Wembley to Alexander Street

The Westana Road to Claremont station section closed in 1935 and the Crawley to Nedlands line in 1938, while the Wellington Street East, Claremont and Wembley services were replaced by trolleybuses.[5]

In the early 1940s, the final extensions opened:

  • Inglewood line extended by 400 metres to reach Grand Promenade
  • Victoria Park line extended by 1.6 kilometres to serve the munitions factory at Welshpool

Over a ten-year period beginning in 1948, all of the lines were gradually replaced by buses.[4][5] The last tram ran on 19 July 1958.[12][13]

Rolling stock

Over the years, a total of 130 trams were operated. Early examples were manufactured by J. G. Brill Company, Jackson and Sharp Company and St. Louis Car Company in the United States, with later examples by the WAGR's Midland Railway Workshops.[5][14]

Originally painted bright red, in 1903 a darker share of red was introduced. This was later replaced by WAGR red with gold lining. In 1927, a light grey livery was adopted and then in the 1930s the same cream and green livery as worn by the trolleybuses.[4]

Some of the trams from the former Perth network are now preserved by the Perth Electric Tramway Society, at its heritage tramway in Whiteman Park, in the outer Perth suburb of Caversham.[15]

See also


  1. Brimson 1983, p. 159
  2. Culpeffer-Cooke 2010, p. 24
  3. Perth Trams and Their Profits The Evening Star 28 May 1906 page 3
  4. Richardson, John (1967). Destination: Subiaco. Canberra: Traction Publications. p. 4.
  5. Perth Tramways Perth Electric Tramway Society
  6. Tramways Purchase Act Parliament of Western Australia 27 September 1912
  7. Perth Trams The Evening Star 24 July 1912 page 3
  8. Nedlands-Perth Trams Western Argus 3 June 1913 page 41
  9. Osborne Park Tramways Purchase Act 1914 Parliament of Western Australia 8 September 1914
  10. "AU WA A586 - Western Australian Government Tramways and Ferries". State Records Office of Western Australia. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  11. "AU WA A1001 - Metropolitan (Perth) Passenger Transport Trust". State Records Office of Western Australia. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  12. Perth's Beaufort St Services Trolley Wire (Sydney Tramway Museum) issue 135 August 1971 page 19
  13. Restoration of WAGT 66 Perth Electric Tramway Society
  14. Watson, Lindsay (1995). The Railway History of Midland Junction: Commemorating The Centenary Of Midland Junction, 1895-1995. L&S Drafting. ISBN 0 646 24461 2.
  15. Tram & Trolleybus Fleet Perth Electric Tramway Society

Cited works

  • Brimson, Samuel (1983). The Tramways of Australia. Sydney: Dreamweaver Books. pp. 158–167. ISBN 0-949825-01-8.
  • Campbell, Bob (1999). "Perth Electric Tramway System Track Map drawn by A Gunzburg 8/81". Getting There by Tram in Western Australia. Mount Lawley: Perth Electric Tramway Society. ISBN 0646-38447-3.
  • Culpeffer-Cooke, Tony; Gunzburg, Adrian; Pleydell, Ian (2010). Tracks by the Swan: The Electric Tram and Trolleybus Era of Perth, Western Australia. Mount Lawley: Perth Electric Tramway Society. ISBN 978-0-9807577-0-5.
  • "Perth Electric Tramway Society – Perth Trams". Retrieved 9 June 2010.

Further reading

  • Campbell, Bob (1999). Getting there by Tram in Western Australia. Mount Lawley: Perth Electric Tramway Society Inc. ISBN 0646-38447-3.
  • Jones, Colin (1993). Watch for Trams. Kenthurst, N.S.W: Kangaroo Press. ISBN 0-86417-544-2.

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