News and Views from a Tramway Muse. By David Fryer

‘I’m a tram!’ said Sam. ‘I’m your line-dance ma’am. I move in the groove and clang when I Can-Can.’ D. F.

When  Reverend W. Awdry, OBE, created Thomas the Tank Engine in the middle of World-War Two, many people thought it was in poor taste. While hundreds were dying every night from indiscriminate Nazi bombing and deadly London smogs, here was a man playing with his toy trains and writing books for children. No-one ever thought his creation would eventually spin into a multi-million pound industry. Today, Thomas may be a tad naff or even sexist for some, but he still managed to become a household name around the world.

And who would have thought a public competition to name a £200 million polar research vessel would make prime TV news on the opposite side of the globe? Boaty McBoatface was jokingly suggested by a former BBC radio presenter, but the public loved the idea and it quickly became the most popular choice. The name has been described as a homage to Hooty McOwlface, an owl named through an ‘Adopt-a-Bird’ program that became extremely popular on the internet in 2012. Unfortunately, Boaty McBoatface was deemed too frivolous for a serious research vessel by those at the top, but it was too good to waste and it’s now the name of the lead boat in a fleet of autonomous battery–powered mini-submarines.

Sadly, Brisbane lacks an equivalent to Thomas the Tank Engine or Boaty McBoatface. However, there are some wonderful vintage trams at the Tramway Museum in Ferny Grove. None have names or faces, but they are well endowed with charm and character and most know how to shake, rattle and roll. The directors are always open to suggestions and eager to please visitors, especially children. So, why not ‘take on a tram’ for your next kindy project? The kids could paint a tram mural with themselves at the windows. What name would they choose for their people parcel? Maybe they could make a clip-on face for the horse-drawn tram, or even a giant traffic-jam tart in red, orange and green for the group visit. Now that would be a visual feast………

© David Fryer.

The Brisbane Tramway Museum is proudly sponsored by the Brisbane City Council

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