First Trams in Preston, Northcote and Fitzroy
On the 1 April 1920 the first electric tram lines were opened simultaneously in Preston, Northcote and Fitzroy. The Northern Tramways Extension League had been agitating for tram lines in the northern suburbs since 1912. Two lines were built from the North Fitzroy cable tram terminus: one via St Georges Road, Miller Street and Plenty Road ending at Tyler Street, and the other via Miller Street and Gilbert Road ending at Regent Street. The cost of the tramways well exceeded the estimated £60,000, costing a total of £127,500.
A ceremony was held in each municipality to open the lines. The photo pictured shows Mrs Jones, wife of Shire President Llewellyn Jones, in Preston cutting the ribbon to let the tram cars through. There were toasts and celebrations as the cars travelled along the lines to display the ‘attractive looking and well appointed’ trams to those gathered. Within the first month of operations the ‘best’ service day was Good Friday with 11,930 passengers carried.
The tramway had 6 trams operating on the line. In peak periods there were 6 minute services between Merri Creek Bridge and Dundas Street and a 12 minute service beyond. At other times it was a 12 minute service and 24 minute service respectively. The cost of a fare was threepence, with penny sections. Despite this new and exciting service there were still complaints about the service. A member of the public wrote to The Leader to complain about the interval spacing of tram stops and the unfair pricing of these intervals.
The Northern Tramways Extension League was soon planning further extensions east and west. There was strong advocacy for a tramline in East Northcote, as well as east-to-west lines running along Darebin Road and Normanby Avenue. However, nothing was to come of these plans until 60 years later with the extension of the East Preston line into Bundoora.
FITZROY NORTHCOTE AND PRESTON ELECTRIC TRAMS. (1920, April 3). Northcote Leader (Northcote, Vic, : 1882 - ), p. 2.
ELECTRIC TRAMS AND ITS SECTIONS. (1920, April 17). Northcote Leader (Northcote, Vic, : 1882 - ), p. 2.
TRAMWAY FOR EAST NORTHCOTE. (1920, May 22). Northcote Leader (Northcote, Vic, : 1882 - ), p. 2.
Carroll, Brian & Rule, Ian (1985). Preston: an Illustrated History. Preston: City of Preston.