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New attraction for Tramway Heritage Centre at Bylands

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By Pam Kiriakidis

Bylands’ Tramway Heritage Centre last month added a W8 from the late 1930s to its collection of W-class trams, with the aim to attract more visitors to the museum.

The W8 tram was retired after the State Government upgraded a few archaic Melbourne W-class trams in the early 1990s, previously used for the city circle lines.

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Heritage centre secretary Graham Jordan said the tram, numbered 922, was the latest piece in the museum’s collection.

“By having this tram, even though it’s a prototype, and incomplete, this means … we have one of every version of W-class trams that was ever built, so that means 15 versions of them,” he said.

“Now we’ve got at least one of each of these versions.”

Positioned at the front of the Bylands museum, the tram will be installed as a picnic tram for visitors, with decking and a roof added, and ramps levelled to the floor. The centre also hopes to add headlights in the next few years to complete the tram.

Mr Jordan said the project was a community piece for local people to be part of, and he encouraged more people to join as active volunteers at the centre.

“We’ve only got a very small core membership, [who are] participating members,” he said.

“We’ve got to try and build up members and get people interested in this type of thing – handymen and people like that [who] are looking for something to do.”

Mr Jordan said government and community donations would be appreciated to help rebuild and restore the trams.

“It would be helpful because we’re a volunteer, not-for-profit organisation, so any money we raise by people coming and visiting the site, that’s what we would channel the money into,” he said.

The museum is in the process of a rejuvenation, starting works inside the main museum to attract more visitors.

The centre does not currently operate trams, but chairman William Fedor said the newest piece was a ‘drawcard’ for the rest of the museum.

“The most amazing thing you notice is that we now have an attraction for the front gate,” he said.

“It’s a sense of belonging … because it’s been so many years where we’ve been trying to find some other way out to re-connect with the community.

“We’ve had so many people from the local community visit and realised ‘oh you’re still here’.”

For more information or to help the Tramway Heritage Centre, email graleenj@optusnet.com.au or call 9798 6035.

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