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THE STEAM ERA. 1887-1923

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PHOTO ABOVE.

STEAM MOTOR No.19 and TRAIL CAR AWAITS DEPARTURE TO MEREWETHER BEACH.

______________________________________________________________________ The first Newcastle tram service was established in 1887 to meet the demands of the rapidly developing suburbs of Wallsend and Plattsburg.

Prior to this, as a courtesy gesture, the Newcastle and Wallsend Coal Company attached a passenger carriage to some of its coal trains bound for Wallsend, but this means of transport was only available when the mines were working.

Following the success of steam trams in Sydney, In 1883 it was agreed to survey a route from Newcastle to Wallsend . At this time, the only public transport between Newcastle and Wallsend was provided by horse buses. (Stage coach)

In March 1885, a tender was accepted for the construction of a tramway 7 miles and 30 chains long, at a cost of 30,885 Pounds. In July 1887 the work was sufficiently advanced for a trial run. The first tram left Perkins Street, which was to be the original Newcastle terminus, at 2 p.m. and arrived at Plattsburg at 3 p.m. On the return journey it was de-railed, because of faulty points and did not arrive back in Newcastle until 10 p.m. A regular service to Plattsburg began on December 5th, 1887. This service was worked by 2 trams, which passed each other at the Broadmeadow loop, supplemented by a single tram that ran a shuttle service between Newcastle and Hamilton.

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Other Newcastle tram routes were opened over the next 20 - 30 years, and these were as follows:-

Glebe (originally known as Merewether and classed as the Merewether line) opened April, 1894.

Mayfield to Tighes Hill, opened April, 1894.

Newcastle to Mayfield, opened January, 14th 1901.

Newcastle to Adamstown, opened August, 13th 1900.

Newcastle toRacecourse, opened April, 27th 1907.

Wallsend/Plattsburg to West Wallsend, opened December, 19th 1910.

Wallsend/Plattsburg to Speers Point, opened January, 15th 1912.

Newcastle to Carrington, opened September, 23rd 1912.

Newcastle to Waratah, opened January, 20th 1915.

Newcastle to Port Waratah, opened December, 18th 1916.

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Originally, the Newcastle Tram System was under the direct control of the railways department, but was brought under control of the tramways in 1893.

The maximum rolling stock at Newcastle during the steam tram era was 56 motors and 120 trail cars.

The Steam motors were built by BALDWIN of Philadelphia, U.S.A.

Some serious accidents occured with trams in Newcastle involving loss of life on more than one occassion. Steam tram motors were frequently de-railed until a defect was discovered. It was learnt that one end was lighter than the other, depending on coal load and when travelling at speed the wheels did not contact the rails properly and frequent de-railments occured. This was remidied by placing a weight on the light end of the motor.

On October, 9th 1920, a rear end collision in which one person was killed and many others injured, occured at Broadmeadow bridge. The tram failed to negotiate the grade of the hill leading onto the bridge and ran backwards into a close following tram.

A motor driver was killed when the motor overturned in Thomas Street, Edgeworth on January, 2nd 1928.

Steam tramways were gradually phased out when the routes began to be electrified from 1923. Only the lines to West Wallsend and Speers Point were never converted to electricity and ran steam motors until November, 1930 when the lines were closed.

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PHOTO BELOW.

TRAM DEPOT AT PARNELL PLACE, NEWCASTLE.

PHOTO BOTTOM

TRAM No.92A WAITING AT WALLSEND DEPOT TO DEPART TO EITHER WEST WALLSEND OR SPEERS POINT. THE HEAVY SMOKE WAS DUE TO COAL BEING BURNT ON THESE ROUTES.

COKE WAS USED ON THE NEWCASTLE TO WALLSEND AND INNER SUBURBAN LINES TO REDUCE POLLUTION.

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