Oriental Bay Tram Route to be Celebrated

18 September 2012

More than 60 years after the last tram ran on Wellington's Oriental Bay route, Mayor Celia Wade-Brown will unveil an interpretive panel telling their story tomorrow (Wednesday 19 September).

The event, next to the site of the old tram terminus at the eastern end of the bay, will involve a traditional cutting-of-the-ribbon by well-known historian, author and tram aficionado Graham Stewart.

Mayor Wade-Brown says while many Wellingtonians would now not realise trams ran round the bay, there's still a lot of nostalgia for the old service among the Oriental Bay community. "The tram shelter was listed as a heritage building in the 1990s, but some passersby have been unsure of what it is or why it's there.

"We wanted to put the shelter into context, and this new panel does exactly that," says Mayor Wade-Brown.

The panel tells the story of the service's inception in 1904, and then details the last tram service to Oriental Bay in 1950.

Wellington City Engineer William Morton designed the tram shelter, paying homage to the Queen Anne-style favoured by architect 'Gingerbread George' Troup (Sir George Alexander Troup, CMG) - the man who designed railway stations throughout New Zealand - including the famous Dunedin station.

In Wellington City, trams were the dominant forms of transport from the late 1800s right through until the 1960s. However, after the Second World War, trams were seen as the transport of the past - particularly with trolley buses and more cars on the roads.

In 1949, the trolley-bus service to Roseneath began. The much-documented last tram from Oriental Bay departed in May 1950. Hundreds of people attended the event.

Mayor Wade-Brown is a proponent of the modern tram - light rail - and hopes for the return of tramlines through the city from the Railway Station to Newtown and beyond. "Early town planning around transport has much to teach us still," she says.

The launch will be at 12 noon at the intersection of Carlton Gore Road and Oriental Parade. In case of wet weather, the launch will be in the Mayor's reception room in the Town Hall.