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Where do Christchurch’s trams come from?

The immaculately-restored heritage tramcars that run through the streets of central Christchurch have become icons of the city over the past 20 years, but did you ever wonder where they come from? There are seven tramcars in total dating from 1903 to 1934 which have operated in various places:

Tram 11 – our small red and brown ‘Box Car’ tram is the oldest in the fleet and was built by J.G Brill in USA. The tram operated on the streets of Dunedin and is one of 14 that was built for the city.

Tram 15 – our small brown ‘Birney’ tram joined our fleet after the earthquakes and was the last tram to run in Invercargill. This was built by J. G. Brill in the USA in 1921 and is one of 6000 that was built worldwide.

Tram 15 before and after restoration

Tram 152 – our green and cream ‘Boon’ tram is painted in the old Christchurch Tramway Board livery and was built in Christchurch by Boon & Co in 1910 to operate on the city streets.

Tram 178 – the workhorse of the fleet, our red and cream ‘Brill’ tram was also built in Christchurch by Boon & Co back in 1922. One of 25 trams that were built, these trams are common sights in old photographs of central Christchurch.

Tram 244 – the maroon and cream ‘W2 class’ tram from Melbourne is the biggest tram in the fleet (and is the only one with heaters on board, making it very popular in winter!) The tram was built in Melbourne in 1925, and was originally painted brown when it operated in Christchurch prior to the earthquakes before it received a paint job prior to returning to the city.

Tram 411 – our navy blue ‘W2 class’ tram has been converted to a restaurant and operates nightly as the Christchurch Tramway Restaurant. The tram was built in Melbourne in 1927 and is the same type of tram as Tram 244, of which there were 406 built.

Tram 1888 – the newest (and youngest) tram in the fleet, the bright blue ‘R class’ tram was originally named Tram 1808 and was built in Sydney in 1934. The tram recently operated in Auckland before moving to Christchurch to begin operating in late 2017.

Most of the trams are owned by the Heritage Tramways Trust and have been restored by the HTT team at Ferrymead in Christchurch – some have been rescued and restored after being used as sheds and holiday homes, and it’s amazing to see the transformations!

Check out an information sheet about our trams via the following link: https://www.christchurchattractions.nz/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/City-Tram-Fleet.pdf.