Fairfield Horse Tram

The first ever tram to run in Victoria was in Station Street, Fairfield. Looking at it today this is quite a surprising thought. There are no tram tracks, and there are no wires overhead. But on the 20th of December, 1884 trams travelled (just over two miles) up and down Station Street – pulled by horses!

The double decker horse-drawn tram was installed by landowner C. H. James who was hoping to sell his subdivisions at the north end of Station Street which were otherwise inaccessible. The tram mainly ran on sale days and was a hit with the visitors to the area. It was seen to “give glamour to an unglamorous subdivision”. Because of the horse tram spectacle and the potential of the area, James managed to sell his land at a good price - 17s. 6d. to 25s. a foot.

The horse tram was thought to provide a much smoother ride than other form of transport at the time. Instead of riding in other horse-led vehicles, through mud and potholes, laying tracks could provide a much smoother ride. There were downsides to horse trams though, apart from the smell and mess left on the road by the horses, other vehicles could not easily use the road, as the tracks were slightly raised and made it difficult for other carriages to cross over Station Street.

Cummins, Cyril (ed.) (1971). Heidelberg since 1836 : a pictorial history. Heidelberg: Heidelberg Historical Society.

Lemon, Andrew (1983). The Northcote Side of the River. North Melbourne: Hargreen.