Melbourne & Metropolitan Tramways Board L Class No 104

This tramcar was the fourth of an order of six cars placed by the Prahran & Malvern Tramways Trust (PMTT) in 1919. It was built by James Moore and Sons, but was delivered in 1921, after the takeover of the PMTT by the Melbourne & Metropolitan Tramways Board. It was classified into its L class and numbered 104. The L class tramcars were only the second type of four motor tramcars used in Melbourne (the first being the Victorian Railways drop centre cars of 1917).

The L class cars are significant in the tramway history of Melbourne for a number of reasons. They were designed and ordered by the largest of the pre-M&MTB municipal tramways trusts, the PMTT. Their design was used as the basis for the M&MTB W class design of 1923, although that design was significantly simplified for effective mass production through elimination of curved sides and quarter windows. They were also the widest trams ever used in Melbourne, and the last trams designed before the founding of the M&MTB to be used in passenger traffic in Melbourne.

M&MTB No 104 on the traverser at Preston Workshops, 1968. Photograph courtesy Mal Rowe M&MTB No 104 on the traverser at Preston Workshops, 1968.
Photograph courtesy Mal Rowe.

These tramcars were originally fitted with ‘Malvern’ type roof-mounted destination boxes, but were soon modified to take the standard M&MTB destination box. The drop centre was rebuilt from a four-door format into the standard W2 three-door layout in 1934, with the seating arrangements also changed. In 1946-7 the drop centre floor was raised by two inches to reduce the step height into the end saloons.

No 104 entered service on 3 June 1921, and was allocated to five different depots during its years of service: Malvern, Brunswick, South Melbourne, and Essendon, but most of its life was spent at Glenhuntly.

All L class trams were withdrawn from regular service in 1969, but they continued to be used on a stand-by basis in peak hours, as well as during tramcar shortages resulting from industrial action, until they were finally stored in 1980. No 104 was subsequently painted in the pre-1930s chocolate and cream M&MTB livery and allocated in 1981 to Essendon Depot for use on the Zoo special Sunday service. After the ending of that service during the 1990s it was intermittently used on a variety of other tourist services.

No 104 is notable for its retention of original decorative veneer inlays in its internal roof advertising racks. It is now on display as part of the collection of the Melbourne Tram Museum. This heritage tram is owned by VicTrack on behalf of the Government and people of Victoria.

Technical details

Motors: 4 x 40hp (GE 247)
Controller: GE K35AA2
Truck: Brill 77E
Passengers: 48 (seated), 102 (standing)
Weight: 19.1 tons
Length: 45 feet 6 inches
Width: 9 feet 1˝ inches

Bibliography

Breydon, G. (1970) “Feeding and Filling: the story of the Prahran & Malvern Tramways Trust”, Running Journal, Tramway Museum Society of Victoria

Cross, N., Budd, D., and Wilson, R. (1993) Destination City (Fifth Edition), Transit Australia Publishing

Cross, N., Henderson, R. and Kings, K. (1981) Destination City (Fourth Edition), Australian Electric Traction Association