‘The Tramway nuisance’ – letter to SMH in 1882

Here at Tram Scrolls we are serious about providing quality tram and bus scrolls that look like the original 1950’s trams. In our quest to provide quality, genuine looking tram and bus banners we often research the history of the trams. We recently came across this letter to the Sydney Morning Herald, written in August 1882 not long after trams were first let loose on Sydney’s streets….  we thought you’d like it…

Bondi Tram photo

Bondi Tram



How the public have submitted so quietly to the turning of the styreets in the city and its suburbs into railway lines is beyond my comprehension. Hardly a week goes passes now without the occurance of some dreadful accident caused by the running of these steam locomotives in the narrow streets where even onmibus traffic requires to be conducted with care. To this juggernaut, we have already yielded as victims old and young, the strong and the infirm.  Those who are carried by it , and those that walk along the highways are equally within its power. The child who strays form an instant from the pathway, the man who alights quietly from the car when it has stopped, the man who jumps from it whiole it is still in motion., have been sacrificed. And now, as though these modes of taking lives are not fast enough, one car deliberately run into another with what effect in the way of bodily injury to the passengers thus chased, remains yet to be seen.

All this would be bad enough if these street railways were a necessity. It is plain, however, that they are not. It is astonishing how the desire for ease and luxury grows upon everyone. I can remember when there were no cabs or ‘buses’ in Sydney, and those who had no horses, gigs, or vehicles of their own, walked instead of riding or driving. The first public conveyance introduced to save this walking, consisted of a couple of sedan chairs, which took their ‘stand’ in Bridge Street more than 40 years ago. These chairs were not patronised and they speedily disappeared. We then had a couple of hackney coaches established by a person named A.Becket, who lived in Pitt Street, about where the Temperance Hall stands. Some time after those coaches commenced plying, the first omnibus started, and it was doubtful for a long time whether even two of them would meet with sufficient patronage to keep them going. Bit by bit however, the numbers increased, and cabs and coaches in large numbers came into existence; and now trhere is a growing desire to do away with practise of walking by carrying a railway to everyone’s door.

Is this, I ask, a wholesome state of things? Would it not be to the advantage of 99 out of every 100 of the patronizers of trams if they walked as in the old time? The mechanic thought nothing of tram,ping two or three miles to his daily labour; the schoolboy did the same to his school; the young men who made the excursions to Bondi or the lighthouse, or to other places equally distant, carried their ‘grub’ and tramped their 10 or 12 miles without any effort, and all of them – mechanics, schoolboy, and young men – felt much the better for the exercise.

We are rapidly crushing out the graceful, the peaceful and the picturesque and vulgarising every pursuit. And we are doing all this not only at the sacrifice of ease and comfort, but at the costs of mangling, mutilating, and slaughtering men, women and children in a manner and to an extent dreadful to contemplate. Why, I ask, do not the citizens rise up as one man to insist on the tearing up of these death dealing rails. Cannot a longer list be prevented by a tramway murders from being perpetrated by the villainous system of locomotion that has taken possession of some of our streets?”


Wow! Good hey, looks like people really weren’t too keen on these trams! I love the idea of people taking a leisurely 12 mile walk to Bondi and carrying their ‘grub’.

Here at Tram scrolls Australia we offer a massive range of tram and Bus scroll banners, we have 6 for Sydney along for the Eastern suburbs, from the city and the North Shore. The destinations we have used are primarily the real tram routes from the days of the trams in Sydney.

Visit us at www.tramscrolls.com.au or call us on 1300 632 332.

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