Valley Heights Steam Tramway
Steam Tram Trailer Cars No 93B and 72B
B-CLASS STEAM TRAM TRAILER CARS
The Valley Heights Steam Tramway (VHST) has two B-class steam tram trailer cars. Both cars came from a demolished residential building. Car 93B is currently nearing the end of a thorough re-build and restoration programme, whilst its sister, 72B, is waiting its turn for similar attention.
Tramcar 93B was built by Hudson Brothers at Clyde in October 1889, whilst 72B was built by Henry Vale in January 1891. Records indicate that 93B was listed in the Sydney area from 1903-1913 where it was thought to have been used as a trailer for electric trams. The car was listed as being allocated to the Rockdale to Brighton-le-Sands tramway from 1914-1919, again as an electric trailer. Tramcar 72B was recorded as being one of the four cars used to open the Arncliffe to Bexley steam tramway.
From records, as at 30th June each year the following was noted:
- 1920-both cars at Baulkham Hills.
- 1921-Both cars at Baulkham Hills.
- 1923-72B at Arncliffe and 93B at Baulkham Hills.
- 1924 to 1926-both cars at Arncliffe and fitted with electric lighting.
- 1927-both cars held at Arncliffe after closure of Arncliffe tramway on 31/12/1926.
- 1928-both cars listed in store at Randwick.
Both cars were sold in April 1932, to Corbetta King and Evelyn King (presumably sisters) who transferred the cars to their land at no. 3 Hillcrest Road, Berowra. It was here that the two cars were later incorporated into a dwelling. The two cars were set apart and were enclosed within an overall structure. Car 93B was on the western side and essentially contained the sleeping quarters, whilst 72B became areas for dining, kitchen, laundry, bath and toilet facilities.
The property was eventually sold twice, coming into the ownership of William and May Ward during 1954. Eventually, as a widow, the property passed from May Ward's estate to Kerrie Booth during 1997.
The society was aware of the presence of this interesting item of real estate since the society's inception. Indeed the property was featured in a newspaper article in the early 1950's. Subsequently VHST's David Lewis made contact with May by letter asking if a small group may inspect the tramcars. She agreed. David, with Frank and Leila Moag, visited in 1994. May at that time was an 80-year-old widow. May was cautious and stressed she did not want to become a tourist attraction as she had been burgled twice before. The society respected these wishes and kept the houses whereabouts to only a few of us.
David continued to visit May quite regularly. Over the next twelve months they became quite friendly. David, on behalf of VHST, was always open as to what our interest in the house was, but no pressure was ever brought to bear on May. She recognised why we were so interested in her house and used to say that if she ever won the lottery she would build a new house and that we could have the trams the next day! David used to bring May a lottery ticket every time he visited.
May passed away and David saw her death notice in the paper. David followed the sale of the house over the next 10 or so months culminating in the property being auctioned in October 1996. After negotiating with the new owner a price and conditions for the demolition of the house and removing the trams was agreed upon. Once the block was cleared by the society the tramcars were moved from their resting place of 65 years on the 10th March 1997. The two tramcars arrived at Valley Heights later in the day, having passed through the old operating site in Parramatta Park to retrieve spare bogies.
The society commenced restoration on 93B immediately as it was assessed that the body was in better condition than that of its sister. Car 72B had succumbed to the ravages of time due to being more exposed to the prevailing elements and moisture penetration from the use of it as kitchen, bath, laundry and toilet. The bogies, badly damaged in the Parramatta Park fire of 1993, are being rebuilt and replacement braking gear is also being progressively assembled. The vacuum braking system needed substantial manufacture of the brake pans and other attachments.