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Keywords:

  • tram;
  • destruction;
  • Sydney;
  • remembering and forgetting

Abstract

At its peak the Sydney tramway system was the second largest in both the British Empire and the Southern Hemisphere. During its busiest years in the mid-1940s over 404 million fares were sold but despite this popularity the last tram in Sydney ran in 1961, just sixteen years later. This research makes use of the archaeological remains, landscape remnants and a study of the processes of removal of the Sydney tram system as a case study in destruction. By using Buchli and Lucas' (2001) framework of the material processes of remembering and forgetting, an understanding of the processes of destruction, as well as the reasons for removal of specific parts of the system is developed. The framework shows that the symbolic and strategic removal of a system can be used to ensure that it is made unworkable as well as removing it from the public consciousness. Such actions ensured that the system could not be easily restored.