The Brunswick West Tramway Substation building, land and objects integral to the place including:
. The following fixed items of electrical equipment and their interconnecting cabling including: open three phase bus bars to bring high voltage (HV) AC power from Dawson Street; 6.6 kV AC switchgear; an air cooled transformer; a choke inductor; a bank of four mercury arc rectifier bulbs in steel cabinets; a 600 Volt DC switchboard including automatic control gear and current limiting resistors; a 600 Volt DC negative high speed circuit breaker; emergency resistor coils; three outgoing feeders to the overhead tram traction wires via isolators to carry DC power out of the building to the overhead tramway wires; underground cables bringing DC power from the tram rails back into the building and an AC switchboard.
. All fixtures attached to the building at the time of registration including the brick cells to hold the AC switchgear, light fittings, wire screens and gates, toilet and hand basin.
. The following movable items: a timber box for transporting one mercury arc rectifier bulb, electrical schematic diagrams, substation diaries and other documents, substation operating tools and furniture.
How is it significant?
The Brunswick West Tramway Substation is of historical significance to the State of Victoria. It satisfies the following criterion for inclusion in the Victorian Heritage Register:
Importance to the course, or pattern, of Victoria's cultural history.
Possession of uncommon, rare or endangered aspects of Victoria's cultural history.
Importance in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a class of cultural places and objects.
Why is it significant?
The Brunswick West Tramway Substation is significant at the State level for the following reasons:
The Brunswick West Tramway Substation is historically significant for its association with the electrification of the existing cable tramways in the 1920s and 30s, and the widespread construction of new electric tramways beyond the reach of the cable tram system. It serviced the West Coburg Tramway which facilitated the development of much of the western side of Brunswick and Coburg. Operation of electric tramways provided a number of advantages to the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramway Board (M&MTB) over cable tram operation. These included lower capital costs, greater speed and flexibility, adaptability to extension and simplification of terminal shunting. While power was provided to the West Coburg line from Sydney Road from 1925, there would have problems with voltage drop leading to slow and inefficient operation of the tramcars. The 1936 creation of the Brunswick West Tramway Substation on Melville Road overcame this. The refined Moderne design of the building with the prominent display of the large electrical transformer demonstrates the pride felt by the M&MTB in its establishment of a progressive electric tram system. (Criterion A)
The Brunswick West Tramway Substation is historically significant as a rare example of a substation with all its original equipment still located in the building. It is one of only three substations in Victoria known to retain mercury arc rectification equipment, and the only one which is complete. All the equipment is present and still connected which means that the substation could be returned to operation. The mercury arc bulbs, their matching transformer and some other equipment were made overseas and the automatic control equipment on the DC switchboard was designed and manufactured by the M&MTB. (Criterion B)
The Brunswick West Tramway Substation is significant because it is oneofthe few places which demonstrates the principal characteristicsandfunctioning of a tramway substation utilising mercury arcrectifyingequipment. The Brunswick West Tramway Substation is a notableexample ofa tram substation as it contains all the originalrectification equipment showing how banks of mercury arc glass bulbrectifierstogether with their matching specialised transformer, a chokeinductor,switchgear, switchboards, circuit breakers, control gearandinterconnecting cables converted AC power to DC power for the DCmotorson trams. The location of the substation next to a tram linedemonstrates how the DC motors in trams needed to be supplied by a600Volt DC source approximately every four kilometres in order toprovide astable power supply without excessive voltage drop limiting thetram'sspeed. (Criterion D)