History lost: Old trams and buses go up in flames as suspicious blaze destroys tramway museum storage shed


OCTOBER 24, 2015 4:22PM - KEELY MCDONOUGH and AMY HARRIS The Sunday Telegraph

The fire at Sydney Tramway Museum’s storage shed destroyed a number of vintage trams and buses. Picture: Sharon Quandt

A vintage tram that survived both World Wars and dated back to 1898 was one of 11 vehicles destroyed in a suspicious fire in Sydney’s south.

The tram, which operated as a passenger tram until 1910 before it was converted to a breakdown ­vehicle, was just days away from being removed from the storage ­facility and fully restored.

Also destroyed in the blaze at the Sydney Tramway Museum’s Loftus shed were two Sydney trams built in 1911, three semi-corridor trams from the 1930s and one Melbourne tram built in 1929. Two double-decker buses from the 1940s and two singles from 1950 were also lost.

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Police are investigating the suspicious blaze. Picture: Sharon Quandt 


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The shed before the fire. Picture: Tim Frawley. 


According to museum chairman Howard Clarke, the storage facility had been the site of dozens of break-ins leading up to Friday night’s fire.

“As soon as we would repair locks or broken panels, they would find another way to get in,” Mr Clarke said.

He said intruders would enter the premises at night to paint graffiti.

“It’s an awful day for us. Particularly given how old some of the trams were which we have lost,” he said.

“As a tram and history enthusiast it’s just awful.”

Mr Clarke put the cash value of the trams at around $60,000, though their sentimental value was enormous for local tram and bus enthusiast.

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The museum said there had been in the process of upgrading security. Picture: Sharon Quandt 


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The fire started on Friday night. Picture: Sharon Quandt 


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It took firefighters a number of hours to control the fire. Picture: Sharon Quandt


Patrolling Sutherland police spotted the fire at 11pm on Friday.

“The storage shed, which housed historical items, was completely destroyed by the fire,” police said.

“A crime scene has been established, and police will investigate the scene once it has been rendered safe,” police said.

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A piece of Sydney’s transport history was lost in the fire. Picture: Sharon Quandt


It took firefighters several hours to control the blaze.

In a post on their Facebook page, the museum said they had been in the process of upgrading the shed and its security before the fire.

“The Old Site Depot (the original location of the Museum) held a number of trams and buses awaiting restoration. These are a total loss,” the post said.

However they stressed that the main museum was unaffected and would continue to be open to the public.

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The storage facility had been targeted by vandals in the past. Picture: Tim Frawley.


There was an outpouring of upset and support on social media today from fans.

“What a sad loss for the museum,” Annette O’Keeffe said.

Sally Kelton added: “What a heartbreaking scene. Hope it wasn’t vandals.”

Photographer Sharon Quandt who was on the scene of the fire described it as “such a big loss”.

The loss of the historic trams comes as Sydney prepares to reintroduce trams.

Originally published as Sydney transport history lost in fire



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