Belgium’s Forgotten Trams: Fascinating Vintage Photos Show the Tram System of Belgium from the 1960s and 1970s

Belgium has one of the oldest tram networks in the world. The first horse-drawn trams were introduced in the city in 1869, from the Porte de Namur to the Bois de la Cambre. The steam trams came to Belgium in 1877, however, they were failed because the engines were not capable of the hilly terrain and the tests were stopped. The first electric tram lines were laid in 1894, several private companies also built their own tram lines and the system became fully operational in the early 20th century.

Tram services were stopped during World War I, because of poor maintenance, and they were used for military purposes. The system restored in 1925 and for the World Exhibition of 1935, the famous ‘5000-series’ trams, the first in Brussels with two bogies, were put into service. From 1969, trams were adapted to run in the tunnel, using block signaling.

These stunning vintage photos show what the tram system of Belgium looked like in the 1960s and 1970s.

#1 It was one of the largest suburban tramway networks in Europe during the heydays; the NMVB-SNCV

#2 Motorcar 4415 dressed for route Nº 24 at the Jan van Wouwerstraat in front of the stelplaats (depot) Hoboken, Antwerp.

#3 Motorcar 5858 + PCC car 2012 (brake-down) on tow near the workshop and depot Grotehondstraat, Antwerp.

#4 Motorcar 8827 + carts with rail near the stelplaats / depot Merksem, Antwerp.

#5 PCC 7077 on route Nº 55 at Gare du Sud / South Station, Brussels.

#6 Motorcar 9647 on route Nº 63 (NMVB outbound) heading for Brasschaat passes the city tram terminal Merksem, Antwerp.

#7 Motorcar 9659 on route Nº 63 (NMVB) has just left the terminus on the Franklin Rooseveltplaats / square and running on the Italiëlei, Antwerp.

#8 PCC 2071 on route Nº 11 in old livery at the Carnot Street under renovation, Antwerp.

#9 PCC car 2038 on route Nº 7 has just left the terminus Mortsel, Antwerp.

#10 PCC car 2100 on route Nº 10 during reconstruction in the Carnotstraat near the Middenstatie / Central Station, Antwerp.

#11 PCC cars 2038 on route Nº 7 and 2097 on route Nº 15 at the terminus Mortsel, Antwerp.

#12 Motorcar 165 + trailer 2105 on route Nº 76 on the Grasmarkt, Brussels.

#13 Motorcar 1327 + trailer 2087 on route Nº 62 at the Godfried van bouillonstraat with steep alignment, Brussels.

#14 Motorcar 1511 on route Nº 102 on the Boulevard Baudouin, Brussels.

#15 Motorcar 10356 on route L (cross out) to Meisse has just left the terminal on Place Charles Rogier, Brussels.

#16 Motorcar 10476 on route W at Rue des Croisades / Kruisvaartenstraat (Crusade) near Gare du Nord / Noordstatie (North Station), Brussels.

#17 Motorcar 303 on route Nº 15 passes trailer Nº 8 at the South Station loop, Charleroi.

#18 Motorcar 307 on route Nº 15 traversing the Rue de l’Eglise (Church Street) on his way to the South Station (Gare du Sud), Charleroi.

#19 Motorcar 311 + trailer 11 on route Nº 2 at Rue de L’Eglise – Quai de Brabant, Charleroi.

#20 Motorcar 410 onroute Nº 8 near the end station Chatelet on Rue de Couillet, Charleroi.

#21 Motorcar 9749 + trailer 19464 on route Nº 31 at the stop Avenue de l’Europe, Charleroi.

#22 Motorcar 9751 on route Nº 50 and motorcar on route Nº 51 in front of the South Station, Charleroi.

#23 Motorcar 10164 on route Nº 65 near the depot entrance at the Place de Tramways – The Tramway Square, Charleroi.

#24 Motorcar 10279 on route Nº 93 and 10269 on route Nº 82 at the terminus ‘Eden’, on the Boulevard Jaques Bertrand, Charleroi.

#25 Trailer 11 + motorcar 448 are shifting at the depot Châtelet, Charleroi.

#26 Motorcar 320 on route Nº 1 towards Moscou, just passed Gravensteen (old castle and landmark), Ghent.

#27 Motorcar 323 on the long gone route Nº 3 in the middle of town, Ghent.

#28 Motorcar 331 on route Nº 4 passing a bridge, Ghent.

#29 Motorcar 335 on route Nº 4 runs through the Veldstraat city centre, Ghent.

#30 Motorcar 360 on route Nº 2 at the end stop Arsenaal (Brusselsesteenweg), Ghent.

#31 Motorcar 341 on route Nº 4 towards St. Pieters Station, Ghent.

#32 Motorcar 362 on route Nº 1 at the terminus van Beverenplein, Ghent.

#33 Motorcar 376 on route Nº 1 at the terminus Moscou. The conductor or wattman changed the pantograph for the right direction, Ghent.

#34 Motorcar 10261 on route Nº 32 winds itself through the street of La Louvière, La Louvière.

#35 End station city centre, the motorman of car 318 takes a brake before pleasing the crowd waiting, Liège

#36 Motorcar 314 on route Nº 3 along the banks of the River Meuse towards Flemalle, Liège.

#37 Motorcar 301 on route Nº 3 next to the River Meuse (Maas) on its way to the end stop in the centre, Liège.

#38 Motorcar 318 on route Nº 3 approaches the end station in the city centre with narrow streets, Liège.

#39 Motorcar 10076 as special service enters the station square from the city site, Mons.

#40 Motorcar 10491 on route Nº 9 leaves the station square on the North side, Mons.

#41 Motorcar 10019 (modified former diesel motorcar) for shunting trailers at the tram station for route Nº 1 and 2, Ostend.

#42 Motorcar 10053 + two trailers on route Nº 1 along the yard harbour near the station on its way to Knokke, Ostend.

#43 Motorcar 10053 + two trailers on route Nº 1 passing a bridge over the yard harbour near the station, Ostend.

#44 Motorcar 34 on route Nº 1 (cross out) (cross out stands for short services) coming down in the ‘Rue Thier Mère Dieu’, Verviers.

#45 Motorcar 87 on route Nº 1 near Renoupré, Verviers.

#47 A 1908 Vintage tram car on route 12 negotiating the curve from Van Wesenbekestraat to Gemeentestraa. Antwerpen, 1973

#48 Tram and car traffic under the “removable steel viaduct” that spoiled Rooseveltplaats for so many years. Antwerpen, 1973

#49 A standard tram set at the terminus in Rue Henri Maus, next to the Bourse (Exchange). Brussels, 1971

#50 At Bareel van Sint-Gillis and Barrière de Saint-Gilles. A star-shaped sort-of roundabout where six streets meet. Brussels, 1971

#54 SNCV/NMVB-route 89 was in the 1970s a short-working of the 80 service from Charleroi, ending in Chapelle-lez-Herlaimont right in front of the local friture, Chapelle-lez-Herlaimont.

#57 Tram terminus Charleroi Eden by night. Charleroi, circa 1975

#58 A miner (or probably a steel worker) enjoys the winter sun as a vicinal tram passes his home in. Dampremy, 1973

#59 Tram on street with the cokes factory in Marchienne-au-Pont in the background. Dampremy, 1973

#60 Swinging the bow collector at the terminus of line 20 near Ghent, Melle, 1973.

#61 Under the watching eye of the tram driver, the conductor (still wearing the traditional dust coat) is setting the points to the right direction, Roux, 1975

#62 On a bleak and drizzly morning when the street lights stay on burning, Souvret. circa 1975

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Written by Aung Budhh

Husband + Father + librarian + Poet + Traveler + Proud Buddhist. I love you with the breath, the smiles and the tears of all my life.

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