Launceston Municipal Transport
By Ian G Cooper
Published 2006 by Transit Australia Publishing
170 pages, A4 size, soft cover, 145 photographs (18 in colour), 5 maps, illustrations of tickets in colour, fleet lists, bibliography.
Launceston was late amongst Australian provincial cities in developing an electric tramway system, and they missed out on the steam and horse varieties. But once they started, they developed their 3 ft 6 in gauge system with great enthusiasm, ending up with a system that was large for a city of its size. It seems to have been appreciated too, for its traffic figures were very high compared to other Australian tramway systems. At its peak in 1946 there were eight routes and 29 tramcars. Several of the routes were in very hilly areas and provided challenges both in construction and operation, with grades of 1 in 10.
This is a thoroughly researched history of the system, and very well illustrated. It includes full details of the trolley bus system that replaced the tramways, as well as the petrol and diesel buses operated by Launceston Municipal Tramways. The book is very well illustrated, and the quality of the photographic reproduction is good. The book ends in 1955 when the installation of the trolley-bus system was practically complete, – three years after the last tram ran. It is very interesting reading of all the problems after the second-world war due to the shortages of practically everything needed to run a transport system. Amongst the colour pictures are six postcards from around the 1912 era. Perhaps for me the most memorable photographs were of the three very peculiar steam buses which were tried in 1904-05. They win the award for wierdness, I think.