A historic W-Class tram held in storage away from public view for nearly 30 years has been lovingly transformed into a boutique B&B on the edge of the Yarra Valley.
Tram 745, which plied the rails between Melbourne’s CBD and Brunswick and Coburg for 60 years, was launched as a B&B at The Oaks, Lilydale in December 2021, following an 18-month restoration project by proprietors Peter and Kerry Stanton.
Owners of The Oaks, Peter and Kerry Stanton, were among 1,500 applicants for retired trams made available under the Victorian Government’s Retired Trams Strategy. The strategy, launched in 2018, invited expressions of interest for projects that would see trams taken out of storage at Newport and given a new life back in the community.
“Our property is called The Oaks. Our house is 160 years old, and we've built two B&Bs and we were so excited to get the tram to add to the historical nature of the property,” Kerry explained.
“We wanted to get one of the trams because we thought we could turn it into another B&B and have something out of the ordinary out here in the Yarra Valley.”
News that the couple’s application for a retired tram was successful came as a huge but welcome surprise. Just before Christmas 2019 a letter arrived from Minister for Transport Infrastructure, Jacinta Allan.
“Boy, was I blown away,” Kerry recalled. “I rang Peter at work. We were just so excited we were jumping up and down.”
“We even cracked a bottle of champagne, and we don’t even drink,” Peter added. “We were very excited, no worries about that. We knew it was going to come up a million dollars, which it has.”
The tram arrived in early 2020 and an 18-month labour of love began to convert the icon of Melbourne’s public transport into a cosy two-bed B&B.
Peter, a qualified builder and carpenter, was able to complete most of the building work himself, bringing in other skilled tradespeople for plumbing and electrical work to bring his vision for the tram to life.
The first priority was to protect the tram from the weather by covering it with a pergola and painting it. Kerry called on help from a tram museum and Bendigo Tramways to source the exact colour ‘recipe’ for the original W-Class green and gold livery.
Inside the tram, two bedrooms were created, and a kitchenette and bathroom installed. Air conditioning and heating were added to ensure guests’ comfort all year round. Some of the tram’s seating was retained in a lounge area.
“I knew exactly what we wanted,” Peter said. “I visualised it and it’s come up exactly how we wanted it to.”
“We were lucky enough to source bits and pieces (for the project) through the journey.”
Among the finds was a replica tram shelter Peter and Kerry found online. It was added to the project and now sits alongside the tram in a tranquil landscaped garden. Seats removed from the tram have been repurposed as seating in the shelter.
As a final touch, Tram 746 was named Doris to honour Kerry’s late mother.
Doris is now available as a rare accommodation option on the edge of the Yarra Valley and as a quirky backdrop for wedding photos.
The Stantons are looking forward to welcoming guests to share what they have achieved. They held a launch function with 70 people in mid-December 2021 to reveal Doris to the community.
“We're so thrilled with it, especially when you see it through other people's eyes,” Kerry said.
“When people came for the opening, everyone was amazed, and we're just thrilled with how it is. We want to share that with people.”
Find out more about Doris on The Oaks website.
Tram 745’s journey
For 60-odd years, W Class Tram 745 served the people of Melbourne, carrying passengers between the city and Brunswick and Coburg.
It was built at the MMTB workshops in Preston and entered service from Brunswick tram depot on 29 November 1935. The tram remained in service from Brunswick until the
mid-1980s when the newer Z Class trams replaced it.
After being updated with sliding doors in 1984, the tram was relocated to Malvern and later Glenhuntly before being withdrawn from service and sent to storage at Newport in
1994, where it remained until becoming one of the 134 trams made available under the Retired Trams Strategy.
It moved to The Oaks to begin its new life as a B&B in 2020 and was officially opened in December 2021.