The group behind the campaign to save Bendigo’s trams when they were in danger of being sold off were acknowledged yesterday at the 40th celebrations of Bendigo’s Vintage “Talking” Trams.
Bendigo Tramways manager Jos Duivenvoorden said the celebration was a moment to recognise the effort and commitment of locals to keep the trams intact.
Member of the “rebels” group, Daryl McClure, said the unorthodox actions they took 40 years ago were worth it to see the trams operating today.
“It’s good to celebrate the fact they’re still running as the talking trams,” he said.
“We thought at the time that we just had to do everything we could to keep them in Bendigo.
“When one was going to be sent to Adelaide, we got into the workshop and about 20 of us pushed it back on the tracks.
“We welded a piece of pipe, stuck it across the tracks so the tram was going nowhere... I got on the phone to the transport union mover who was on his way to collect it and said maybe he should lose his way, and he didn’t come and collect it.
“That was our plan and it worked.”
Mr McClure said he wasn’t sure the vigilante-type actions would still work today, but he was glad they did it.
The trams have since operated as the talking tourist trams, with more than two million passengers riding the service.
Bendigo Trust chairman Lloyd Cameron said they had become an iconic part of Bendigo. “For 40 years they’ve been telling visitors about the history of this great city,” he said. “There aren’t many places where you can hear the history of a place while trundling along on a 100-year-old tram.”
As part of the celebrations, the refurbished No.8 tram that was built in 1903 was relaunched.
Fire Services Commissioner and former Tramways volunteer Craig Lapsley said he was glad to see the trams going strong. “I used to catch them to school and I’d hang around and get to ride up with the conductors,” he said.
“I think they’re still an iconic part of the streetscape.”