New life for old tram

School’s back for over a million students across Victoria. And one tram.

W-Class tram 868 has come out of retirement

W-Class tram 868 was one of 120 SW6 trams built by the former Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board between 1939 and 1951. 

Introduced to service in May 1941, it was retired in the 1980s and stored at the Newport Railway Workshops with almost 240 trams in various states of disrepair.

Now, after more than 30 years in mothballs, 868 has come out of retirement to start a new life as a recording studio and internet radio station at Alice Miller School in Macedon.

The school, which opened in 2016, procured 868 under the government’s Retired Trams Strategy, which invited schools, community groups, not-for-profit organisations and other public institutions to explain how they would restore, repurpose and maintain one of the available 134 trams, preserving them for future generations.

Alice Miller’s English Coordinator Stuart Orr said the school had grown more rapidly than anticipated – from 80 students in 2016 to 250 students this year. 

“We have two music practice rooms, but these are needed regularly throughout the day, so to have a space dedicated to recording music and keeping that equipment there would require a new room,” he said. 

“We could build one, but when the opportunity to house it in a distinguishing landmark came along, we had to try.

“The content broadcast by our station TRAM (The Real Alice Miller) will be entirely created by the students: music, poetry, essays, speeches, short fiction, serialised fiction, radio plays, as well as interviews with artists and other members of the local community.”

- Andrew Bartram