The 1925 Former Tram Substation building at 53 Maribyrnong Road.
The Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board (M&MTB) was created in 1919 to electrify, integrate and extend Melbourne's existing cable and electric tram routes. Following the formation of the State Electricity Commission (SEC) in 1920 electricity to power Melbourne's tram lines was taken from the state grid system at substations. These converted the SEC's 6500 volt alternating current (AC) to 600 volt direct current (DC) to operate the trams. Between 1925 and 1940 the M&MTB progressively electrified the old cable system, with new depots and substations built, lines were extended and new routes added. The Maribyrnong tram line had been established in 1906 by the North Melbourne Electric Tramways and Lighting Company Limited (NMETL), also known as the Essendon Tramways, a private tramway company which operated mainly within the municipalities of Essendon and Flemington, and was taken over by the M&MTB in 1920. The M&MTB extended the existing line and constructed the Ascot Vale substation in 1925 to power the trams on the line. The substation was probably designed by Alan G Monsborough, the board's architect, who was responsible for the design of all tramway buildings during the formative years of the electric tramway system. In 2005 the Ascot Vale substation became redundant and a new substation has been built at the rear.
The Former Ascot Vale Tram Substation is a tall red brick Inter-war Stripped Classical style building on concrete footings. Projecting from the front facade is a small square cable tower with disused cable insulators marking the original power connection. The substation has a rendered parapet, rendered dressings around the openings, steel-framed windows and a corrugated iron roof. The roof is topped by three large square ridge ventilators. The letters MMTB are inscribed in the render above the front entrance.
This site is part of the traditional land of the Kulin Nation.
How is it significant?
The Former Ascot Vale Tram Substation is of historical and architectural significance to the State of Victoria and satisfies the following criterion for inclusion in the Victorian Heritage Register:
Criterion A Importance to the course, or pattern, of Victoria's cultural history
Criterion D Importance in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a class of cultural places and objects
Why is it significant?
The Former Ascot Vale Tram Substation is significant at the State level for the following reasons:
The Former Ascot Vale Tram Substation is historically significant for its association with the development of Melbourne's transport systems in the early twentieth century, and with the role this played in the development of Melbourne and its suburbs. It is significant for its association with the development by the M&MTB of an integrated electric tramway system from the 1920s and as a demonstration of the scale and quality of works undertaken by the M&MTB. The Former Ascot Vale substation is one of four 1920s substations which survive relatively intact, and these, individually and as a group, help to demonstrate the scale of the electric tram network developed by the M&MTB in Melbourne and its suburbs and the infrastructure required for this work. (Criterion A)
The Former Ascot Vale Tram Substation demonstrates the form and scale of the substation buildings constructed in the 1920s to house the rectification and switching equipment required to operate the electric tram system. The building is a fine example of the application of the Inter-war Stripped Classical style to a utilitarian industrial building. (Criterion D)