Farewell Lenny

5 January, 2012

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More than 200 family, friends and colleagues have attended the funeral of Melbourne's longest serving tram driver, Len Bates.

Known as Lenny to his trammie colleagues and Lennie to his family, Lenard Reginald Bates died on 27 December 2011, aged 81.

Some of Len's passengers were among those who gathered to celebrate the life of a man who had served as a tram driver for 56 years.

He had driven trams until he was diagnosed with cancer early in December last year. In fact the illness caused Len to take the first sick leave of his career.

In a eulogy delivered by Len's niece Tracey, she told of his dedication to his family and to his beloved trams.

Such was Len's devotion to his work that he even reported for duty after being hit by a car one day on his way to work at Kew Depot.

His favourite tram was the W-Class. It was the only tram in service when he joined the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board on 13 June 1955. His tram driver cap number was 3050.

Lenny was recently presented with a new cap and it was placed on his coffin during his funeral service.

The CEO of Yarra Trams Michel Masson paid tribute to Len Bates saying he was an "icon of the icon that is Melbourne's tram network." He said in the worldwide operations of the Yarra Trams French parent company Keolis, Len was unique as the only person to be driving trams at the age of 81.

Mr Masson said the company would consider a suitable way to ensure that Len Bates is remembered by future generations.

Representing the Rail Tram & Bus Union, Assistant Secretary Doug Brady said Lenny was loved and respected by his colleagues at Kew Depot. "Len will never be replaced. It leaves a great hole in our industry when we lose people like Lenny".

A guard of honour was formed outside the chapel to farewell Len on his final journey.

A tribute to Lenny by Melbourne historian Robert Pascoe.

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Above: Lenny receives a final round of applause from colleagues and admirers after the memorial service.


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