Pretoria Trams Anecdote
(about)1933 - 1937
|The following anecdote was very kindly sent to me by Mr Courtenay Smithers, who is in the process of writing notes of his early days in Pretoria for his family. I found it fascinating as it gives us a glimpse into the history of Trams in Pretoria, something we are sadly lacking on the internet as there is so little information out there. It will be especially interesting for viewers who are from Pretoria or who knew Pretoria in those days. Perhaps even to encourage others to share their stories and memories with us.|
|Mr Smithers writes :-|
In 1913 my parents moved to 555 Vermeulen Street, in
Arcadia, where Coral (b. 1913), Brian (b. 1914),
Lila (b.1916) and Noel (b. 1917) were born and where
they lived for about seven years.
One reason for the move might have been that it was much nearer, in fact a matter of only a few minutes walk, to the Union Buildings where Bob had his office. Skinner Street, in Sunnyside, was probably less convenient when it came to daily travel to the Union Buildings. He would have had little choice other than to walk from Sunnyside. I donít recall a tram service which would have enabled him to ride directly from Sunnyside to the Union Buildings.
There were, in fact, rattley old trams which ran to
the Union Buildings but they ran along Leydís Street
to and from Church Street where they connected with
trams from Church Square, at the centre of town.
For most of the day (and only on working days, if I
remember correctly) there was only one tram which
made the short run from Church Street to the Union
Buildings and back, a small one which could carry
only half the number of passengers which the usual
"big" trams could carry.
For many years the driver and conductor of the
small tram were always the same men and we came to
know them quite well. The conductor was a big,
jovial, man who chatted to us as we ran alongside
the tram but the driver was a much more surly
character who didnít like us at all. He would shout
at us when we did so but this, of course, only
encouraged us all the more to run alongside the tram
and chat to the conductor.
Now there is a road which follows the curving
route up the hill where the little tram took its
slow climb up the hill, making a whining noise in
its low gear. Keeping up with the struggling tram
was easy for us. In those days the tram line passed
between the pine trees of the plantation which grew
on the hillside. One of the boys who lived in
Hamilton Avenue was a good shot with a "catty" and
he enjoyed showing off his skill by bringing down a
dove or two from the pines. The driver of the train
didnít like the boy; I suspect he was worried in
case the boy let fly at him or the tram, but he
We occasionally sacrificed a penny from our meagre pocket money and put it the line so that it was squashed and flattened. Occasionally we lost our penny because it stuck to the tram wheel and was taken away instead of sticking to the rails. This was a sad event; we thought it quite unfair that we should lose our penny; sometimes we did find it further up the track.
At peak passenger times, when the office workers
arrived and left the Union Buildings, the small tram
was supplemented by a couple of big trams to provide
enough space to cope with the extra passengers to
and from Church Street where they could catch trams
which took them into town and elsewhere.
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