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B1481 Tram, full size, electric, C-class, No. 11 (later 57S), timber/metal, Hudson Bros, Sydney (body), Peckham Motor Truck & Wheel Co., Kingston, New York, USA (bogies), 1898.. Click to enlarge.

Electric C-class Sydney tram, 1898

Made by Hudson Bros in New York, New York state, United States, North and Central America, 1898.

The small single truck (bogie) end loading trams, known as the C-class cars, were used on more systems than any other New South Wales Government electric tram. In New South Wales they operated on the main Government Sydney and North Sydney lines, as well as non-electric trailers over the Abermain coal railway, on quarry lines in the Bombo-Minnamurra district and along the Byron Bay jetty tramway. In Victoria they operated on the St Kilda and Ballarat lines.

The C-class were the first electric t...


Object No.


Object Statement

Tram, full size, electric, C-class, No. 11 (later 57S), timber/metal, Hudson Bros, Sydney (body), Peckham Motor Truck & Wheel Co., Kingston, New York, USA (bogies), 1898.

Physical Description

Tram, full size, electric, C-class, No. 11 (later 57S), timber/metal, HudsonBros, Sydney (body), Peckham Motor Truck & Wheel Co., Kingston, New York, USA(bogies), 1898.

The C-class electric tram No.11 is a 22-passenger vehicle built by Hudson Bros of Sydney in 1898 to an American pattern. The bogies were imported from America and built by the Peckham Motor Truck & Wheel Co. of Kingston, New York and patented in 1892. The exterior features a colour scheme of cream with a chocolate brown apron and black bogies. A Department of Railways transfer is attached to each side of the tram as the railways at that time operated the tramways.

The tram features a single saloon passenger area comprising two longitudinal timber benches facing inwards with standing room in the centre aisle. Sliding doors at each end lead to outside platforms where the driver's controls are located. The platforms have no other protection for the driver other than an overhanging canopy and passengers entered and left the car by this means. The trolley poles are side mounted. Varnished timberwork is featured in the interior with a clerestory or lantern roof with sidelights of coloured glass. This gave the tram a festive appearance when operating at night.


Type: Single truck end loading saloon car
Class: C-class
Number in class: 97
Seating: 22 passengers
Number of wheels: 4
Number of side windows: 6
Bogies: Peckham Motor Truck & Wheel Co., Kingston, New York
Engines: 600-volt power supply drove two 36-hp (27 kW ) motors, later replaced by 48 hp (36kW)
Body: Hudson Brothers, Sydney
Weight: 8 tons 8 cwt 1 quarter (8.41 tons)
Length: 23 ft (7.01m)



3700 mm


2220 mm



The design of the Sydney C-class electric trams being an enclosed saloon car with longitudinal seating was similar to cars used in many other Australian and overseas cities at the time. These had proven successful in other places so were adopted in Sydney. However a return to the crossbench style developed for the steam tram trailing cars from 1879 reasserted itself. Following a trial period with the saloon style the crossbench layout, with greater carrying capacity and easy access for quick loading and unloading, quickly re-emerged as the preferred design.

The C-class cars were the first electric trams produced in Sydney in quantity. Between 1896 and 1900 ninety-seven C-class tram bodies were built by two local companies, Bignall & Morrison and Hudson Brothers (later the Clyde Engineering Co.).

In 1896-7 Bignall & Morrison built car Nos 4 to 8 and 289 to 291 (these were trailers 2,1,and 3 respectively).

In 1898 Hudson brothers built car Nos 9 to 17, 29, 33 and 59; in 1899 they built car Nos 19, 22 to 28, 30-32, 34 to 51, 53 to 58, 60 to 66, 76 and 77; and in 1900 they built car Nos 18, 20, 21,52, and 67 to 75.

In 1899 the Clyde Engineering Co. built car Nos 78 to 91, and 94 to 97; and in 1900 they built car Nos 92 and 93.

There were four different body types, usually differentiated by the number of side windows and varying lengths with a passenger seating capacity varying from 20 to 26. Car Nos 4 and possibly 5 had 5 side windows; car Nos 9 to 13 had 6 side windows; car Nos 6 to 8, 14 to 16 and 289 to 291 had 7 side windows; and car Nos 17 to 97 had 9 side windows.

The Museum's C-class electric tram No.11 was built by Hudson Brothers and has the six-side window body style and a capacity for 22 seated passengers. The bogies were imported from America and were manufactured by the Peckham Motor Truck & Wheel Co., Kingston, New York, patented 1892. The body was built by Hudson Bros. Sydney.



The C-class cars were the first electric trams produced in quantity for Sydney. They replaced the steam trams which were eventually banished to the outer suburbs and cable trams which were abandoned altogether. An experimental service first ran from Waverley to Randwick but the first regular electric tram service in Sydney began on 20 September 1893 from Ridge Street, North Sydney to Mosman along Military Road with three experimental trams imported from America. The trams either operated individually or hauled cable tram trailing cars as well.

The C-class trams then served the isolated Rose Bay to Ocean Street, Woollahra line that connected with the cable tram service to King Street in the city. Following this, the C-class trams then provided the bulk of Sydney's first city electric service which opened on 8 December 1899 and operated along George Street from Circular Quay to the railway. Power for these trams was generated in Ultimo power station. This building now serves as the Powerhouse Museum's exhibition area. The nearby tram depot, where the C-class trams were housed, is now the Museum's workshop, offices and conservation laboratories.

During the early years of electric tramway operation the drivers were called "motor men" and conductors were only supposed to collect fares when the tram was running along straight track. At all other times they were to watch the trolley wheel in case it detached from the overhead wire and stopped the tram.

The new, quiet and clean electric trams were enormously popular and demand for larger trams with cross bench seating and a combination of semi-enclosed areas saw the heyday of the small saloon C-class short lived. Almost before the last of this class were built it was eclipsed by the larger bogie cars from 1900. The C-class mainly continued to operate on the North Sydney lines until about 1926 after which they were withdrawn from passenger service. They subsequently played a secondary role on the tramway network in various converted forms undertaking a variety of functions. In 1915 car Nos 31 and 44 were converted to ambulance trams to carry injured World War I soldiers, who had arrived from overseas by ship, from Woolloomooloo Wharf to Central Railway Station and Randwick Hospital. They were again used in 1919 during the influenza epidemic. Many other C-class trams were converted for use as breakdown vehicles and were a familiar sight in Sydney until 1960.

The Museum's C-class tram was originally designated No. 11 and went into service on 29 August 1898. It first operated on the Rose Bay to Ocean Street route and later was involved in track brake trials between Rose Bay and King Street. The tram was later fitted with track brakes and worked as service car No. 11S at the North Sydney depot being stabled on a short siding between the depot and administration buildings on the corner of Ridge and Miller Streets. The "S" indicating it was a service vehicle and no longer carried passengers. It was later renumbered 57S. The tram was restored in 1961 at the Randwick Tramway Workshops of the New South Wales Department of Government Transport under the direction of the Superintendent, Mr J. Hastie, and presented to the Museum.

The tram was owned by the New South Wales Government Railways. The vehicle was restored by the Workshops of the Department of Government Transport in 1961.


Credit Line

Gift of New South Wales Department of Government Transport, 1961

Acquisition Date

7 March 1962

Cite this Object


Electric C-class Sydney tram, 1898 2018, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 20 May 2019, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Electric C-class Sydney tram, 1898 |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=20 May 2019 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}
This object is currently on display in Transport at the Powerhouse Museum.


This object record is currently incomplete. Other information may exist in a non-digital form. The Museum continues to update and add new research to collection records.

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