Retired tram reinvented as school quiet space

10 May 2024

A retired W Class tram has taken pride of place at St Louis de Montfort school in Aspendale, where it provides a quiet haven for children wanting a break from the hubbub of the playground. 

After being in service since 1955, W6 Class tram 992 was retired around 2014 and went into storage at the Newport workshops. Four years later it was one of 134 trams made available under VicTrack’s Reinventing Trams project. 

The expression of interest campaign to give retired trams new homes in the community caught the eye of Tanya Stefanik, Deputy Principal of Wellbeing at St Louis de Montfort Catholic Primary School. 

“I thought getting a tram for the school would be lovely and to give us an additional space in the school grounds,” Tanya said. 

A lot of kids really love having that space where they can go and just sit out of the play area.

“We wanted it to be a space that could be used by the whole school community, but particularly by the students, as a withdrawal space from the playground, a quiet space where they could get away from the noise and hubbub.” 

Around a year of work followed to arrange permits and install a concrete slab that could hold the tram’s weight. 

The tram was transferred to the school by truck from Newport in March 2020 with some careful maneuvering through Aspendale’s streets. VicTrack also sourced and delivered some tram rails to meet the school’s special request for the tram to sit on rails. 

A team chipped away at restoration works for about 18 months, painting, laying carpet tiles and installing lighting and air conditioning. The refurbished tram has delighted students. 

“A lot of kids really love having that space where they can go and just sit out of the play area,” Tanya said. 

“We’ve got kids who really love trams and trains and mechanics. They get a real thrill out of being able to come in, use the conductor's compartment or ring the bell, which is all functional. 

“The benefit is giving those kids that probably find the playground a little bit too busy a place to come and sit. We’ve got sensory headphones in here and books. 

“It’s a nice, quiet calm space, but also another space that teachers can come and bring a class and utilise it for different activities.” 

The school plans to expand the use of the tram so more members of the school community can enjoy it. A once-a-fortnight café service operates from the tram, selling cakes and hot drinks for parents and carers collecting children from school. Adding a deck to cater for larger groups is also on the horizon. 

About Tram 992

Green W Class tram 992 at a tram stop on route 30 in Melbourne. Blue sky and palm trees are in the background.
Photo by Mal Rowe.

W6 class tram 992 entered service in February 1955, and ran on the then-new East Preston and East Brunswick routes. In the 1980s and 90s it trundled along routes on Collins and Swanston streets.

In 1995 it was one of a group of 55 W class trams upgraded for a longer life as the 'Heritage Fleet'. The upgrade involved the installation of a fibre glass roof – a great asset for its current use at St Louis de Montfort Primary School.

The tram was then put to work on the St Vincent’s Plaza to Docklands shuttle until it was retired around 2014 and stored at the Newport Workshops.