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M&MTB U class no 205 (originally NMET&L No 4) in 1938. Photograph Ray Pearson.

M&MTB No 205 (originally NMETL 4) in 1938
Photograph Ray Pearson

This tramcar was imported in CKD form from the United States in 1906 for the North Melbourne Electric Tramway & Lighting Company, where it became No 4 in its fleet. It was a fairly standard single truck saloon tramcar manufactured by J.G. Brill of Philadelphia. The tramcar was acquired by the M&MTB in 1922 along with the NMETL when it was renumbered as No 205 and classified into the U class.

During its M&MTB passenger service days it was allocated to Essendon and Preston (Thornbury) Depots.

It was withdrawn from passenger service in 1939 and converted into advertising car No 19 for use as a decorated or illuminated tramcar. It was subsequently converted to a freight car in 1950 by removal of all internal passenger fittings, later being renumbered as 19W in 1976. After withdrawal in 1978, it was acquired by the TMSV in 1986.

Along with toastrack tram V 214 in the government’s Heritage Fleet, it is the oldest Melbourne electric tramcar in existence, these two tramcars being the only surviving NMET&L tramcars. It is the only surviving first generation saloon tramcar from Melbourne’s pre-M&MTB electric tramways (pre 1920), and is one of very few surviving tramcars in Australia manufactured in the USA and assembled from a CKD kit in Australia.

There are no other tramcars of comparable age and type remaining in Australia. It was one of the tramcars that opened Melbourne’s first permanent electric tramway (excluding the Box Hill-Doncaster line).

It is currently undergoing restoration back to NMETL No 4 under the State Government-funded training scheme, with a completion date of 2005. This work is being carried out by Bendigo Tramways, under contract to the TMSV. As part of the restoration scheme, it will be placed on loan to the State Government for display in Hawthorn Depot for a period of two years.

The preservation of this tramcar was due to the foresight of P.A. Hall and N. Maddock, who tirelessly lobbied the government of the day against considerable opposition to ensure its survival. Their efforts are officially commemorated in the Hall/Maddock Collection of the TMSV, of which this tramcar is a member.
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Last updated 30 April 2005.
Content copyright © Russell Jones 2001-5. Reproduced with permission.