Trams [Streetcars] in Malta:
The Trams [Streetcars] in Malta where introduced in 1905. The Tram has two floors, the lower and the upper Decker, on the first floor were the operator [driver] is, it had had ten reversible wooden seats, in which it takes 20 passengers that they could sit down, and mostly the rest been known that they usually will stand up were farmers, due that they had to carry their fresh fruit and vegetables, including live chickens and rabbits, to be sold at Valletta market in which been known for many years. On the upper floor in which I call upper Decker, could accommodate up to 18 sitting passengers, but standing passengers wasn’t allowed due to the overhead wire were you could be electrocuted. The Tram had no doors or windows, and the upper deck had no roof, so you had to face the weather of that day. If it happen to be raining you’ll get wet, or when the wind is blowing hard, you’ll lose your hat or umbrella, seeing them flying through the air as in the old days the Maltese women and men mostly they always wear hats, due to the old traditional of the old days.
An elderly operator man usually drove the Tram, I presume due to responsibility and experience that required at that time. The Driver who operates the Tram was in charge of a large handle in which I call the controller that controlled the speed, to a maximum of 10 miles per hour. [The controller was similar to the old Tram [streetcar] Peter Witt in which went into service for the Toronto Transit Commission on October 1921, until the last cars were phased out in April 1963]. The operator [driver] also had a 15 foot wooden long stick, which he used to shift the pole that was connected on the overhead electrical wire, when the he [operator] losses the overhead pole, with the wooden long stick he puts the pole back on the overhead wire. [The overhead pole in which keeps contact with the overhead wire so it could receive the electrical power for the Tram electric motors, similar to the Trams, on the end of the pole a Morgan’s carbon brush is inserted to keep contact and slide easily on the overhead live wire to prevent damage, and the wheels since they’re driven on the rail itself, they become the ground]. As the tram moves on rails, on many occasion the pole used to come off the overhead wire, bringing the tram to an abrupt halt, and creating bluish spark flashes, sometimes even a frightening thud. [The reason the tram losing its pole from the overhead mostly because the carbon brush at the end of the pole its low, or none, because the carbon brush been chewed off, or otherwise it hit the connecters when wires are connected together]. The tram also had a small bell like the church, to warn perhaps a milkman with a herd of goats crossing the Tram’s path, or other people to get out of the tracks. The trams [streetcar] today they still have the similar bell but a round one]. The tram’s they had popular stops were most passengers will get on along the way to Birkirkara mostly Porte des Bombes, Floriana, fra Diegu Square, Hamrun, Fleur-de-lys and near the railway station, Birkirkara, while along the way to Paola, near the tram depot, the Addolorata cemetery and Paola, and others all the way to Cospicua [dockyard]. Of course there were more routes The trams had a big headlight, and under the headlight it had a treadle or you can call it a safety gate to prevent animals to go under the tram, or people, kids in case they slip in front of the tram while its driven, and also a lever for the Hand brake next to the driver to stop the tram in which the shoes will lock against the wheels, the driver also use the hand brake when he finish his routes and return to the garage or the Yard to park the tram to prevent the tram from rolling back or forward. Also had a track brake in which mostly is used in case of emergency, the track brake was magnetised that locks with the track like a magnet. If the tracks were full of soil or sand or dirt the Tram might have no power and it could fail in power due that it will have no ground, and you could get electrocuted shock if you touch the ground [road] while touching the tram at the same time. For the Maltese the Tram was a safe means of transportation for those days, with rarely any accident, mind you, according to some histories there was some little incidents such as the brakes of a Tram failed to work, and it wouldn’t go into emergency, and the Tram plummeted down a hill at Ghajn Dwieli, were several passengers were hurt. On another occasion, the Tram caught on fire near the depot at Marsa, this time no one was injured. This little bit of history on the Trams that they started running in Malta from 1905 until 1929 in which they were replaced by more modern transport the Buses. This it brings lots of memories to some of us about the good old days, and it’s a historical issue that Malta once did had Trams running on the Island as well as Trains.
* I hope you enjoyed reading about “The Trams in Malta,” and for the young Maltese they should be proud to say that once they had Trams and Trains on the Island of Malta.
Trams [Streetcars] in Malta: