Milestone Birthdays for Tram No. 100 and No. 135!

It’s time to say “Happy Birthday!” to MOTAT Tram 100 and Tram 135. They have each reached a big milestone, turning 130 and 100! It also marks 50 years since Tram No. 100 came to MOTAT.

MOTAT loves trams! They’re an important piece of the Museum’s history and we know our MOTAT whānau love our iconic tram rides.

We are so excited to celebrate these two key birthdays for two very special trams. Let’s learn a little more about their journey from the workshop to MOTAT.

Tram No. 100:
Steam Tram No.100 represents a unique surviving example of steam tram technology, design, and use. It is the only one still operating and with limited modification to its original form and equipment.

Built in 1891 in Philadelphia, U.S.A., Steam Tram No.100 arrived in Sydney around 1892. It moved to Whanganui in 1910 where it was used until it was no longer required and sat in a scrap yard until Graham Stewart saw a story about Steam Tram No.100. Both Graham and friend Peter Mellor, pooled the weekly grocery money to buy the tram. Following a few years safely stored in Whanganui, it came to Auckland to join the MOTAT tramway collection. No.100 was fully restored to working order at MOTAT between 1971-1977 with further restoration performed to boiler and equipment in the years that followed.

Tram No. 135:
Tram No.135 was built in 1921. It operated throughout Wellington until 1957 when chosen for preservation by the Old Time Transport Preservation League, the forerunners of MOTAT.
No.135 arrived at MOTAT in 1964, shortly after the Wellington Tramway system closed and was stored on-site until restoration work began in the late 1970s. It is now restored to its original open centre configuration and painted in the 1920s Wellington livery of chocolate and cream.

MOTAT invited tram lover Scott Pilkington to go behind the scenes and shoot the cool tribute video below and interview some staff and volunteers who work with the trams. Scott explores the trams’ history and how they came to MOTAT, as well as showing both in action. When Auckland is out of lockdown, head along to a MOTAT Live Day to have a ride on these trams for their birthdays!

After watching the video, we had some questions for Scott, like, when did he become such a railfan?

Q: Why do you love trams so much?
A: I love riding on the ones from the 1910s-1930s. Beautiful woodwork, a real feeling of being on a piece of heritage engineering excellence.

Q: Have you ridden on trams in other places, and where?
A: Before I filmed them, I’d been on Tram 100 twice (once at Night Lights and once along a section of track to get a lift down to the tearoom) and had never been on Tram 135. After my video was posted on YouTube, it was great to hear from people who knew and loved them best and what was so marvellous about them.

I’ve ridden on the trams in Adelaide and Christchurch. I love just going around in circles listening to the different staff give different commentaries in Christchurch. And the Adelaide trams are evidence of what we should be doing in Auckland. I enjoyed the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) systems in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, but I’m not sure Auckland is ready for something that cool!

Singapore MRT

Q: Have you ever actually driven one?
A: I actually drive a tram for MOTAT down at M4 – Wynyard Quarter. Not during lockdown, of course. I’m hoping to make a film once we’re out of lockdown looking at the pair of Melbourne trams down there.

Q: Do you feel sad, or have any opinions about how trams have mostly been replaced by cars and buses in most places?
A: Moving away from trams to cars and buses is a little sad. They’ve lost some of that magic. I don’t drive a car, so I’m reliant on my legs, my pushbike (called Lola), or public transport to get around. I just have to take a little bit of time, but I get to see the city, have time to relax, and feel happy not to worry about parking, emissions – and I can take a nap in the middle of traffic!

Tram 222 climbing Wellesley St., 1955

Q: What is your favourite mode of transport?
A: I think any transport on rails has to be the best kind. Being on a train is much better than being on a bus. A bus is like all the bad bits of a car without the convenience – you slosh around, have to listen to people playing loud music, and busses are usually too hot or too cold.

A train is like being at home, but on wheels – you’re in a comfortable little building with changing views, usually no traffic, and a smooth, energy-efficient ride which is entirely sustainable if on electric power!

I’m disappointed it isn’t easier to ride trains more around Aotearoa – we could’ve gone north to Dargaville or Whangarei (where my mum and nana used to take a train), southeast to Tauranga, south to Wellington, or down to many, many places in the South Island.

OK, now you’re ready:
What MOTAT tram are you?
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