M&MTB Scrubber No 10W
This scrubber car was originally built by Meadowbank Manufacturing as a passenger tramcar for the Sydney tramway system. It was a member of the last class of single truck tramcars built for Sydney, the K class, built in two batches totalling 107 vehicles.
The K class were cross bench cars, with a half open, half closed configuration that was effectively the same as half of a Sydney O class tramcar. This particular tramcar was built in the first batch in 1908 as number 763. Like the other tramcars in this batch, it was later fitted with equipment for multiple unit operation with other first batch K class tramcars. Surprisingly, this equipment was incompatible with that fitted with the second batch on manufacture in 1913.
K class tramcars served on both the main Sydney system as well as the isolated North Sydney system. During its passenger service in Sydney, 763 is known to have operated out of Rozelle Depot on routes in Western Sydney. With the delivery of 250 R and R1 class corridor tramcars in Sydney by the late 1930s, scrapping of K class tramcars started in 1939, with all except two being withdrawn from passenger service by 1949.
However, 763 was taken out of retirement in 1952 and rebuilt as a track scrubber car, and renumbered as 138s in the Sydney service stock roster. It was followed a year later by the conversion of K class 797 into another scrubber car, number 139s.
With the wind down of the Sydney system in the late 1950s, both of these tramcars were sold to the M&MTB in 1959 for use in Melbourne, and became a familiar sight around the system, numbered 10 and 11 respectively. When not in use, these scrubbers were generally to be found in the now closed South Melbourne Depot. In 1975 they were renumbered along with the rest of the service stock, gaining the W suffix.
These tramcars underwent a number of minor modifications and changes in livery over their lengthy service as scrubbers in Melbourne. The livery started off being the passenger green and cream of the M&MTB, before changing to string with diagonal black stripes, and finally safety yellow with red diagonal stripes.
With the corporatisation and privatisation of the Melbourne tramway system during the Kennett ministry, ownership of 10W passed to Swanston Trams, later M>Tram, a subsidiary of the National Express Group.
10W was retired from service in late 2002 and donated to the TMSV by M>Tram, just prior to the withdrawal of National Express from tram and train operations in Melbourne. At this time it was the oldest land vehicle in regular commercial service in Australia, although this will soon be exceeded by its sister tramcar 11W which at the time of writing was still in service with Yarra Trams.
This historic tramcar will remain in its form as a scrubber.
Content copyright © Russell Jones 2001-3. Reproduced with permission.