Kalgoorlie Tramways

1902 - 1952

Kalgoorlie Tram 8

Kalgoorlie is situated some 600 kilometres inland from Perth, the capital city of Western Australia. In the 1890s significant gold discoveries were made in the state, notably at Coolgardie and shortly thereafter at nearby Kalgoorlie and its twin city of Boulder: Kalgoorlie-Boulder is the site of the famous "Golden Mile".

After the initial "goldrush" phase, it soon became clear that the Golden Mile contained an enormous amount of gold, which could be extracted by underground mining - leading to the formation of mining companies and a permanent population.

This led to the development of civic infrastructure, suburbs and the need for public transport. Railways and tramways were both to play a part in the public transport system of the area.

The Kalgoorlie Electric Tramways Limited was formed to build and operate tramways in Kalgoorlie and Boulder. This company had close links with the Perth Electric Tramways Limited, but unlike the Perth situation, the Kalgoorlie operation was to remain privately owned for most of its life.

Kalgoorlie Tram 25
Kalgoorlie trams led by #25, with a full load of passengers, soon after the opening of the system.

Kalgoorlie Tram 12
Tram 12 with an early form of advertising.

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The tramways began operation in May, 1902, and by 1905 the routes ran

Kalgoorlie Tramways Waiting for the tram in Burt Street, Boulder.
  • between Kalgoorlie and Boulder via
    • Salisbury Rd
    • Federal Rd
    • Boulder Rd [Boulder Block]
  • within Kalgoorlie to
    • Outridge Terrace
    • Lamington Heights [via Maritana St]
    • Collins St
    • Kalgoorlie Railway Station
    • Hannan St
    • Kalgoorlie Racecourse
    • South Kalgoorlie
  • within Boulder to
    • Kamballie
    • Fimiston
    • Hopkins St
    • Boulder Racecourse


The system as planned was at this stage complete, with 14.83 route miles, much of it in double track. This was a large system for the size of the town. By comparison the tramway systems in two other Australian gold towns, Ballarat and Bendigo, were of 13.84 route miles and 8.64 route miles respectively. No further extensions were made or needed to the original routes.

The years when the tramways were planned and built coincided with a time of maximum prosperity for the gold industry, which is dependent on world-wide forces. As the twentieth century unfolded, the fortunes of Kalgoorlie-Boulder and its tramway system fluctuated with the gold industry.

Operating costs were contained by the use of trailer cars - a single power car could have up to four trailers attached to it at shift change times at the mines.

Passenger revenue was supplemented by extensive use of advertising on the trams - always a prominent feature:

Kalgoorlie Trams Car Barn
At the Carbarn - 1 bogie car and 3 single-truck cars with a consistent advertising theme.

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After the 1914-1918 War, many soldiers did not return to the district. Alluvial gold deposits had been worked out, and the many retrenchments caused further population decline. Many houses in the outer suburbs were sold for use on farms, leaving a scattered population. As a result many of the lines to these suburbs, regarded as "branch" lines, were closed, leaving just the core lines within and between the twin towns.

Kalgoorlie Tram 2 Tram 2, as rebuilt, outside the Palace Hotel, Kalgoorlie

A revival of the gold mining industry about 1930 led to a revival of the tramways. The operating concession was extended by fifteen years, and many trams were renovated, with platforms being enclosed and some bodies being completely dismantled and rebuilt.


However, in 1936 another tram route was closed when it was found to be too expensive to extend the Boulder Block line from Fimiston to Chaffers. Instead a bus service was introduced, also replacing the trams on the Kamballie - Fimiston and Boulder Racecourse tram lines.

After the 1939-45 War, which temporarily brought more life to the town, the need for trams was reduced to peak hours and miners' Specials only. The Kalgoorlie Electric Tramways company was taken over in 1949 by the Eastern Goldfields Transport Board, which closed the system on March 10, 1952.

Kalgoorlie Tramways Hannan St Maritana St
Trams at the intersection of Hannan and Maritana Streets, Kalgoorlie

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Kalgoorlie Tramcars

This table gives some information about the Kalgoorlie tramcar fleet.

Tramcar
numbers
In
service
Capacity Description
1 - 15 1902 28 seats Single truck saloon
Body: JG Brill, USA
16 - 25 1902 56 seats Bogie saloon
Body:JG Brill, USA
16-20 sold to Perth, 1903
16 - 20
[2nd]
1904 28 seats Single truck saloon
Body: JG Brill, USA
Replacing original bogie cars 16-20
1 - 4 1930s 36 seats Single truck saloon
Body: Kalgoorlie Electric Tramways, WA
Original cars rebuilt
8 - 9 1931 56 seats Twin-coupled saloon
Converted: KET, WA
Original cars permanently coupled,
wired as single 4-motor car.
11 - 12 1933 75 seats Single truck saloon
Body: KET, WA
Original cars rebuilt and lengthened.

Trailer
numbers
In
service
Capacity Description
1 - 2 1902 40 seats Open, centre-aisle car.
Bodies later enclosed
3 - 7 1904 36 seats Single truck saloon

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HISTORY BOOK Tracks By The Swan Cover The story of Perth and its trams and trolley buses - 312 pages, richly illustrated ...
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Kalgoorlie Tramways Detail

Kalgoorlie Tramways Detail

Kalgoorlie Tramways Detail

Kalgoorlie Tramways Detail

Kalgoorlie Tramways Detail

Kalgoorlie Tramways Detail

Kalgoorlie Tramways Detail
PETS Contacts:
General:
Street Address:
Whiteman Park
Whiteman
Western Australia
Postal Address:
PO Box 257
Mount Lawley
Western Australia
Australia . . . 6929
Telephone:
(08) 9443 1945
Tram-car Hire:
0428 782 955
Workshops (Tuesday/Wednesday):
(08) 9249 2777
Web-Site:
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