The unveiling of the Glebe Tram Mural by Lord Mayor Clover Moore on Wednesday 8 March was the culmination of four years of planning. Without a considerable Cultural Grant from the City of Sydney, the artistic talent of Kelly Wallwork and the generous contributions of their memories by many past and present Glebe elders it would not have been achieved.
As facilitator of the project I’d like to extend my thanks to all who contributed and made it possible.
Can I join in raising a toast to Janice Challinor for her vision and persistence in bringing to fruition the ‘Memories of Trams’ mural in Hereford St. Congratulations also to muralist Kelly Wallwork for her quite magical interpretation of Leon Manny’s black and white photograph. This photograph was taken in 1958, the same year that the Glebe line closed and buses replaced trams.
The tram mural has been created on the side of one of a group of Italianate terraces with Federation influences (c1903) fronting Glebe Point Rd, which are named after Tasmanian rivers: No.168 – Derwent, No.170 – Tamar (name plate missing), No. 172 – Huon and No. 174 – Esk.
The mural will be a constant reminder to us that in some ways mid-20th century Glebe was not so different from the village we know today. We still need good public transport, we still need our local shops and we still need a local post office. Modes of delivery may change, but our needs are pretty much the same.
As far back as 1938, a decision was made by the State Government to phase out Sydney’s trams. The rationale was increasing suburbanisation, the rise of the motor-car and consequent congestion (at that time there were, after all, 11.85 motor vehicles per 100 people!). Petrol shortages during World War II led to increased tram patronage, but after 1945 usage fell away rapidly and by 1961 the very last tram on the Sydney network had been mothballed.
Whilst the mural and the nearby remnant tram tracks in Glebe Point Rd serve to remind us of this carelessly discarded mode of public transport, there is another extant reminder further down Glebe Point Rd outside the Woolcock Building (at No. 431). This is the waiting shed at the old tram terminus.
The clever use of the Hereford St site for the mural, along with its size, its exposure, the sense of depth, tricks of perspective, restrained use of colour and direct relevance to Glebe’s history, add to the tremendous impact of the artwork. Doubtless residents and visitors to Glebe will marvel at it for many years to come. Bravo.