Peak Tram offers a glimpse of the past

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 June, 2007, 12:00am

A gallery displaying exhibits dating back to the earliest days of the Peak Tram will open in September to celebrate the 120th anniversary of Asia's first funicular railway.

More than 200 items - including the early steam-powered haulage system - will be on display near the entrance to The Peak station, where waiting passengers can inspect them free of charge. The four tram stations and the terminus are also being renovated to mark the occasion.

Dressed in Edwardian costume yesterday, Martyn Sawyer, group general manager, properties and clubs, for Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotels - which owns the tramway - said the aim of the exhibition was to jog Hongkongers' memories.

'The Peak Tram is a popular cultural item packed with great romantic memories. I hope Hongkongers can recall Hong Kong's prosperous days and share the history,' he said.

The tramway, which opened on May 28, 1888, was changed from steam to electricity in 1926 and was further modernised from 1989.

Also on show will be 'bell punch' ticket validators, wooden ticket racks with coin testers, a surveyor's level and postcards, photos and souvenirs.

Engineer Leung Lim-joe, 58, who has worked for Peak Tramways since he was 19, donned a ticket-seller's uniform yesterday like the one he wore when young and declared: 'I feel I am back in the old times.'

He recalled some funny moments. 'Some passengers took off their shoes when they were on board. When the train went up, their shoes fell to the back and out of the car. They got off with no shoes.'

Mr Leung, who also worked as a driver, met people from all levels of Hong Kong society, including celebrities and leaders such as former governor David Wilson and former chief executive Tung Chee-wah.

'All I thought was to provide customers a comfortable environment with stable speed. That was the only thing always in my heart,' he said.

Mr Leung even met his love on The Peak, a woman who welcomed customers in the lift.