Sunday, October 06, 2013

The Beaumaris Tramway Company

There's a  street in Beaumaris called Tramway Parade - its origins come with a piece of local history that can  be found within the archives of the Kingston City Council. KCC covers the suburb of Mentone where we live. No sign of the Beaumaris Tramway Company remains today except for the street sign, "Tramway Parade".

The horse drawn tramway was the brainchild of land speculator, Charles H. James and no doubt he saw the building of a tramway as a business opportunity to sell land. The railway ran from Melbourne to Sandringham near Bay Road. A second line ran from the city to Cheltenham. It was Charles James' aim to link these two stations via his horse drawn tramway which would take a course over the land he hoped to sell.

The Beaumaris Tramway route marked in red.
The first section began in February 1889 from the Cheltenham Station and took a route down Charman Road, turning right at Balcombe Road where it then turned left at the street that still carries its name - Tramway Parade.
Taking its course on a straight ahead direction before meandering it finally reached the beach at Rickett's Point on Beach Road.
At the same time, the route from the Sandringham Station took a course along Beach Road to the Black Rock corner where Balcombe Road and Beach Road meet. Eventually the two tramways met to connect the railway stations of Sandringham and Cheltenham.

The main reason behind the formation of the Beaumaris Tramway Company was to sell land by Charles H. James, Land Speculator of the 1880s.
Stables for the Tramway horses.
Chaff for the horses at Pellatt Street Beaumaris
With the tramway being powered by both two and three horses at a time, there was a need to house and feed them. Stables were set up midway where 25 acres were set aside to grow oats and for stables to be built. This was in the region of Oak and Pellatt streets.

The horse drawn tramway leaving Sandringham House on Beach Road.
During those prosperous times of the late 1880s, there were all sorts of land speculating going on and businessmen privately financed infrastructure in the hope that by bringing people to the area, they would become rich through the sale of their land. Many did but unfortunately the Beaumaris Tramway after serving its purpose for the speculators, became unprofitable. The operators allowed the tramway to fall into disrepair. It often derailed due to the lack of maintenance and people refused to use it.

Look closely and you can see the tramway tracks to the right of the then Beach Road.
The tramway continued to run until 1915 when the depression started to hit Australia. That would be the end of the Beaumaris Tramway Company. Charles James obviously had vision for the area as much of the real estate from Sandringham to Beaumaris and then Mentone and Mordialloc today are much sought after. Beach Road which was once a sandy country track is now a main thoroughfare with huge homes overlooking Port Phillip Bay. I'm also happy to say that its the most prolific training route of elite and weekend warrior cyclists that is quite unmatched throughout the world I'm told.
Losing its popularity due to poor maintenance and an infrequent timetable, the tramway closed down in 1915.
Charles H. James foresight was the inspiration of a second tramway, an electric one that began operation in 1919, but that's another topic for a future post.

Much of the reseach comes from TROVE, and the Kingston Historical Society.


  1. Those overloaded trams look too heavy for the horses to pull, but the tracks would have made the pulling easier (I assume).
    Interesting piece of Australian history.

  2. You noted that the railway ran from Melbourne to Sandringham near Bay Road. A second line ran from the city to Cheltenham. And these two stations were linked via the horse drawn tramway.
    How far was that?
    And how long did it take?

  3. Hels
    I don't know how long it took but research tells me that the journey became longer as the tracks fell into disrepair. The distance maybe was about 10 kms.
    That's just a guess but I do ride the route on the bike occasionally as a resident in the area.

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