Ever wondered why the West Coburg tram terminates at Melville Road and Bell Street intersection? This article in the Argus in 1944 explains that housing commission building needed to be kept within half a mile of the terminus, or the tram line should be extended up Turner and Derby streets.
Since the war there has been substantial housing development north of Bell street and we think it’s about bloody time the tram route 58 was extended to Hadfield to serve more people and increase public transport patronage and reduce transport emissions for people in Moreland’s northern suburbs.
According to Councillor Sue Bolton original tram route plans were to extend the tram line as far as Boundary Road in Hadfield.
Turner street and Derby Road were specifically widened by Coburg Council to provide room for the tram. It’s about time the State Government stepped up and extended this tram route.
NO EXTENSION OF WEST COBURG TRAM
Extension of the West Coburg tramline was not even contemplated, let alone in progress, Mr H. H. Bell, chairman of the Tramways Board, said yesterday, replying to a correspondent of THE ARGUS.
In January the board informed the utility services advisory selection committee of the Housing Commission, in connection with area five, north-west Coburg, that no extension of the West Coburg tram route which now terminates at the intersection of Melville and Bell streets would be necessary if the order of priority in building was kept in the vicinity of that terminus to within half a mile along Turner and Derby streets.
Should the main building operations extend beyond half a mile, however, an extension of the tramway along Turner and Derby sts as far as Essex st would be possible, provided Coburg Council made the necessary roads.
As in the case of West Preston such extensions could only be operated at a loss for a considerable time, and for that reason, Mr Bell said, he thought they should be constructed under municipal guarantee provisions of the Tramways Act, by which losses would be guaranteed by the council concerned for the first five years of operation. Coburg Council had been told this in 1939, also that even if it agreed to guarantee losses the extension could not be proceeded with till after the war.
The Argus, Thursday 21 September 1944 Page 3
Here is how the Melbourne Tram museum describes the terminus and provision for extension further north of Bell street:
North of Bell Street, it appears that Turner Street was only developed after tramway construction ceased in 1927. According to a long time resident, a reserved strip of land remained along the centre of Turner Street until the late 1950s/early 1960s – perhaps in the hope of a future tramway extension.
The southwest corner of Bell Street and Melville Road was a vacant block of land with a standard T intersection until the late 1950s. Children played on this grassed block while parents shopped. In the late 1950s, the land was developed with the curved roadway and shops as they are today.