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Traffic Chaos Caused by Fusing of Electric Tram Wires (c.1926)


This newsreel segment filmed by Gordon Gidney covers a traffic jam caused by the fusing of electric tram wires in Melbourne in the 1920s.

Curator’s notes

In the years before television, newsreels screened weekly to Australian cinema audiences typically showing a mixture of overseas and local content. News items often featured events – such as the Melbourne Cup or a visit by a head of state – and local interest stories, such as this segment where fused tram wires have caused chaos in Melbourne.

This footage captures the spectacle of the incident from different angles, focusing on the ensuing chaos – the crowds, the stalled tram, the electric wiring, and the tracks in the road – to build an overall picture of the event. In the 1920s, an electric tramways system was superseding Melbourne’s cable set-up. By the 1930s, electric routes had replaced most of the cable routes.

This newsreel was filmed by cameraman Gordon Gidney, a mostly amateur filmmaker who occasionally worked for professional organisations. Gidney had a large family inheritance which allowed him to travel abroad and make travelogues and record private footage of events such as the Battle of Britain in 1940. He also filmed many home movies around his Mount Eliza home in Victoria.