Melbourne has long been a place characterised by its trams. Essentially the image is of W Series trams - the 305 operating and servicable trams of Classes W - W7, built 1923-1956. Of timber framed superstructure and fine joinery, with dropped centre design and saloons at both ends, the trams are a distinctly Australasian development. Operating through the central city and developed to facilitate suburban expansion in the post World War One era, these robust trams are the predominant Melbourne icon, presenting a strong symbol of the city through their apparently ubiquitous presence, reflected in tourist photographs, postcards or souvenir badges, and in part representing a system which helped shape Melbourne in the post war era.
An increasing number of cities throughout the world are developing tourist tramways with trams of mixed origin and style, and some are increasing their systems. Internationally, however, Lisbon and Oporto in Portugal, and Calcutta in India are the only other extensive electric networks known to the Trust, using trams of a vintage character. In this context Melbourne stands alone due to the distinct character of its stock. Well patterned into our history and a clear expression of daily life in Melbourne as they continue effectively to fulfill their practical function, the W Series trams are of state, national and international significance.