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One hundred years of shelter


While the Great North Road at Abbotsford has changed markedly since this photograph was taken in 1918, the tram shelter (seen on the right) has remained a constant fixture for over a hundred years.

According to the Sydney Tramway Museum these shelters were called ‘Waiting Rooms’ or ‘Waiting Sheds’. The one at Abbotsford was erected on 21 July 1911.

The Abbotsford line opened as a steam tramway and was the last of the western suburbs tramways to be electrified. The fully electrified tramway opened on Sunday, 16 April 1905. The first electric tram to Abbotsford was N class car 647 which completed a trial trip a few days before the opening. Services were provided by the Rozelle Tram Depot and an improved service, running every twenty minutes, replaced the steam service.

Now serving as a bus shelter, it has recently been fully restored, ensuring it will continue to provide shelter for many years to come.

Along the Great North Road


An exhibition at Five Dock Library highlights the changes along the Great North Road over more than a century.

The Great North Road was built using convict labour between 1826 and 1836 and extended 240 kilometres north from Sydney to the Hunter Valley. For its time, the road was a significant engineering achievement and today a section has World Heritage listing.

The Five Dock to Abbotsford section of the road is the only section still retaining the original name, ’Great North Road’.

The land either side of the Great North Road was originally all part of one large land grant to Surgeon John Harris in 1792 and known as Five Dock Farm. In 1837 the land was subdivided into smaller lots by auctioneer Samuel Lyons. The area remained largely semi-rural until the introduction of a tram service in the 1890s promoted further subdivision of the area for housing.

The photograph shows a tram near the Abbotsford terminus in the 1890s. One imagines the well-dressed crowd may well have been spectators at one of the many rowing contests along the Parramatta River in that period.

The display continues at Five Dock Library until the end of 17 October 2016. There’s an album of the images on the library’s flickr page.

Bustling Five Dock

SCAN0412 (Small)

Great North Road, Five Dock looked quite different in 1916, when this photograph was taken, than it does today.

The photograph appeared on a real estate poster published for Arthur Rickard & Co to promote the release of land at Dobroyd Point, Haberfield and the Fairlight Extension at Five Dock.

Descriptive notes on the reverse of the poster state that ‘Fifteen years ago a steam tram at Marion Street, Leichhardt picked up passengers for Five Dock and Abbotsford, and ran hourly (later half-hourly) trips. From Leichhardt to Five Dock the land was known as Ramsay’s Bush and almost uninhabited…. Now there are nearly a thousand beautiful cottages, and there is a service of electric trams at intervals of 10 minutes for most of the day, and of 3 to 5 minutes in busy times.’ Present-day commuters can only envy such service.

Russell Lea turns 100

Hardie  Gorman's pamphlet advertising auction sale of the first subdivision of the Russell Lea Estate 15th Dec  1913

The suburb of Russell Lea came into being one hundred years ago with the the first auction of land from the Russell Lea Estate on the 15 November 1913.

Russell Barton (1830-1916) built his house, called Russell Lea Manor, on 24 hectares of land in the late 1870s. The first sales of land were made in 1913, 1914 and 1915 with further releases of land through the 1920s. The auctioneers Hardie & Gorman promoted Russell Lea as a convenient location ‘between two trams’ – ‘The Five Dock-Abbotsford tram is one minute from the estate; the Drummoyne tram within easy walking distance’.

After the First World War Russell Lea Manor was used by the Red Cross as a Nerve Hospital. It was demolished in 1925. Some images of Russell Lea Manor can be seen on flickr.

Tram to Cabarita


The late nineteenth century and early twentieth centuries saw a rapid expansion of tram services to meet the growing need for urban transportation.

In turn the tramlines helped to transform semi rural areas into suburbs.
By the 1920s Sydney had one of the world’s largest tramway networks which carried well over a million passengers each weekday.

The photograph shows an O-class tram on a trial journey to Cabarita prior to the introduction of a regular electric service in February 1912.

Do you have memories of trams in our area?