A surviving member from the first group of Wellington's original 1904 electric trams, which was in serious state of disrepair, has undergone a dramatic transformation.

After nearly four and a half years being restored at The Wheelwright Shop, based in Gladstone, Wairarapa, Tram 17 looks simply majestic.

The tram entered service when electric trams were introduced in Wellington in 1904 before it was withdrawn in the mid 1940s.

It then served as a holiday bach in Jeep Rd, Raumati South, but was in a dilapidated state when it was donated to the Wellington Tramway Museum, based in Kāpiti's Queen Elizabeth Park, in 1986.


It was stored undercover in the museum until 2014 before a conservation plan was created in recent years which led to The Wheelwright Shop winning a tender for its restoration.

"They're experts in heritage type vehicles," Tram 17 committee chairman Keith McGavin said.

It was a mammoth project because there was so much to do.

"Basically everything needed to be looked at."

New parts had to be made, old parts restored, identical parts from other trams used, and more.

"It's probably the biggest project they've ever done because the tram was in a pretty sorry state but has been brought right back to life.

"They've done a fantastic job and it's museum standard."

Tram 17 was trucked from the Wairarapa today before cranes lifted and lowered it onto a support base at the park and it was pushed into the museum.

Tram 17 in June 2018 with a lot of the restoration finished. Photo / David Haxton
Tram 17 in June 2018 with a lot of the restoration finished. Photo / David Haxton

The museum still has some work to do on the tram including selecting a tender to reconstruct the tram bogies [framework carrying wheelsets].

The tram will be a static display for a while until it becomes operational again.

"People will be able to enjoy the tram forever and it does tell something of the history of Wellington," Mr McGavin said.

"This was one of the very first trams that Wellington got.

"It was number 17 of course, but the first group of trams Wellington got was from one to 33 all at once.

"And it is the only one of those that has survived at all."

The restoration cost about $350,000 with the funding coming via Lotteries, various community trusts and donations from the public.