||Sydney's first tram was of the horse-drawn type, which ran down Pitt St from Central to Circular Quay in 1861 and ceased in 1866. In 1879, the steam tramway was established, with various isolated lines later developing throughout the Sydney region. As early as 1898, steam power was replaced with electrical-powered trams, with most of the system converted by 1910. The 1920s were seen as a hey-day for the Sydney Tram system, with up to 200 trams in use on lines to Leichhardt, Drummoyne, Ryde, Abbotsford, Glebe and Balmain. (Source: Railpage (www.railpage.com.au/news-2290.htm)
The tramline to Ryde grew slowly, first extending to Rozelle, then to Drummoyne over the Iron Cove Bridge. In 1905, there was much agitation for its eventual extension to Gladesville and Hatton's Flat at Ryde. The tramline was finally extended to Ryde in 1908 in lieu of the public's preference for an extension of the Ryde Railway line (Levy 1947: 131). The inclusion of Ryde into the Sydney tram system was commemorated in a local marble monument marking the "extension of the Sydney Tram Services to Ryde", 12th December, 1908. This monument, formerly located at the junction of Church and Park Streets, is currently positioned at the current bus terminal on Devlin Street. Whilst this celebration marked the turning of the sod and the commencement of construction, the extension with electrification was not completed until the 12th June 1910. Unlike other suburbs such as Parramatta, the Ryde line only operated with electrified trams, as opposed to steam trams or "Puffing Billy's" (Levy 1947: 132).
It was initially a single line, later duplicated from Rozelle to Ryde between 1906 and 1936. The tram terminus was established at the western end of Blaxland Road, located near the current Top Ryde Shopping Centre, and extended down Victoria Road through Gladesville, where it eventually terminated at Fort Macquarie (present site of the Sydney Opera House). The entire trip took approximately 61 minutes to complete, and was the single longest route on the Sydney tram network, measuring 10miles 61chains via Pyrmont. It was deemed by the Transport Advisory Committee (TAC) in 1932 to be "unsatisfactory", but was recorded by the Sydney Tramways Pocket Guide to be "one of the most enjoyable tram rides of the city system" (Martin 1998: 61).
In 1914 a single tram line was added between Ryde Post Office (corner of Church Street and Parkes Street) and West Ryde train station. The Sydney to Ryde service became very popular, particularly at weekends when Sydney residents would travel to the orchards of the Ryde District to buy produce.
World War II saw the temporary closure of the tram service, with Ryde being one of the earliest extensions to permanently close. It was recommended by the TAC that the tramline should be replaced by an omnibus service to the city to improve the efficiency of the service. Buses began to replace the Ryde trams in 1949 following the partial closure of the line from Gladesville. The (Top) Ryde to Ryde Railway line was replaced by a bus service as early as 1934, although the line was retained until 1936.
The Sydney tram system was Australia's largest in 1933, with a total rail length of 290km. It began to be shut down in 1939 with the closure of the Manly line, with the last line closed in 1961- 100 years after the first tram had been introduced in Sydney.
The overhead lines were removed and tracks were either pulled up or covered over. In recent years the tram services have been renewed in Sydney, with the Lilyfield to Railway Square service currently operating, with a proposal to extend the service to Circular Quay.