Opening up my mid-week copy of The Star newspaper, I was delighted to see a well-written article, Life on the trams recalled by 95-year-old.
I then spotted a photograph of 95 year old Geraldine Bowman in her conductress uniform of the 1950s, blowing her old trammie whistle. Behind her was Christchurch Tramway’s No. 178.
I have enjoyed meeting and chatting to Geraldine on several occasions. She has often donned her uniform and visited the tramway for special events.
Geraldine bravely joined the former Christchurch Tramways during WW2 while her husband was away at war and she had two young children at home. She told me she lived in Sumner and frequently cycled to the city to work on the 6.05 am tram departure from the Moorhouse Avenue depot to Sumner. Geraldine is probably one of the few trammies who can recall those heady days when electric tramcars provided the daily commuter transport.
Geraldine also worked on the final tram to run in Christchurch on September 11, 1954. It ran from the Hills to Papanui. She says, along with her uniform and whistle, she was issued with a key to the Tramway toilet. The key meant staff had their own facilities that the public could not access. She also says her old uniform still fits perfectly.
Geraldine Bowman will be guest of honour at the Tramway historical Society’s 50th anniversary this weekend.