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More than 200 family, friends and colleagues have attended
the funeral of Melbourne's longest serving tram driver, Len
Known as Lenny to his trammie colleagues and Lennie to his
family, Lenard Reginald Bates died on 27 December 2011, aged
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
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
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
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
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
A guard of honour was formed outside the chapel to
farewell Len on his final journey.
tribute to Lenny by Melbourne historian Robert
Above: Lenny receives a final round of applause
from colleagues and admirers after the memorial service.
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