Adelaide-made Type A trams the first of 300 commissioned by the MTT from 1909 to 1953

Twenty-four Type A electric trams lined up to leave the the Hackney depot.
Image courtesy State Library of South Australia

South Australia's Municipal Tramways Trust's (MTT's) first 100 trams in 1908-09 had their bodies made at £100 each by Adelaide company Duncan and Fraser who had built horse tram cars for the Adelaide and Suburban Tramway as well as bodies for Melbourne electric trams. Up to its last purchase in 1953, the MTT commissioned more than 300 trams, some in service for 75 years.

Type A trams were the most common, with 70 of the initial 100 made in this single truck combination style. They incorporated a closed central saloon and open crossbenches on the same tram. Capable of up to 22 miles per hour (35 km/h), they had a seating for 29 in saloons with 20 in open benches. These trams had no airbrakes and instead used a handbrake for normal use and a magnetic track brake for emergencies.

Many trams were removed from lines and stored in the 1930s, returning to service in 1941 due to petrol rationing boosting passenger numbers. Fifty-eight were permanently joined in “Bib and Bub” (named after May Gibb comic character) pairs to conserve manpower until 1950. The pairs required a conductor on each tram to collect fares but only one driver.

From 1917, six A Type trams were used on the isolated Port Adelaide system that closed in 1935. Several were withdrawn from service after closure and were stored in Port Adelaide depot then transferred to Hackney depot/workshops until scrapped.  All Type As were withdrawn from service by 1952. Many were sold for use as shacks.

The types of trams ­– A, A1, A2, B, C, D, E, E1, F, F1, H, H1 – ­ varied over the years and all trams were numbered so their fate could be followed even when they were taken off the lines. For instance, Car 44 was used as a first aid room at Hackney depot between 1946 and 1961. Cars 45, 48 and 52 were used as store rooms at Hackney workshops to house the spare parts ordered for the proposed H1 fleet and a service that ended in 1954. Car 47 was used as a lunch room at Hackney workshops while Car 50 was partly converted into a driver instruction car in the early 1950s.

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