Flashback: Establishment of SPER at the Royal National Park

In the early days of the society, progress on the establishment of the museum at the original Royal National Park site was documented by members who participated in the weekly working bees. One of these members was SPER stalwart Barry Tooker, who filmed a series of events between 1959-1961, highlighting the construction of the original RNP depot among other things. These films were complied into a 16mm reel entitled “SPER History No. 1 – A Tramway in the Making”; intended for presentation at member’s days and other gatherings. Until recently, this reel was stored in the museum’s film archives unseen by the general public. A recent digitisation effort however, has allowed this film to be uploaded to YouTube, providing viewers the chance see the small beginnings of the current Sydney Tramway Museum. This is some of the earliest known footage of the museum to exist and contains some of the following highlights:

  • Dismantling of a wartime charcoal storage shed at Wolli Creek per-way yards for roof materials.
  • Construction of the old site depot between 1959-1961.
  • Loading of O 1187 for shipping to the Oregon Electric Railway Museum in the United States.
  • Loading of P 1700 for shipping to the Seashore Trolley Museum, Maine, in the United States.
  • P 1497, R 1740 and the Kogarah Trolleybus substation equipment being delivered to Loftus in August 1961.
  • Opening of the ‘old’ site for static display in December 1961.
  • Film hiring by Channel 10’s “Ten on the Town” program in December 1965.

Video: Barry Tooker