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Celebrating Moorooka's Rich Tram History

20/07/2018
​Photo​ of the Tram line extension towards the new suburb of Salisbury. This is the tram turning onto Evans Road. (Photo courtesy of Qld State Library Archives). ​

The very first tram journey in Brisbane was made, with much fanfare, on the 10th of August 1885, when the first horse-drawn tram was pulled from Victoria Bridge to the Exhibition grounds by four heavy horses. The trams operated in Brisbane for another 84 years, until the last Brisbane electric tram completed it’s final run on the evening of Sunday April 13, 1969.

The Moorooka - Clayfield line was built in 1937, with the tram line traveling along Ipswich Road from Woolloongabba, turning onto Beaudesert Road at its inception, and terminating further along Beaudesert Road near Mayfield Road at the bustling Moorvale shopping precinct. The journey from Moorooka to the terminus at Clayfield took just over an hour, and at 17.8 km was the longest through-journey on the Brisbane network at the time.

When the tram line came to Moorooka, the locals must have really felt that Moorooka had been put on the map. But Moorooka locals couldn’t have known then that the Moorooka line was about to play an even greater role - this time in Australia’s war effort.

With the onset of World War II the Moorooka line was quickly extended to Evan’s Road, Salisbury in 1940, to transport hundreds of new shift workers working in the munitions factories that had been set up. Extra sidings were built here to accommodate the many new trams commissioned in readiness for wartime shift changes. The old terminus site in Moorooka remained an important operational point for the tramway after the terminus was shifted to Salisbury.

In 1942 when the USA entered WWII Moorooka experienced another surge in importanct, when hundreds (thousands?) of American GIs were stationed in Moorooka. The tram line would surely have been a lifeline for the visiting GIs, giving them easy access to the city for nightlife, music and R & R. 

During the war years, due to petrol rationing and extra travel by shift workers, the number of passenger movements across the Brisbane tram network skyrocketed, reaching 160 million passenger trips in 1944/45, up from 92 million prior to the outbreak of war. Amazingly, tram fares did not increase in price between 1926 and 1948, so trams would have been a very economical way for Moorooka locals to travel during the busy war period.

The closure of Brisbane’s tramways in 1969 marked the final chapter in Moorooka’s tram history. But now, after nearly half a century, there’s a chance for Moorooka to rekindle its love affair with the tram. Vic Track is disposing of 134 old Melbourne trams dating from 1927 to 1983. Moorooka State School has applied to acquire one of the old trams, so a piece of tram history could be finding a forever home in Moorooka. This tram is destined to be reinvented as a beloved outdoor play area and learning space, and will help today’s Moorooka students to connect with their rich local history.