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Motat's Big Ben - World Famous In NZ


10 August 2011

Motat's Big Ben - World Famous In NZ

MOTAT's tramway division has celebrated recent success at the Federation of Rail Organisations of New Zealand (FRONZ) annual conference, taking away the prestigious Tramway Restoration Award.

The award recognises the restoration of MOTAT's 1906 Wellington Double Decker Tram No.47 'Big Ben', the first of six bogie double deckers built.

As part of the award the tram division received a certificate and $500 towards a "study trip to an Australasian destination".

MOTAT's Coachwork Shop Manager, Bruce Pullar, said the award means a lot to the tramway section, who have worked a total of 12,000 hours over four years to restore 'Big Ben' back to its former glory.

"We are thrilled and honored to have received this award, it's great for the team to get the recognition for all their hard work," said Mr Pullar.

"All the time spent restoring the tram pays off when you see the smiles on the kids' faces as they climb to the top deck of the No.47, they are grinning from ear to ear!"

'Big Ben' had its first test run in Wellington in 1907. It was used as a much-loved form of transport by Wellingtonians until 1954, when it was withdrawn from passenger service and was almost taken to the scrap heap.

But 'Big Ben' survived and was put back on the tracks for its last stint as a works tram. In 1962 it was brought up to Auckland, just prior to the Wellington trams system closure in 1964.

Jeremy Hubbard, MOTAT Museum Director, said the award is a reminder of the great work MOTAT volunteers do and the value they add to the Museum.

"All our volunteers have this amazing passion and enthusiasm for what they do, that rubs off on our visitors and makes MOTAT the special place that it is."

"We wouldn't be where we are today without our dedicated team of volunteers, which is why I'm thrilled they have received this award," said Mr Hubbard.

Since the tram extension opened at MOTAT in 2007, over 629,865 passengers have made the return trip between the two MOTAT sites.


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