Tramway anniversary celebration postponed

September 3, 2021 BY

End of an era: The last Ballarat tram trip left the Royal Mail Hotel in Sebastopol. Photo: SUPPLIED

THE Ballarat Tramway Museum has postponed this month’s Tramway Celebration Day which was set to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the institution, and the last trip on the city’s tram network.

Board member John Whiting said the BTM was formed in 1971, four months before Ballarat’s public tramway ceased operation on 19 September.

“There had been plans for at least 10 years to close the network. This had its genesis post-Second World War. Private motorcar usage was on the rise, and television decreased Friday and Saturday night entertainment,” he said.

“People simply stopped riding on the trams for those reasons. The 19th signalled the end of tramcar operation in Ballarat, but it’s also the tail end of a cultural shift, from trams being preferred public transport in cities large and small, to bus operation.”

The BTM’s tourist service launched three years after the Museum first launched. Now in 2021, the institution is adding a building, but Mr Whiting said it’s not just a shed extension.

“This new building is helping us create a dedicated museum space where we can showcase tram cars, newspaper clippings and artefacts,” he said.

“We’re trying to expand our feelers as central community hub for other likeminded people and groups, as well as maintaining our role as a tourist attraction.”

The postponed Tramway Celebration Day will be a festival of vintage transport, embracing this aim.

“Our plans include several local car clubs, the local modern railway and miniature railway clubs, and anyone who owns an old car, bus or truck.

“It’s a community day where all of us can band together to tell the stories of the trams, and the development of transportation from the early-20th century,” Mr Whiting said.

“We’ll also have a grand vintage transport cavalcade, from one end of the tram line to the other. We’re trying to offer something for everyone, and we’ll hold onto, and develop, these ideas.”

BTM members are producing a video to mark the anniversary, which the community can view online on Sunday, 19 September. Visit btm.org.au.

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