Heritage and conservation register

Item

Name of Item Tram Track on Blaxland Road, Ryde
Item Number 4310588
Type of Item Archaeological-Terrestrial
Item Sub-Type ****
Roadloc  
Address **** Blaxland Road Ryde 2112
Local Government Area Ryde City 
Owner Roads and Maritime Services
Current Use Road
Former Use Tram track/roadway

 

Statement of significance

Statement of significance The extension of a tramline from Fort Macquarie to Ryde in the early 1900s represented one of the earliest public transport solutions for this region. The Ryde line was the longest tramline in the Sydney system, and was created in lieu of the more preferred extension of the Ryde train line. Despite a successful run, the tramline was closed following pressure to shift to buses as a more economical and lucrative option. The remnants of this tramline (currently beneath Blaxland Road) provide an historical link to this now disused transport service.

The site is assessed as having Local significance.

Date Significance Updated ****

 

Description

Designer ****
Builder ****
Construction years 1908 - 1910
Physical description Remnants of the former tram track (concrete) thought to be under the existing roadway.
Physical Condition
and/or
Archaeological Potential
****
Modifications and dates An additional single line was added from Blaxland Road at Church Street to the West Ryde Railway station in 1914.
Date condition updated ****

 

History

Historical notes 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.

 

Listings

Heritage Listing Reference Number Gazette Number Gazette Page
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register       

 

Assessment of Significance

Historical Significance Based on information from Ryde City Council, concrete from the tramline is retained beneath the current road surface on Blaxland Road. This item relates to the extension of tram services to the Ryde region in the early 1900s, and is associated with the development of transport and communication in the area and its broader connectivity with Sydney and other suburbs. As the item has been substantially altered, including the removal of the tracks, power lines and other related features, it is assessed as having low local significance.
Historical Association The former tramline is generally associated with the local community of Ryde, and is assessed as having low local significance.
Aesthetic/Technical Significance As the concrete from the tramline is believed to lie beneath the current road surface, its aesthetic value has not been assessed. However, the memorial associated with the lines commencement located on Devlin Street is considered to be aesthetically significant as a cultural landmark, and retains a majority of its original fabric.
Social Significance Whilst the former tram service can be considered significant as a historic phase of transport development in the Ryde region, the potential remains have been assessed as having little significance under this criterion as they do not contribute to the current community's sense of place, nor does it offer a significant visual or social reminder of this system.
Research Significance As the tramline is currently in an archaeological context, it technical significance is unknown. However, it has been assessed as having moderate local significance in terms of its potential to yield information associated with its construction and location. It should be noted that information about the historic past of the Ryde tram service (and Sydney system in general) is readily accessible from other sources.
Rarity The concrete remains are not considered to be a rare example of the Sydney Tram system. Evidence for this line is still available and has been incorporated into the Sydney Light Rail system presently operating between Central and Lilyfield.
Representativenes As the remains on Blaxland Road are considered to consist only of the concrete base, and not the actual tram lines, it is assessed as being as poor example of its type. Despite the alterations to the current operational Light Rail system, this is considered to represent a better example of the former Sydney service, particularly the loop located at Central Station.
Integrity/Intactness As the item is in an archaeological context, its integrity has not been assessed. It is assumed that the tracks have been removed and that the original concrete associated with the former line are presently conserved under the current road service.
Assessed Significance Local

 

References

 

Type Author Year Title
Written  Keenan, David R.  1979  Tramways of Sydney 
Written  Daniel Percival, Roads and Maritime Services Environmental Technology  2005  Heritage Assessment of Tram Track for Roads and Maritime Services S170 Register 
Written  Martin, Megan  2004  Ryde: A Pictorial History 
Written  Levy, M.C.I.  1947  Wallumetta: A History of Ryde and its District 1792-1945 
Written  Geeves, Philip  1970  A Place of Pioneers: The Centenary History of the Municipality of Ryde 

 

Study details

Title Year Author Inspected by Guidelines used
Roads and Maritime Services Review: Heritage and Conservation Register Warringah Sub-Region  2004  City Plan    Yes 

 

Custom fields

Roads and Maritime Services Region Sydney
Bridge Number ****
CARMS File Number ****
Property Number Road Infrastructure
Conservation Management Plan ****

 

Images

This photo depicts the present day intersection of Blaxland Road and Church Street. All of the historic features of the road identified in the 1914 image have been since removed, including the tramline and memorial.
This photo depicts the present day intersection of Blaxland Road and Church Street. All of the historic features of the road identified in the 1914 image have been since removed, including the tramline and memorial.

Intersection of Parkes Street (now Blaxland Road) and Church Street, featuring the memorial lamp at the centre of the frame. An inbound tram is visible on the 1914 extension arriving from West Ryde station. (1914)
Intersection of Parkes Street (now Blaxland Road) and Church Street, featuring the memorial lamp at the centre of the frame. An inbound tram is visible on the 1914 extension arriving from West Ryde station. (1914)