MONTHS of preparation and excitement led to the arrival of the old Melbourne W871 tram at the Terang Returned and Services League (RSL) sub-branch hall last week.
Sub-branch members and VicTrack contractors closed off part of Shadforth Street to make way for the large truck and two cranes set to deliver the tram to its new home.
VicTrack’s Retired Trams Strategy would see 134 out of 237 recently retired trams provided to schools, community groups and other not-for-profit organisations.
Terang RSL sub-branch president Steve Bloxham said plans for the tram included outfitting a section as a replica World War II recruitment centre.
“When the allocation of trams was on offer, I thought of the idea of converting one of them to a WWII recruiting tram, an information/education centre and a drop-in centre for veterans and their families,” he said.
“I approached (World War II veteran) Len Pomeroy and had asked him about the trams in Melbourne during that period and he told me the story of seeing recruiting trams travelling through the CBD.”
Plans for the refurbishment included the construction of a protective roof, a detailed internal and external clean and painting the tram in its original colours of green and yellow and including its original number of 871 on external panels.
Internally, plans have outlined one end of the tram acting as an information centre, fitted out with a smart television, seating, carpet, an interactive iPad and a Bluetooth sound system.
Under the project plans, the other end would replicate a World War II recruiting centre, complete with a desk, a manual typewriter, a Bakelite telephone, framed recruiting posters and a mannequin dressed in a World War II army uniform.
The centre of the tram would remain untouched, with interpretive signage also placed on the exterior of the tram with the history of the W871 tram on display for visitors.
Mr Bloxham said the ultimate aim of the project was to provide local students and community groups with an interactive look into the World War II recruitment process.
“The purpose of this project is to honour those who served in World War II and how the message was sent out via the recruiting process to bolster the armed services of Australia in the early stages of war in 1939,” he said.
“Apart from the historical content that will be displayed in the tram, we will involve our community in the RSL and will invite local schools and community groups for input and educational themed involvement during the process of re-purposing the tram into an ongoing active information interactive museum piece.
“The tram will also be a meeting place for former members of the armed forces, their families and friends to enjoy each other’s company and to participate in planned social events, as well as access information, advice and advocacy on repatriation claims, as well as assistance in health and community services.”
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Member for Western Victoria Gayle Tierney said she was looking forward to seeing the completed project and how it would benefit the local community.
“The refurbishment of this tram will give locals the opportunity to work on a project that will give back to the community, while transforming a Victorian transport icon into a new landmark for Terang,” she said.
“It is exciting that a retired tram has come to Terang, where it will become a focal point for the area and attract tourists to the region.”
With the official grand opening scheduled for Remembrance Day (Monday, November 11), project manager Les Morgan, RSL vice president Terry Fidge and other RSL members have started work on the tram project.
Mr Bloxham said while the RSL had received a considerable amount of funding support for the project, further support was welcome.
“There is a lot of work to be done before the official opening and to date we have raised over $20,000 with a further $20,000 needed to install a shelter over the Tram construct a disabled ramp and re-paint the outside,” he said.
“There are so many people to thank and with their support, the restoration project has begun.”
For more information on the project or to contribute, contact Steve Bloxham via firstname.lastname@example.org.