There are also heaps of information about the tramway, and visitors can take a ride on a tram.
The place is run by volunteers, which is just as well, as nobody could afford to pay someone to do the mammoth amounts of restoration work being undertaken.
The museum is set on about two hectares and has 500 metres of useable track. Plans are under way to create a 1950s streetscape.
Old signage is key and there seems to be plenty of that. There’s a delightful reminder to pay the fare and a request for smokers to stand at the end.
The signal box that sat above the street outside McWhirters at the corner of Wickham and Brunswick streets sets the scene.
It was one of a number of elevated boxes at busy junctions with complicated trackwork. The signalman had to be above the street so he could see the destination blind of the oncoming trams in time to set the points.
He had seven levers to change points and signals hydraulically, to keep trams safe and on the right course.
The signalman couldn’t leave his post on his eight-hour shift, so he worked beside a flush toilet, which is also still there.
Another treasure is the Scammel tractor truck. It was produced by the UK war office as an ammunition supply and towing vehicle for artillery, and used at Tobruk and El Alamein to carry loads of 15 tonnes or more of ammunition.
On February 19, 1945, the Australian Army sold it to Brisbane City Council, which had it modified to assist in derailments and other tram and bus breakdowns.
After 36 years it was retired and arrived at the museum in 1982. Nicknamed Scamp, it was driven under its own power from the city to its new home at Ferny Grove.
Static displays trace the history of Brisbane trams from the first horsedrawn services in 1885 to their demise in 1969.
Equivalent of the accelerator on the first trams was a whip holder and there were only two speeds: go and stop.
The first electric tram operated in 1897, and horsedrawn trams withdrawn from service a year later.
With petrol rationing and troops in town during World War II, passenger loads reached 160 million in 1944-45. By 1952, tram lines covered 108 kilometres and there were 428 trams. The last new line was built in 1961.
Services peaked in the 1950s when few families could afford to own a car. The last trams left after midnight to “clear the drunks out of the city”.
Thirty Sunbeam trolley buses were ordered from England in 1947, but didn’t arrive until 1950 because of post-war materials shortages.
The trolley bus services, known as “whispering death” because you didn’t hear them coming, ended just a few months before the trams.
Everything was made in Brisbane, including the conductor’s cap; the only exception being the motors, which were brought from England.
On September 28, 1962, Brisbane residents awoke to the news that 65 trams had been lost in a devastating fire at the Paddington tram depot.
This sudden loss of almost one-quarter of the tram fleet caused both immediate and lasting damage to Brisbane’s public transport system.
The end finally came on April 13, 1969.
The tramway museum is a fine reminder of the golden era of Brisbane public transport and will be celebrating its anniversary with a full program including a reenactment of a Scottish piper playing as the last tram, Tram 554, entered the depot.
For opening times visit brisbanetramwaymuseum.org
Brismania.com is a blog dedicated to playing the tourist at home; the quest to find the inspirational, quirky and interesting lurking in the streets of Brisbane.