The Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board (M. & M.T.B.) was established under the provisions of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Act 1918 (No.2995). The Board was established to operate, control, manage and maintain all tramway undertakings and tramways constructed by, vested in, transferred to, or acquired by it. The Board was authorised to construct and to complete the existing tramways. By an order of the Governor-in-Council dated 22nd July 1919, the seven members of the Board, including a Chairman and a Deputy Chairman were appointed.
Under the provisions of a further Order-in-Council, the first meeting of the M. & M.T.B. was held on 1 November 1919 and under the provisions of the Act, this was deemed to be the date on which the majority of the sections of the Act, came into operation. The M. & M.T.B. was an independent statutory body which reported to the Minister of Public Works until 1952 and subsequently to the Minister of Transport.
The M. & M.T.B. was given responsibility for the operation of all tramways within a sixteen kilometre radius of the General Post Office. The only exceptions were the lines operated by the Victorian Railways.
Takeover of Existing Tramways
The M. & M.T.B. was deemed to be the successor of the Cable Tramway Board (VA 2693) and the Royal Park Horse Tramway. These cable tramways (except the Northcote Cable Tramway, which was taken over on 20 February 1920) were taken over by the Board on 1 November 1919. The assets and obligations of the following suburban tramways were transferred to the Board on 2 February 1920:
Prahran and Malvern Tramways Trust (VA 2977)
Hawthorn Tramways Trust (VA 2978)
Melbourne, Brunswick and Coburg Tramways Trust (VA 2971)
Fitzroy, Northcote and Preston Tramways Trust (VA 2972)
Footscray Tramway Trust (VA 2973)
Northcote Municipality Cable Tramways (VA 520)
Of the respective tramways taken over by the M. & M.T.B. the Footscray and the Fitzroy, Northcote and Preston Tramways were only in the process of construction at the time the M. & M.T.B. was established. The construction of the Fitzroy, Northcote and Preston Tramways was completed on 1 April 1920 and the Footscray Tramways on 6 September 1921.
The M. & M.T.B. did not take over the North Melbourne - Essendon Electric Tramways (VA 2974) at the time it took over the other suburban lines. The Government eventually bought the Company's interest in both the lighting and tramways undertakings and transferred the tramway function to the Board by a subsequent Act (3247) which came into operation on 21 December 1922.
Initially the various tramways and their administration were grouped into three systems as follows:
(i) Metropolitan Cable Tramways
(ii) Northcote Cable Tramways
(i) Prahran and Malvern Electric Tramways
(ii) Hawthorn Electric Tramways
(i) Melbourne, Brunswick and Coburg Electric Tramways
(ii) Fitzroy, Northcote and Preston Electric Tramways
(iii) Footscray Electric Tramways
In 1923 centralisation of the management of these systems resulted in all three systems being brought under the supervision of a traffic superintendent who was responsible to a newly appointed manager for the operation of the combined system.
The accountancy departments of the three systems were amalgamated and transferred to the head office under the Secretary's Department. The Secretary was the signatory to all the official correspondence of the Board. The individual departments had to channel all their correspondence through the Secretary. The Chairman of the Board occasionally handled some correspondence personally. However, generally the Secretary handled all matters pertaining to the Board, drew up agenda for meetings, acted upon the decisions taken by the Board and negotiated on all property matters.
The Engineer's Department was placed under a Chief Engineer (T.P. Strickland) on 1 October 1921. The supervision of the permanent way, power Houses, power supply, rolling stock and buildings as well as the construction and conversion of cable tramways to electric traction was carried out by the Engineer's Department. The Chief Engineer was responsible for all engineering matters eg, civil. mechanical, electrical, architectural, design, maintenance and construction work, all contracts concerning buses and trams and purchases of vehicles. From 1939 to 1952 (from T.P. Strickland's retirement to the appointment of a new Chief Engineer) the officers in charge of each sub-department reported directly to the Chairman of the Board.
Development of Tramways
Under Section 34 of the Act, the Board was directed to prepare and adopt a "General Scheme" which was to provide a plan or framework upon which a systematic extension could be carried out, and to provide a basis for the future development of the tramways of the Metropolis. The proposal envisaged a vast expansion of the tramway system with several new lines.
The proposals for the "General Scheme" were submitted to the Commissioner of Public Works and were referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Railways for consideration and report.
The Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board Act 1918 provided for the creation of an "Appeals Board" consisting of one representative appointed by the Board, one elected by the employees and an independent Chairman appointed by the Governor-in-Council. The Appeals Board was established to hear appeals from employees' against dismissals, fines, deduction from wages, reduction in rank, grade or pay and other punishments inflicted' by the Board.
Introduction of Bus Services
Following the proclamation of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Act 1923 (No.3308), the Board was empowered to operate omnibuses. The Motor Omnibuses Acts of 1924 and 1925 removed competition on tramway routes. The power conferred on the Board to operate buses was intended only to be subsidiary to its main function of tramway operations.
Parks and Gardens
The M. & M.T.B. was also empowered to purchase lands for use as parks or gardens. Wattle Park was acquired as part of the tramway undertaking of the Board. The Board took over the debenture liability on Wattle Park from the Hawthorn Tramways Trust and developed the park as a place of recreation.
Administrative Restructures 1952 and 1983
The Transport Act 1951 (No.5559) transferred responsibility for the administration of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways to the Minister of Transport. The Act came into operation on 14 March 1952.
Responsibility for the functions of the M. & M.T.B. passed to the Metropolitan Transit Authority (VA 1044) in a major administrative restructure in 1983 with the passing of the new Transport Act 1983 (No.9921) which came into operation on 1 July 1983.
Location of Records
See list below and inventories of series for other tramway trusts mentioned in this text.