A winding road
A defining characteristic of the West Coburg electric tramway is its
meandering route through Royal Park and the suburbs to its north. It
was the first greenfields tramline to be constructed by
the M&MTB, and its route required considerable negotiation with
Each curve and deviation has a story to tell.
- The route through Royal Park is described in precise surveyors
detail in the Melbourne to West Brunswick Tramways Construction Act
(1922). The curves south of Elliott Avenue were likely the negotiated
path around some of the sporting facilities of the 1920s that no longer
exist. The curves between the railway underpass and Brunswick Road
were to avoid a railway level crossing while still serving the station,
and then to connect with the existing Grantham Street through a golf
course and a market garden.
- Where Melville Road begins at Dawson Street, a long radius curve
through private land was chosen instead of a right angle turn and
ascent along Daly Street. The chosen route provided better gradient
and visibility for both trams and motor vehicles. It also provided
the location for the tramways electrical substation.
- The curve at Melville Road and Hunter Street is where the new extension
from the south joined the existing Melville Street. At this time Melville
Street extended from Hunter Street to Albion Street. For the first
two years, the permanent way from Hunter Street to Albion Street was
only a single track.
- From Albion Street, Melville Road was built through open land, over
a watercourse and into Howie Street to reach Moreland Road. The curves
at Moreland Road were required because Howie Street did not align
with the vacant land available to extend Melville Road north of Moreland
- Between Lever Street and Reynard Street, the northwest deviation
of Melville Road was built through open land to line up with a suitable
street in a new subdivision north of Reynard Street. The options were
Victoria Parade (now Springhall Parade) or Imperial Avenue (now Melville
Road). Both could be extended northward into Derby Street and both
could be widened to make a tramway avenue, which was the initial M&MTB
proposal. While depicted as narrow residential streets on maps of
the day, most of the area was still undeveloped open land that allowed
for these changes. For the first 19 years, the permanent way from
Reynard Street to Bell Street was only a single track.
- North of Bell Street, it appears that Turner Street was only developed
after tramway construction ceased in 1927. According to a long time
resident, a reserved strip of land remained along the centre of Turner
Street until the late 1950s/early 1960s perhaps in the hope
of a future tramway extension.
- The southwest corner of Bell Street and Melville Road was a vacant
block of land with a standard T intersection until the late 1950s.
Children played on this grassed block while parents shopped. In the
late 1950s, the land was developed with the curved roadway and shops
as they are today.
The newly constructed permanent way viewed from just south of the
Melbourne to Fawkner railway embankment (c1925). Note the clean ballast
under the track, the new platform stop and the timber picket fence
around the Zoo.
- Photograph from the Ron Scholten collection.