TRAM 159’s 85th BIRTHDAY
BUILT TO LAST
By Helen Tristram
2nd March 2010
It was fun day in Queen Elizabeth Park as Tram 159 celebrated it`s 85th birthday.
Children enjoyed the bouncy castle and lolly scramble and adults and children had a great time taking rides on the tram down to the beach end of the park and back.
Tram 159 was built in 1925 at Newtown Tram Sheds and is a fine example of one of the most numerous trams of Wellington Tramways.
Trams ran in Wellington from 1904 until 1964
They were part of the social fabric of the times and in the 1920`s they went to all the Wellington suburbs. People didn`t have cars.
The trams didn`t have much room for luggage, but if it was small enough it could go in the motorman`s cab, together with prams or foldable pushchairs that had to conform to the WCC standard.
Bundles of The Evening Post were also picked up from the printers in Willis Street for delivery to their distribution point.
Tram 159 has a motorman`s cabin at each end and passengers are carried in two closed saloons and an open compartment in between
The saloons had longitudinal seats of wooden slats and no armrests and each could seat 12 adults and standing passengers. These `ladies` saloons were known as `smoking not allowed`.
(In the 30`s, 40`s and 50`s ladies didn`t smoke.)
The open compartment had wooden seats with back rests that could be `flipped` forward or back to suit the direction of the tram and were known as the men`s compartment, – `smoking allowed`.
Schoolboys avoided `ladies` saloons if possible and when on their own would travel on the open compartment.
In the 1930`s, the open compartments were closed in and a pull down blinds were also fitted to the open doorways to combat the Wellington winds and to make travelling more comfortable.
The wood used for the seating was Australian Maple as it was more flexible and could `give` with movement. South Island Ash was also used in the building of the Trams.
Originally not built for comfort, but definitely built to last.