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Trams in Shanghai (2)

30 October 2010
 

Early Days of Shanghai Tram

The Heyday of Shanghai Tram

Dying Days & Resurrection

[1] [2] [3]

The heyday of Shanghai tram was between early 30s to late 50s when it became the most favourite travel mode of the residents and the most distinctive streetscape of downtown Shanghai both in visual and in audio senses. In the morning the residents with bedrooms near the main streets woke up by the crispy sound of tram bells, and at night they drifted into dreams in the cozy echo of the chimes.

Tram rails in Shanghai downtown in 1953

Shanghai resident 金陵人[1] was born and grown up in a house situated on Sichuan Road (四川路) with the door right in the front of a Route 1 stop. In the 50s, there was no shelter at the bus or tram stations in Shanghai, so from his balcony he could easily spot a tram pulling into the stop. Sometimes when he was late for school, he would check if there was a tram coming; and when there was one, he would race down the stairs and dash out the door and jump on board. It cost him 3 fens (3% of a yuan) to take the trip, a price which could afford him a baked sesame pie (大饼) for his breakfast or 3 low-quality pencils for his homework. The conductor would tear an appropriate ticket from a timber clipboard he/she was holding in his/her arm and punch a tiny hole in the ticket with a delicate copper pincer to indicate how far a passenger was allowed to travel with his fare.

Another native Shanghai resident pen named 食砚无田 also narrated on his blog [2] about his childhood memory of tram:

阿拉小辰光住在上海天潼路(近河南中路)的怡如里(646弄),那时有一辆8路有轨电车(杨树浦至东新桥)经过我家弄堂口,3分钱起价。那时家境拮据,我少有零用钱,尽管很想乘坐电车去南京路,但苦于囊中羞涩,常常站在弄堂口看着电车远去的背影,梦游一番。

到了上小学时,母亲每周才给我2分钱零用,我舍不得化,把钱一分一分攒起来,存入一个泥制储蓄罐。听到硬币掉入罐中声响,想到会有越来越多乘电车的钱,内心如灌蜜似的,快乐无比。

侬晓得勿?乘有轨电车最有味道的是立勒驾驶员旁边,看伊开车。伊是立勒亥开车咯。

1968年,我家从天潼路搬到武宁路,住进了有煤卫设施的楼房。远离了弄堂,远离了石库门,远离了有轨电车,一种怅然若失之感油然而生。可以说,“叮叮当当”的电车声伴我走完了少年时代。

When I was a little boy my family lived in a shared Stone Gate Terrace House in Merry Alley (#646 Lane) at Tiantong Road (near Henan Zhong Road), where Tram Route 8 from Yangshupu to East New Bridge passed through with fare starting at 3 fens. At the time my family’s finally situation was rather tight and I seldom got any pocket money. I would love to take for a ride to Nanjing Road, but I could not afford the fare so often stood at the entrance of the alleyway watching trams disappearing in the direction of the downtown centre and fancied what I might experience if I were on board.

It was until I started attending primary school that my mother began to give my 2 fens each week as my pocket money. I saved all of them in a clay coin saver. The sound of a coin falling into the saver would make me so thrilled, as I pictured with these coins how many sweet tram trips I would be able to take.

You know, the most delightful experience in riding tram was to stand next to the driver who also stood there while driving the vehicle.

My family moved to Wuning Road in 1968 to live in a flat with a proper kitchen and a bathroom, leaving behind the allay, the Stone-Gate Terrace House and trams, which somehow made me feel as if I lost a part of my life. The chinking sound of tram bells that had accompanied my entire childhood is so unforgettable.

The following is 金陵人’s description of the tram riding experience:

有轨电车司机是站着开车的(后来才有一种高脚蹬子坐),叮叮当当声音是司机用脚踩着踏板而发出的“喇叭”声,左右手控制着方向和速度的把手,我往往会站在司机后面,好奇地看着他们四肢并用的能力。

车厢内的装置几乎都是木制的,地板也是木条的,四周都有一些小装饰,现回想起来倒很有艺术感,车速很慢,而且常晃荡不止,也就在这摇摇摆摆中,我走过了美好的中学时代。

Tram driver stood for the whole trip behind the handles for direction and speed (only in the late years they were offered a tall stool), and the bell sound was caused by driver’s foot pressing down on a metal treadle that hit against a metal device and produced clapping sound. I often stood behind the driver observing with great amazement that how wonderfully he was able to utilize all his arms and legs at the same time.

The interior of the carriage was exclusively made of timber, even the floor, with small ornaments all around; when looking back, I realized how artistic these tiny ornaments were. The tram normally progressed at a leisurely speed, while carriages kept rocking and swaying, a motion that became the backdrop throughout my entire high school years.

A tram driver checking the situation at the front door, Shanghai, 1936

[1] gongjiaomi.com/thread-123447-1-1.htm
[2] http://blog.subaonet.com/html/98/9998-11611.html

[1] [2] [3]

Early Days of Shanghai Tram
The Heyday of Shanghai Tram
Dying Days & Resurrection

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RELATED:

The Tram to Bondi Beach is a well-crafted and beautifully-illustrated story by Libby Hathorn and Julie Vivas about a 9-year old Sydney boy's professional endeavour as a paperboy on trams traveling to Bondi Beach, a commercial centre directly facing the Pacific Ocean.

The boy's most cherished dream was to become a tram driver when grown up so he could be rattling and flying down the hill to the beach.

The rise and fall of the fate of Sydney tram follow a very much similar pattern and timeline as that occurred in Shanghai.

The first electric tram service down to Bondi Beach began in 1906, just two year earlier than the tram service to Waitan, a commercial centre directly facing Shanghai's mother river Huangpu.

The heyday of tram in Sydney was in 1940s. At its peak in 1945, the tram network had carried 404 million passengers, but since entering 1950s, the tram was gradually replaced by buses.

The last tram to North Bondi and Bronte ran in the early hours of Sunday 28th February, 1960, 3 years before the final run of Shanghai Tram Route 1 to Waitan, while the entire Sydney tram network was finally closed at the end of February 1961, 14 years before that in Shanghai.

Reference: bondivillage.com/thennow.htm


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