Geelong tram reborn in a new city

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The Ballarat Tramway Museum’s latest acquisition, the Geelong 2 tram, took its first local passengers to the Botanical Garden last weekend.

It was officially revived by BTM Chairman Paul Mong, its former immediate caretaker Warrington Cameron, and the respective Mayors of Ballarat City and Greater Geelong City, Cr Daniel Moloney and Cr Trent Sullivan.

Built in 1911 by Duncan & Fraser of Adelaide for the Geelong system, Tram 2 traveled a million miles until decommissioned in 1956, and is the only surviving tram in the original fleet of the city from the waterfront.

Representatives from eight different Australian tram museums came to view the car on track last Sunday, which was donated to the museum by Mr Cameron, a Canberra-based restorer.

“We are very lucky to be able to launch this very historic tram,” Mr Mong said.

“It didn’t work in Ballarat, but [is appropriate for our Museum] because of its historical value, the connection Geelong had with Ballarat during SEC operations, and the level of detailed restoration carried out by Warrington.

“Having spent nearly 30 years in Canberra, we believe the tram is acclimatized to operate in Ballarat as well. We truly appreciate this wonderful gift and will care for and cherish it for many years to come.

The tram had been based at the Shoppee family farm on the Bellarine Peninsula for 35 years, containing animal feed, but they wanted it to go to a more suitable home.

Mr Cameron became its custodian in 1991, installed it next to his house and restored it over a period of 28 years.

He said the project was a “team effort” with assembly by Mr Mong at BTM and “electrical and pneumatic” work by Bendigo Tramways. Pieces come from places such as the Tramway Museum Society of Victoria, the Seashore Trolley Museum in Maine, the Brussels Tram Depot, and Adelaide.

As trams no longer operate anywhere in Geelong, Mr Cameron has decided to donate Geelong 2 to BTM where it will run on special occasions and be on display all year round in their new purpose-built museum building.

BTM driver Chris Phillips is one of a small group of people qualified to operate the tram.

“It’s a privilege to drive something that is so historic and something that has been so beautifully restored,” he said.

“We have to drive it extremely carefully and slowly, because it’s a bit different from our other trams. It has very big and powerful motors, much bigger than anything we’ve had, but it’s a very smooth ride.

Museum visitors will be able to ride Geelong 2 again on Sunday 27 February. This Saturday, February 12, BTM will host an information session starting at 10 a.m. for anyone interested in becoming a volunteer.

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