Bendigo heralds depot visitor facilities.

Ex-Melbourne car 808 of 1937 makes the rounds in Bendigo in this 2007 photo. The SW5 class tram is painted in the corporate livery of hardware merchants Humme & Iser. Photo by flickr user yewenyi (Brian Yap) and used via Creative Commons license. Click image to view his photostream.

One of the world’s longest-serving and most successful heritage tramway operations this week feted the capstone project of a major depot renovation scheme.

According to this Bendigo Advertiser report, Bendigo Tramways on Tuesday held a celebration to mark the completion of its new shop and visitor reception facilities, culmination of 18 months of work and (AUD) $3.1 million renovations to the historic 1903 depot site. Renovations were funded by a federal, state and local government combined grant, the newspaper reported.

Regular electric passenger services in Bendigo operated from April 1903 until April 1972. Even as the system was winding down its life as a public transport operator, members of the community sounded the alarm over the loss of so much local heritage, notably a fleet of vintage trams that included rare left-hand Australian Birney cars. Heritage operations commenced in December 1972, and, according to this interesting history provided by Bendigo Tramways, “after more than 3 decades of operation the Bendigo Vintage ‘Talking’ Trams are fast approaching the two millionth passenger mark, solid proof of the universal interest in trams and the worth of this type of historic preservation.”

For more on the heritage line, including roster and depot facilities, visit its website.

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