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Long before rideshare services and even buses, trams rattled through Brisbane suburbs as the preferred way to travel across the city.
In celebration of the ageless charm of the tram, I think I may have found the coolest, funkiest, most unexpected well, restroom to visit in Brisbane. The newly rejuvenated Everton Plaza Shopping Centre at Everton Park (with its laneway cafes and restaurants) has gone to the trouble of relocating and repurposing a former tram to find a new life as the Centre's restrooms.
Trams in Stafford Trams have long held a special place in the transport heritage of Brisbane and in particular this suburb. The Brisbane tramway network transported the citizens of Brisbane between 1885 and 1969.
In 1940, a branch tramline from Lutwyche Road was opened to a terminus in Stafford Road near Clifford Street. The number 37 tram ran along Stafford road, where Everton Plaza is now situated. A shopping centre rapidly grew around the tram terminus during the early 1950s, with a baker, butcher, shoe repairer, fuel merchant, newsagent and several mixed businesses.
Photo courtesy Flickr
The Paddington tram depot fire saw sixty-five trams (or one fifth of the Brisbane Tramways Company's tram fleet) completely destroyed and marked the end of trams in Brisbane and the beginning bus routes.
The Everton Plaza Tram Today While no longer in operation, the design team at Everton Plaza took the bold and unprecedented move to transport the carriage back to the place trams rumbled along the Stafford Road tracks. With its grand size and weight, the tram needed to be brought in by crane and gently manouvered into its current resting place.
The sign on the front of the tram has been changed to reflect its new home - its destination as Park Lane. Many of the original design features, such as the hand cut lead light windows and wooden doors to the driver's compartment remain untouched. Even the original hat and coat hook for the driver and the conductor is still on the wall in the driver's carriage To get the driver's attention to stop, the bell was located via a slender string cord above the seats. But beware of mischief-makers.
Passenger signage, instructions and penalties reflect the era where jumped on and off the tram from the wrong side would incur a $10 fine. You can also see the number of this particular tram on the side panel– the number 637.
While the exterior of the tram is unchanged, the interior has been modernised to create a dual occupancy, crisp, white subway tiled, fully operational restroom. To find the women's, turn to the right of the front door and for the men's, take a left turn where the carriage seats once were.
The faux grass outside, ramps and stairs lead to the inside and the covered walkway gives the sense of the walking up to a covered tramstop.
The front lights of the tram still flicker, beconning visitors to stop by and help us to imagine what it must have been like to see them rumbling down the street.
About Everton Plaza
The installation of the tram is part of the renovation of Everton Plaza, which has refurbished and revitalised the retail rear space between the north and south shopping centre buildings to create a 'Park Lane'. The redesign of the thoroughfare creates a vibrant and pedestrian friendly connection from the shopping centre.
Finding the Park Lane tram is an experience in itself. There is something romantic about seeing the tram and reflecting on a simpler but also complex post-war time era in Brisbane.
Part of the fun is curling through the laneways to spot it. So reminisce a time when trams were part of our urban lives the next time you visit Everton Plaza.
Everton Park is 8 kms from the Brisbane Central Business District.