World’s biggest trams were in Durban
ELECTRIC buses, such as BYD and Volvo are building, are not new. Kevan Mardon, expert in the history of transport in eThekweni Municipality, reports trams powered by electricity were introduced on May 1, 1902.
The first ones were imported. The municipal workshops in Durban began building their own tram bodies in 1910, fitting them with imported motors.
The trams built in Durban had the distinction of being the largest in the world.
They were equipped with a driving position at both ends and passenger seat backs which could be flipped to allow the passengers to face forward no matter which way the tram was travelling. In addition to the normal passenger trams, the Durban Municipal Transport Department operated a number of specialised trams including watering trams, which sprayed unpaved streets to keep the dust down, observation trams which were used to check the state of the tram lines, and stone trucks which were used to transport stone from the quarry near the Umgeni River for use in road building.
The department also operated two funeral trams which are believed to be unique in the world and which provided space for a coffin and 12 mourners to sit. The funeral tram service first ran in 1907 and caused a huge outcry among the town’s funeral directors who were still using horse- drawn carriages.
The service for the white population of Durban was suspended after the second trip although that for non-whites continued until 1931.
The last electric tram ( No. 7015), affectionately known as Old Faithful, ran in Durban on August 2, 1949.
Dear Old Durban author Aileen Gordon- Huntley had the unique distinction of riding on both the first and the last trams. — www. fad. co. za.