Let's go Shopping

"They used to think we were Mandrake; make you
get the pushers on, they were pretty heavy and they'd do it in the peak hour. Five to
five, five past five, quarter past five to Sebas, they were pretty hectic trams, always
packed. You'd see them waiting for your tram to come, and they'd yap, yap, yap, they'd be
there when you went for your meal and they'd still be there when you came with a busy
tram. They'd want to put the pusher on and I said: I'm sorry, you can't put the pusher
on'. They'd say 'Mr Jones said I could'. I'd say 'Mr Jones isn't connying, I am, and you
can't put the pusher on. Why didn't you take an earlier tram?' She said 'I hope you have
half a dozen kids of your own'. It was always the same ones who wanted to put their
pushers on in the peak period – and they were peak periods in those days, they'd be
hanging on the steps".

Related by Ballarat Tramway conductress,
Jean Maxwell, about the problems during and just after the end of the Second World War.

Conductresses during the War

In the period between June 1942 and August
1946, the State Electricity Commission of Victoria, the operators of the Provincial city
tramways in Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong employed women for the first and only time as
conductresses. Driving remained an all-male operation however. Their employment was
brought about by the shortage of men away overseas serving in the military forces. Women
were employed on the basis that their husbands were trammies and had joined up.  
Unusually for the times, these women were paid the same wage as the men.

The period of the Second World War was the
busiest for Ballarat Tramways, even showing a profit in 1943. With petrol rationing and a
large USA army base in Ballarat, the traffic on the tramcars was very heavy.

Peak Hours

The city terminus, at the intersection of
Sturt and Lydiard Streets was a popular place to meet and talk on a nice day, with plenty
of seats provided on the grassed median strip. BTM PRAM & 38.GIF (13692 bytes)Waiting for the tramcar could well
be incidental in catching up on the gossip.

During peak hours, pushers or prams were
not permitted to be carried on the trams in Ballarat as they took up valuable floor space.
Some conductors would however allow them to be carried. The loading and unloading required
someone to assist to lift or lower the pusher if carrying a child or heavy shopping.

A conductor helps to lift a pram

onto an already crowded

Sebastopol tramcar. The Courier

Ballarat Photo 19 Oct. 1963.

BTM CITY & 22.GIF (26477 bytes)Although it is not evening peak
hour, a large group of people boards tramcars at the City terminal in the post war period.
The Town Hall clock shows a few minutes to twelve. The trams had a lunch hour rush, with a
number of people going home for lunch and then returning to work.

Photo: State Electricity Commission of
Victoria, late 1940's.