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Old December 18th, 2005, 03:03 AM   #1
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HONG KONG | Double-Decker trams

HISTORY from Hongkong Tramways

Since 1904, trams have been running from East to West of Hong Kong Island. Over the last century, Hongkong Tramways witnessed the development of Hong Kong, and the tram remains an efficient and the most economical mode of public transport in Hong Kong. Today, Hongkong Tramways owns and operates a fleet of 163 tramcars, including 2 antique tramcars, carrying a daily average of 240,000 passengers. It is the world's largest fleet of double-deck tramcars still in service.



1903 - The construction of a single-track system began and it ran from Kennedy Town to Causeway Bay. The route was later extended to Shau Kei Wan.

1904 - Bodies of the first fleet of 26 tramcars were built in the U.K. They were then shipped in pieces to and assembled in Hong Kong. The tramcars were all single-deck, of which 10 tramcars were designed for first class passengers and the others were for third class passengers. The first class compartment was enclosed in the center with two long benches on both sides and both the front and back ends were open. Seating capacity was 32 passengers. The third class tramcars were open-sided with six sets of benches running crossways, back to back, seating 48 passengers.

Tram fares for the first and the third class were 10 cents and 5 cents respectively. Initially, the company planned to divide the trams into 3 classes, but subsequently only the first and the third class were chosen for ease of operation.



A first-generation tram with single-deck design on Des Voeux Road Central. Alexandra House is on the left. (c. 1906)

1912 - Owing to strong passenger demand, the first double-deck tramcar was introduced in 1912. The tramcar was open-top with garden seats design. The first class occupied the upper deck and one-third of the lower deck. Ten new tramcars were constructed.


A double-deck tram with open-top (the second generation) at Queensway, near today's Chater Garden (c. 1912)


Trams of the first- and third-generation running at the same time near Des Voeux Road. (c.1920s)


The fourth-generation tram - enclosed upper deck design. Picture was taken near today's Western Market. (c.1930s)


The first advertisement on a third-generation tramcar. (c.1930s)

1941 - Japanese occupation took place. Very limited tram service was provided. Only 12 tramcars were in operation daily from Causeway Bay to Western Market.

1945 - After three years and eight months of Japanese Occupation, all 109 tramcars still remained, but only 15 were operational. By October 1945, 40 tramcars were back in service.

1949 - Single-track system was substituted by double track system in August 1949.


1950 - Hongkong Tramways had undertaken extensive re-designing and started building its own trams. Tram bodies adopted a "modern" design.


A tram on Des Voeux Road Central, near Western Market (c. 1950s)


Single-deck Trailer was introduced. (c.1960s)

1965 - Due to passenger demand, single deck trailer was introduced. The trailer was attached to the back of ordinary tramcar and designed to serve first class passengers only. The maximum capacity was 36 persons for each trailer.

1966 - As trailers were well accepted by passengers, 22 single deck trailers were deployed in the fleet during 1966 - 67. Although trailers played a significant role in the tramways, they were finally withdrawn from the service in 1980s.


A tram in Causeway Bay (c.1970s)

1976 - Drop-in coin-boxes were installed at the trams. For each tram, a coin-box was fitted near the driver at the front exit. Passengers are required to drop in the exact fare on leaving the tram. Rotating turnstiles were fitted at the entrance which was located at the rear of a tram. Conductors were no longer needed and most of them were trained to become motormen.


The drop-in coin-box and rotating turnstiles are still being used today


Tram's cabin was re-designed with a new look. Antique tram no. 28 at night (1986)


The red antique tram no. 128 on Des Voeux Road Central, near Bank of China Tower (1987)


Trams with fully painted advertisements running near Victoria Park (1990s)


1992 - Two double-deck trams made by Hongkong Tramways were exported to Birkenhead in the U.K.
Point Automation System deployed and pointsman system for altering the direction of tram manually was abolished.

Two double-deck trams were exported to the U.K. (1992)


A new refurnished shelter on Pennington Street, Causeway Bay (1990s)

2000 - Hongkong Tramways launched the "Millennium" new tram on October 24, 2000 which was designed and manufactured by its own engineering team. The success of this tramcar marked an important milestone in the history of Hongkong Tramways and this kind of tram was categorized as the fifth-generation of tramcar.

The "Millennium" new tram launched in 2000

2004 - Hongkong Tramways celebrates 100 years of service.

For more info - http://www.hktramways.com/en/museum/index.html

2005:







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Old December 18th, 2005, 06:42 AM   #2
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Nice history, I heard that they only made 4 of those AC-trams. Are there any more in the making for the future or are they just going to use the current one?
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Old December 18th, 2005, 07:29 AM   #3
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Sleek tram fleet plan.
11 January 1998
South China Morning Post

CENTURY-OLD trams could be replaced by a sleek, modern fleet similar to the Light Rail Transit system's.

Hongkong Tramways is considering conducting a feasibility study on the new vehicles as legislators say the $24 million rewiring work now under way on its 160-strong fleet is not enough to improve safety.

The work includes the installation of "dead man's handles" which automatically engage the brakes if a driver leaves the controls. They were recommended after a motorman was killed leaping from his blazing tram in 1996. The burning vehicle continued rolling with passengers on board.

Provisional legislature transport panel member Law Cheung-kwok said the rewiring work was not enough to upgrade the fleet, which has suffered a spate of fires.

"This current work is just providing a minor face-lift so I think they should have a serious look at these new vehicles which may be much like the LRT," he said.

Assistant Transport Commissioner (Urban) Ching Kam-cheung said owing to their historic attraction to tourists, a compromise was needed to keep the trams' antique looks while improving safety and comfort levels.

Another panel member, Dr Raymond Ho Chung-tai, agreed but said commuters should be given priority over tourists.

"The tram system is a vital east-west Hong Kong Island transport link which is heavily utilised and must progress," he said. "Some of the older trams can be kept for tourists, but commuters cannot use the same system forever."

Tramways general manager Frankie Yick Chi-ming said rewiring work and the installation of handles would be completed in about two years, during which time he hoped to carry out the study.
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Old December 18th, 2005, 07:32 AM   #4
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Hearts on the line
One hundred years ago tomorrow, a Mrs Jones drove the first tram to Admiralty.
As Sherry Lee explains, the city has had a thing for the rattlers ever since

29 July 2004
South China Morning Post

OLD HABITS die hard. Whenever 78-year-old Lam Kam-ling leaves his North Point home for other parts of Hong Kong Island, he travels exclusively by tram. He's long used to the hard, wooden seats and the breeze rushing in through open windows. Not for him those modern air-conditioned buses or speedy taxis.

He has plenty of time to reminisce as the old conveyance rattles methodically along its steel tracks. Lam spent his early working life selling tickets to passengers and, briefly, driving them. Having started work with Hongkong Tramways (HKT) in 1947, he is one of the company's oldest former employees in Hong Kong.

"I met a lot of good friends working on the trams and we still met every year for a meal," he says. "When I now take the tram, I sit there and recall the often difficult times, but also the good times. Did you know, once an old passenger even recognised me."

Tomorrow, HKT is 100 years old. To celebrate the event, the company has been running a series of commemorative programmes in recent months, including the issue of special stamps and souvenir ticket sets, art and photo competitions, free tram rides for tourists and charities, and the launch of six specially painted centenary tramcars. On Saturday, the company will host a Centenary Party at Times Square to which government officials and legislators have been invited.

But HKT seemed unlikely to make its 90th anniversary. Before the opening of the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) Island Line in 1985, the government conducted a study to determine whether the old mode of transport was still worthwhile. The public, researchers found, was keen that the cheap and airy trams should continue, and even today, with competition from the MTR and an ever-increasing fleet of buses, mini-buses and taxis, the company turns a profit of about $10 million a year.

HKT director and general manager Frankie Yick Chi-ming says the trams owe their survival to their anachronistic look. The executive for Wharf Group, which owns the company, says in 1998 HKT asked passengers about the possible introduction of air-conditioning. And two years later, the company asked whether passengers wanted more of the new "Millennium" carriage. On both occasions, passengers said they liked their trams just the way they had always been.

"People like the old trams for the breeze and their age," Yick says. "We are an icon, part of Hong Kong's heritage. Trams are part of our lives that we have grown up with."

The 163 trams that make up the largest double-decker fleet in the world stay on the rails because they are also economical to run. And at $2 a trip - half that for children and the elderly - it's the cheapest form of transport in Hong Kong. "It offers something of a community service for the local poor," Yick says. The trams are also a quaint, environmentally friendly tourist attraction, he says. "In many places, such as Britain and Japan, governments have started to revive electric trams for environmental reasons," Yick says.

The idea of building an electric tramway on Hong Kong Island was first proposed by legislator Ng Ting-fong in 1881, but no one wanted to invest in the system. The proposal was finally accepted by the British government in 1901 and, in 1902, the Hong Kong Tramway Electric Company was formed in Britain to build the line. In the same year, the company was taken over by Electric Traction Company (later renamed HKT), which laid track during 1903.

At 10am on July 30, 1904, "Mrs Jones", the wife of the director of public works, drove the first yellow and chocolate-painted tramcar to leave Causeway Bay's Russell Street depot for Admiralty. Her son rang the tram bell along the way.

At first, there were 26 tramcars, all single-deck, with 10 reserved for first-class passengers. The main route followed the northern waterfront of Hong Kong Island from Causeway Bay to Kennedy Town, with a branch serving Happy Valley. The main line was later extended westwards to Shau Kei Wan.

During the second world war, the Japanese took over the tram company, using the vehicles to ship soldiers and goods. Many drivers and workers fled to the mainland. After the war, in 1947, hundreds of people lined up outside the Russell Street depot for work. Among them was Lam, who had a letter of introduction from a relative who was an HKT employee - a necessity when applying for a job at the time.

"It was difficult to get work," he says. "I went for the interview and all the interviewers were western men. One looked at me from head to foot {hellip} at my face, my clothes." Lam says he was rejected, but returned a few days later with a reference letter written for another man, named Wong. He got the job, and instantly became "Mr Wong" at work.

He would rise every day at 3am to start work at 4am. At night, like many of Hong Kong's poor, he slept in a stairwell.

At first, Lam was a gate opener. "There were lots of passengers, and we were like sardines, squeezing together," he says. "We weren't allowed to let coolies in, and they'd use their sticks to hit us. Sometimes, I would let hawkers in, but when the inspector spotted them, they would throw their goods out of the windows."

After a year, Lam worked as a conductor and had to make sure passengers paid. "I had to sell tickets to them as soon as possible, or the inspector would report us," he says. "Then we would be called to see a western officer, who would punish us by stopping us from working for a day. We had no wage if we didn't work."

Two years later, Lam made it to driver. But he didn't last long in the cab. "The wheel was so heavy that drivers always got chest and stomach problems," he says. "I was also scared of driving and knocking someone over, even though at the time, if people were knocked down and killed by trams, no one could sue, because the tram company would say the rails were a private road."

Lam returned to selling tickets until the turbulent late 1960s.

Lam was a member of the Tramway Workers' Union, which initially gave rice to sick workers. "They didn't charge union fees - we'd give a handful of rice to the union as a fee instead," Lam says. Eventually, through monetary fees, the union funded schooling for members and other benefits.

Through the union, Lam was involved in four strikes. In 1949, life was hard for many workers on a low wage. The veteran motorman, who then earned $26 a week, says their demands for a pay increase were rejected. "We weren't allowed to strike, so we let people get on the trams free for three days," Lam says. "All the passengers were happy that they didn't need to pay and thanked us so much." The workers ended up with an extra dollar a week.

In 1967, a strike by plastics workers developed into a confrontation with police, which in turn led to protests and riots throughout Hong Kong. Most of the 1,600 tram workers were involved in the strike, and like many others, Lam, a father of five, lost his job. Until his retirement, in 1996, he worked as a private chauffeur.

Despite the circumstances in which his professional association with HKT ended, Lam says he'll be raising a glass to the company's centenary tomorrow. "I have so many memories. I'll always have an emotional tie with the tramways."

Surveyor Allen Cheung Shun-kwong, 50, says he no longer takes Hong Kong's trams for granted. "One day I got a photo of the earliest model tram and wanted to know more about it," he says. So, Cheung looked around for more tram memorabilia, and was hooked. Since 1988, he has collected more than 200 postcards and photos of trams and street scenes, models, old tram tickets and even superintendents' reports. A decade later, Cheung published his collection in a book, Hong Kong Trams (Joint Publishing), and now plans to put them on show.

To commemorate tomorrow's centenary, he is exhibiting his collection for the first time, from August 9 to 11 at Western Market, in Sheung Wan.

"No one pays attention to trams and [they] think that it's just a mode of transport," he says.

"But if trams were lost, I'd feel I'd lost an old friend. From the windows of the trams, Hong Kong people's lives have passed by. People have been able to see the city change from a poor place to a rich place.
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Old December 18th, 2005, 03:15 PM   #5
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Wow preety interesting
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Old December 18th, 2005, 03:18 PM   #6
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Hong Kong is unique for being the only city with a double decker trams system! Too bad though they only run in Hong Kong Island!

By the way, I remember when I was a kid, I always see the tram depot in Causeway Bay! The tram depot is now where Times Square is at!
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Old December 18th, 2005, 07:51 PM   #7
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Hong Kong is not the only city with double deck trams. Blackpool also has them.
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Old December 18th, 2005, 08:15 PM   #8
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Old December 18th, 2005, 08:16 PM   #9
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Old December 19th, 2005, 04:00 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hkskyline
Hong Kong is not the only city with double deck trams. Blackpool also has them.
Liverpool has a very small stretch of tramline in Birkenhead. It has double-deckers. But, it's basically just a working museum, sadly.



Liverpool once had an extensive tram network, but it was ripped out as it was deemed that cars were the future. A poop decision in my opinion.
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Old December 19th, 2005, 04:47 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth
Liverpool has a very small stretch of tramline in Birkenhead. It has double-deckers. But, it's basically just a working museum, sadly.



Liverpool once had an extensive tram network, but it was ripped out as it was deemed that cars were the future. A poop decision in my opinion.
that tram originally came from HK
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Old December 19th, 2005, 08:36 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hkskyline
Hong Kong is not the only city with double deck trams. Blackpool also has them.
But HK is the ONLY city still serving the double deck trams to the public!
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Old December 19th, 2005, 04:33 PM   #13
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The Blackpool double deckers are still running!
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Old December 19th, 2005, 04:39 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aznichiro115
that tram originally came from HK
Yes, we had them shipped out in about 1996.
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Old December 20th, 2005, 02:54 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sfgadv02
Nice history, I heard that they only made 4 of those AC-trams. Are there any more in the making for the future or are they just going to use the current one?
Not sure about that, but one day when the west island mtr line opens, trams are no longer a need...
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Old December 20th, 2005, 05:18 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sher
Not sure about that, but one day when the west island mtr line opens, trams are no longer a need...
But most people would still want to pay $2 for a cheap and fast ride.
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Old December 20th, 2005, 08:58 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sher
Not sure about that, but one day when the west island mtr line opens, trams are no longer a need...
I'm surely these trams WON'T disappear even the MTR West Island Line opens! As this is one of HK's special culture heritage! There was a survey around MTR Island Line (1985) opens. At that time, 60% of the interviewers supported to remain the tram service. I think it would even more people support to remain now!
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Old December 20th, 2005, 10:48 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hkth
I'm surely these trams WON'T disappear even the MTR West Island Line opens! As this is one of HK's special culture heritage! There was a survey around MTR Island Line (1985) opens. At that time, 60% of the interviewers supported to remain the tram service. I think it would even more people support to remain now!
Yup.......I don't think these trams will be phased out at anytime in that more and more HK ppl treaure their local culture and heritage
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Old December 24th, 2005, 06:54 PM   #19
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Source : http://www.pbase.com/lamkiuwai/20040707











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Old December 24th, 2005, 07:03 PM   #20
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Hearts on the line
One hundred years ago tomorrow, a Mrs Jones drove the first tram to Admiralty
And as Sherry Lee explains, the city has had a thing for the rattlers ever since

29 July 2004
South China Morning Post

OLD HABITS die hard. Whenever 78-year-old Lam Kam-ling leaves his North Point home for other parts of Hong Kong Island, he travels exclusively by tram. He's long used to the hard, wooden seats and the breeze rushing in through open windows. Not for him those modern air-conditioned buses or speedy taxis.

He has plenty of time to reminisce as the old conveyance rattles methodically along its steel tracks. Lam spent his early working life selling tickets to passengers and, briefly, driving them. Having started work with Hongkong Tramways (HKT) in 1947, he is one of the company's oldest former employees in Hong Kong.

"I met a lot of good friends working on the trams and we still met every year for a meal," he says. "When I now take the tram, I sit there and recall the often difficult times, but also the good times. Did you know, once an old passenger even recognised me."

Tomorrow, HKT is 100 years old. To celebrate the event, the company has been running a series of commemorative programmes in recent months, including the issue of special stamps and souvenir ticket sets, art and photo competitions, free tram rides for tourists and charities, and the launch of six specially painted centenary tramcars. On Saturday, the company will host a Centenary Party at Times Square to which government officials and legislators have been invited.

But HKT seemed unlikely to make its 90th anniversary. Before the opening of the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) Island Line in 1985, the government conducted a study to determine whether the old mode of transport was still worthwhile. The public, researchers found, was keen that the cheap and airy trams should continue, and even today, with competition from the MTR and an ever-increasing fleet of buses, mini-buses and taxis, the company turns a profit of about $10 million a year.

HKT director and general manager Frankie Yick Chi-ming says the trams owe their survival to their anachronistic look. The executive for Wharf Group, which owns the company, says in 1998 HKT asked passengers about the possible introduction of air-conditioning. And two years later, the company asked whether passengers wanted more of the new "Millennium" carriage. On both occasions, passengers said they liked their trams just the way they had always been.

"People like the old trams for the breeze and their age," Yick says. "We are an icon, part of Hong Kong's heritage. Trams are part of our lives that we have grown up with."

The 163 trams that make up the largest double-decker fleet in the world stay on the rails because they are also economical to run. And at $2 a trip - half that for children and the elderly - it's the cheapest form of transport in Hong Kong. "It offers something of a community service for the local poor," Yick says. The trams are also a quaint, environmentally friendly tourist attraction, he says. "In many places, such as Britain and Japan, governments have started to revive electric trams for environmental reasons," Yick says.

The idea of building an electric tramway on Hong Kong Island was first proposed by legislator Ng Ting-fong in 1881, but no one wanted to invest in the system. The proposal was finally accepted by the British government in 1901 and, in 1902, the Hong Kong Tramway Electric Company was formed in Britain to build the line. In the same year, the company was taken over by Electric Traction Company (later renamed HKT), which laid track during 1903.

At 10am on July 30, 1904, "Mrs Jones", the wife of the director of public works, drove the first yellow and chocolate-painted tramcar to leave Causeway Bay's Russell Street depot for Admiralty. Her son rang the tram bell along the way.

At first, there were 26 tramcars, all single-deck, with 10 reserved for first-class passengers. The main route followed the northern waterfront of Hong Kong Island from Causeway Bay to Kennedy Town, with a branch serving Happy Valley. The main line was later extended westwards to Shau Kei Wan.

During the second world war, the Japanese took over the tram company, using the vehicles to ship soldiers and goods. Many drivers and workers fled to the mainland. After the war, in 1947, hundreds of people lined up outside the Russell Street depot for work. Among them was Lam, who had a letter of introduction from a relative who was an HKT employee - a necessity when applying for a job at the time.

"It was difficult to get work," he says. "I went for the interview and all the interviewers were western men. One looked at me from head to foot {hellip} at my face, my clothes." Lam says he was rejected, but returned a few days later with a reference letter written for another man, named Wong. He got the job, and instantly became "Mr Wong" at work.

He would rise every day at 3am to start work at 4am. At night, like many of Hong Kong's poor, he slept in a stairwell.

At first, Lam was a gate opener. "There were lots of passengers, and we were like sardines, squeezing together," he says. "We weren't allowed to let coolies in, and they'd use their sticks to hit us. Sometimes, I would let hawkers in, but when the inspector spotted them, they would throw their goods out of the windows."

After a year, Lam worked as a conductor and had to make sure passengers paid. "I had to sell tickets to them as soon as possible, or the inspector would report us," he says. "Then we would be called to see a western officer, who would punish us by stopping us from working for a day. We had no wage if we didn't work."

Two years later, Lam made it to driver. But he didn't last long in the cab. "The wheel was so heavy that drivers always got chest and stomach problems," he says. "I was also scared of driving and knocking someone over, even though at the time, if people were knocked down and killed by trams, no one could sue, because the tram company would say the rails were a private road."

Lam returned to selling tickets until the turbulent late 1960s.

Lam was a member of the Tramway Workers' Union, which initially gave rice to sick workers. "They didn't charge union fees - we'd give a handful of rice to the union as a fee instead," Lam says. Eventually, through monetary fees, the union funded schooling for members and other benefits.

Through the union, Lam was involved in four strikes. In 1949, life was hard for many workers on a low wage. The veteran motorman, who then earned $26 a week, says their demands for a pay increase were rejected. "We weren't allowed to strike, so we let people get on the trams free for three days," Lam says. "All the passengers were happy that they didn't need to pay and thanked us so much." The workers ended up with an extra dollar a week.

In 1967, a strike by plastics workers developed into a confrontation with police, which in turn led to protests and riots throughout Hong Kong. Most of the 1,600 tram workers were involved in the strike, and like many others, Lam, a father of five, lost his job. Until his retirement, in 1996, he worked as a private chauffeur.

Despite the circumstances in which his professional association with HKT ended, Lam says he'll be raising a glass to the company's centenary tomorrow. "I have so many memories. I'll always have an emotional tie with the tramways."

Surveyor Allen Cheung Shun-kwong, 50, says he no longer takes Hong Kong's trams for granted. "One day I got a photo of the earliest model tram and wanted to know more about it," he says. So, Cheung looked around for more tram memorabilia, and was hooked. Since 1988, he has collected more than 200 postcards and photos of trams and street scenes, models, old tram tickets and even superintendents' reports. A decade later, Cheung published his collection in a book, Hong Kong Trams (Joint Publishing), and now plans to put them on show.

To commemorate tomorrow's centenary, he is exhibiting his collection for the first time, from August 9 to 11 at Western Market, in Sheung Wan.

"No one pays attention to trams and [they] think that it's just a mode of transport," he says.

"But if trams were lost, I'd feel I'd lost an old friend. From the windows of the trams, Hong Kong people's lives have passed by. People have been able to see the city change from a poor place to a rich place.
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Last edited by hkskyline; December 24th, 2005 at 07:11 PM.
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