Photos | Sydney Tramway Museum begins operations at Loftus

The opening of Sydney's new light rail system comes 54 years after trams from the city's original tramway began running again at Loftus.

The Sydney Tramway Museum began life in 1950, well before the last electric trams made their last trips to La Perouse and Maroubra Beach on February 25, 1961.

From 1957, the museum operated from a large corrugated iron shed at Loftus alongside what is now the Parklink line, on the opposite side of Princes Highway from the current site.

On March 13, 1965, the then deputy NSW premier Pat Hills drove LP class tram 54 through a white ribbon stretched across the tram track, signalling the re-start of tramway operations.

Hundreds of people came from all over Sydney and beyond to celebrate the occasion.

The Sydney Tramway Museum was the idea of pastry cook Norm Chinn and school principal Ken McCarthy, who were later joined by two others.

Mr Chinn told the Leader in 2010 they were members of an association that was fighting to stop the removal of trams from Sydney's streets.

''When you are 21, you think you can do anything,'' he said.

''After the Rockdale to Brighton-Le-Sands tramway closed in 1949, we asked if we could have a tram.

''My mother wasn't impressed when I told her we might have to put it in our front yard. They gave us one tram, then a second and, as they say, the rest is history.

''From the start, we wanted it to be a living museum, where people could enjoy the experience of riding a tram.

''That's common in museums today, but it was novel back then.''

The first museum site had about 800 metres of track and a shed built from second hand materials.

The museum received a big boost in 1976 when approval was given for it to move across Princes Highway to its present site, next to Loftus train station.

The museum's future had been in doubt because, not only was it inside Royal National Park, it was also in the path of the proposed southern expressway (F6).

The relocated museum opened in March, 1988.

In 1993, the museum line was extended on to the heavy rail line (Parklink), previously used by trains running to Royal National Park station, above Audley.

In 2002, a facade of the historic YMCA building in the city, which was demolished for a new development, was re-erected at the museum.

Work began on building a four-storey visitor and education centre behind the facade, but lack of funds has prevented the project being completed.