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Adelaide H No 373

This tram was built in 1929 as one of a class of 30 for the Municipal Tramways Trust (MTT) of Adelaide, by A. Pengelley & Co at their plant in Edwardstown, South Australia. Numbered between 351 and 380, these cars were built for service on the Adelaide-Glenelg line, newly converted from a heavy railway, and as such were popularly known as ‘Glenelg’ or ‘Bay’ cars.

Adelaide H class No 373 at Glengowrie (Adelaide).

The Adelaide H class design was strongly influenced by American interurban design practice, being one of the last examples of this composite steel-timber interurban construction before the revolution of all metal tramcars appeared in the 1930s, as evidenced by the well-known PCC tramcar and Brill ‘Bullet’ interurban designs. The cars were designed to operate in multiple-unit configuration, with double and triple coupled sets being common, although the latter practice ceased in February 1937 following a fatal accident at Grovene. The cars were technically advanced for their day, being fitted with PC5 automatic acceleration control equipment and Tomlinson automatic couplers. Significantly larger, heavier and more powerful than Melbourne tramcars, they can carry 64 seated passengers, with a crush load of 170.

These cars are significant in that they are the only Australian examples of classic late American interurban car design, and contrast strongly with the Australian drop centre design tradition represented in the majority of tramcars in the TMSV collection.

H class cars operating out of City Depot were regularly used on the Glenelg, Henley North and Kensington Gardens lines. After the latter two lines were closed in February 1957, H class cars also saw use on the Cheltenham-Wayville West service. In addition, these cars were popular on special Racecourse and Showgrounds duties, due to their high passenger carrying capacity, especially in coupled sets. With the closure of all Adelaide street tramways except the Glenelg line on 22 November 1958, these tramcars operated the only electric tramway service in South Australia.

Their original livery was the Tuscan Red and cream of the MTT, although they succumbed to the modernizing fashions of the 1950s, appearing in an unbecoming silver and red colour scheme. No 373 was the first H class car to revert to the old livery in 1972, in which it remains to this day.

This car was the last H car to receive a traditional refurbishment in the 1980s, having its traditional trolley poles replaced by a pantograph. During this period, the H class cars moved from their traditional home at City Depot to a new depot at Glengowrie. The five cars that underwent major overhauls following this were converted to modern chopper control systems, but the majority of the cars continued to operate services on the Glenelg line until it was announced by TransAdelaide that tramcars with original control systems would be replaced by modern Flexity low floor articulated tramcars in 2006. The TMSV tendered for one car for service at Bylands, and was successful in obtaining number 373, which is expected to arrive early in 2006.

This car will remain in the condition in which it left service, although the pantograph will be replaced by trolley poles for operation at Bylands.

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Last updated 5 December 2005.
Content copyright © Russell Jones 2001-5. Reproduced with permission.