Destruction and fun in trams' farewell

September 11, 1952

Last updated 05:00 10/12/2012
Trams farewelled

Souvenir hunters ripped the trams apart as they rode for the last time. Photo: E H Buckley.

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Four battered veteran tramcars limped back to the depot in Leven street last night after they had been bidden farewell by the people of Invercargill, and badly mauled in the process.

It was an event which everyone who took part in it will remember, but for the more thoughtful members of the community pleasant memories of the innocent fun which characterised the proceedings will be tinged with regret at the wanton destruction that was committed.

Those responsible for destruction of a needless character were mainly schoolboys and youths of the hooligan type.

The most noticeable of the wanton destruction was the breaking of tram windows.

This was particularly bad in two of the four trams that took part in the ceremony.

In one of these trams there was hardly a window in tact when it got back to the depot.

Many square yards of valuable plate glass were smashed.

Most of the wanton destruction took place after the trams had arrived at the tramway island from North Invercargill.

It was an unfortunate ending to what was otherwise a happy evening of high spirits and fun.

Soon after 6.30 four trams decorated with flags left the depot and travelled down to the post office.

Three of the trams belonged to the 10 that formed the original fleet with which the service was started in Invercargill 40 years ago.

The fourth was one of the smaller Birney trams, six of which were added to the fleet in 1922.

The last of the four trams to arrive at the post office was No.2, which in September, 1950, completed 1,000,000 miles of running.

Its milage now was chalked on one of the front panels - 1,041,000 miles.

The Birney tram also had its milage chalked on it - 657,643 miles.

There were a fair number of people waiting at the post office to board the trams for the run to the North Invercargill terminus.

Many more joined the trams enroute, and they were well filled by the time they reached the terminus.

The procession was led by No.2 tram, driven by Mr A. F. Waters, who is the only member of the original staff still employed on the trams, and who is retiring with the trams.

On the outward journey passengers began "souveniring".

Removable objects such as notice boards and advertising signs were appropriated.

Some young men had come equipped with screw drivers and similar tools to make the task easier.

After No.2 tram had reached the terminus, a young man discovered that the tram was equipped with blinds.

He pulled one of the blinds off, and soon there was not a blind left on the tram.

CHANGE-OVER TO BUSES MADE QUIETLY

The change-over from trams to buses on the North Invercargill line yesterday afternoon was made so unostentatiously that probably few people realized what was happening, or that the trams they saw moving along Dee street were making their last timetable runs.

Just after 2.45p.m a tram and a bus left the city for North Invercargill, the tram from the usual place and the bus from Pattison Ede's corner.

There were more passengers on the tram than on the bus.

At 3 p.m. a tram arrived in the city from North Invercargill. After it had discharged its passengers at the tramway island it was taken over from the driver by a member of the tram depot staff, who drove it back to the depot immediately after a bus had left for North Invercargill.

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At 3.35 p.m. a bus arrived in the city from North Invercargill bearing the destination sign, "South Invercargill."

This first bus was on the new service the North Invercargill terminus was closely followed by a tram, the last tram to make a timetable run in the city.

On its sides it had written in chalk, "Old Faithful we've roamed the rails together," "Good-bye. It has been good to know you," and "What oh, tonight!"

- The Southland Times

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