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Opening of the Prahran-Malvern Tramway (1910)


This silent historical footage filmed by Millard Johnson and William Gibson captures the opening of the Prahran-Malvern Tramway, Victoria, on 30 May 1910.

Curator’s notes

When the first trams pulled out of the Malvern Depot on Glenferrie Road in 1910, Millard Johnson and Williams Gibson were there to record the event. The first tram route travelled along High Street, from Charles Street, Prahran to Tooronga Road, Malvern; and via Glenferrie Road and Wattletree Road to Burke Road, East Malvern. While the footage is brief (running just over six minutes), it captures the crowds gathered at the depot for the opening speech, the first trams pulling out of the Malvern Depot, part of the tram route, and the local mayor and his wife disembarking from the first tram.

Millard Johnson and William Gibson were two of the early pioneers of Australian silent film. They were partners in a pharmacy business in St Kilda and moved into cinema photography and processing from their backgrounds as chemists. The two began screening films around Melbourne from 1905. In 1906 they were involved in the production of The Story of the Kelly Gang. As well as producing the film with the Tait Brothers, Johnson was the cinematographer on the film and Gibson handled the lab processing and printing. Through their production company Johnson & Gibson, the pair made a handful of actuality films recording daily life and events around Melbourne. Their film Living Hawthorn, made in 1906, contains some of the earliest footage of everyday life in Hawthorn, Victoria.