Restored Geelong No. 2 tram to welcome first passengers in nearly 70 years

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A 1900s tram, lovingly restored after spending its twilight years as a watering hole, will bring a slice of Victorian history to life when it returns to the tracks.

Canberra enthusiast Warrington Cameron worked for decades to restore the Geelong ‘number two’ (No 2) tram to its former glory after saving it from a farmer’s garden in 1991.

In its heyday from 1912 to 1956, the tram covered over 1.7 million kilometers and helped countless passengers get to their destination.

No 2 was taken out of service when trams were disconnected in Geelong in the 1950s.

Almost 70 years later, the tram will be launched at the Ballarat Tramway Museum on Sunday.

It will glide around the city’s Lake Wendouree, giving travel enthusiasts the opportunity to experience what life was like in Australia at the turn of the 20th century.

The Geelong tram was built in 1905 and remained in service from 1912 to 1956.(ABC Ballarat: Laura Mayers)

It took Mr Cameron 28 years to polish, shine and varnish the tram, with the help of a team of specialists including brass and steel casters, mechanical engineers, sign writers and spray painters.

Parts were shipped from China, the United States and Belgium to get the tram fully operational.

A wooden bench
The attention to detail and the loving restoration have been carried out by a team of specialists.(ABC Ballarat: Laura Mayers)

Mr Cameron has donated No 2 to the Ballarat Tramway Museum, where it will only run on special occasions to ensure the piece of history does not wear out.

The museum’s Neville Britton was the project manager behind the tram upgrade.

“Ballarat really got the tram, as you see it today,” Mr Britton said.

“We are very grateful for the generosity of the restorer who provided it to the Ballarat Tramway Museum,” Mr Britton said.

Mr Britton said he was happy to finally be able to launch the tram after receiving it last year as COVID caused disruption.

An old black and white photo of the tram
Geelong No. 2 in the early 1950s.(Provided: Wal Jack via Ballarat Tramway Museum)

“It’s so great to be able to drive these heritage vehicles,” Mr Britton added.

“We can actually run this tram; it’s been restored to working order, rather than just being a static display…we can let people experience what it was like to travel 100 years ago.”

John Whiting, a member of the museum’s board of trustees, said delays due to COVID-19 have kept the museum’s doors closed and closed.

Two men smile in front of a green and yellow tram
John Whiting and Neville Britton are delighted to have the historic tram running in Ballarat.(ABC Ballarat: Laura Mayers)

Operators hope to fully reopen to the public in October, after renovations and display changes, but Mr Whiting said they had not been complacent during the closures.

“Like everyone else, we’ve been in swings and roundabouts with opening and closing depending on COVID restrictions,” Mr Whiting said.

An old man points to details inside a tram
Mr Britton says the tram looks exactly as it would have in its early years.(ABC Ballarat: Laura Mayers)

“The rest of the tram museum will be scaled down a bit as we also have the mainline relay at Wendouree Parade – which is a big project coming in April and May.

“But once it’s all over…we plan to reopen with a bang!”

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