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JULY 2008 NEWS UPDATE, HIGH ST CABLE CAR 
 
THE STEERING COMMITTEE 
Following last year's meetings at the Otago Settlers' Museum where keen practical interest was shown by over eighty people in helping to  restore a Dunedin cable car line to Mornington, a Steering Committee was set up on behalf of the Dunedin High St Cable Car Action Group. Chaired by experienced Dunedin lobbyist and lawyer Tony Chance, the Committee includes engineer Phil Cole, cable car historian Bill Campbell, Sue Russell with experience in the Tourism sector, Elizabeth Kerr a former chair of the Otago Historic Places Trust, Don Myers chair of  the former High St Cable Car Ginger group, and Neville Jemmett founder member of a Wild Life Park.  One of the Committee's first actions was to set up a Trust which is called the Dunedin High St Cable Car Trust. This is in the process of being incorporated under the Charitable Trusts Act of 1957 

WHAT YOUR COMMITTEE IS DOING
 
Tony Chance, Phil Cole and the Steering Committee have written an illustrated paper putting the case for a restored cable car line up High St. This was requested by Mayor Peter Chin, and Councillors Richard Walls and Chris Staynes. The proposed line would leave from the original Exchange terminus at the High/Princes St terminus and end near the original terminus at Mornington village. Rather than have trams being pushed across Eglinton Road as they once were to join the cable, they and the power house would be located on the reserve side of the road. Few technical details have been gone into at this stage, but a cable car museum is envisaged at the terminus, and a car park to save commuters the expense of parking in the city centre. Some initial thinking is being done on timetabling and fare structures, the space taken on the road by the dual lines, and how to make the line itself visibly attractive and accessible. Due to an alternative proposal for Stuart St (see below) the Committee is making further submissions to the Mayor and Council re the advantages of  the line up High St. 
 
RESTORATION OF ACTUAL TRAMS 
There has been continuous progress on the restoration of Mornington cable car trailer 111 at the Tramway Historical Society workshop in Christchurch. This continues at high quality heritage level to running order. The outer body work is complete, painted very attractively and about to be lettered to the 1930’s livery of cream, historic red, with black and gold lining out. The sale of Don McAra’s paintings of cable cars, including some done since the publication of “Hold Very Tight, Please” has brought in sufficient finance to cast the wheels and other running equipment of 111, and quotes have been called for from three foundries. The cost per wheel is approx $850.

Roslyn gripcar No. 95 has been restored already, though needs some further work on the undergear. Mornington grip car No.103 will be the next to be restored by the small cable car group at the T.H.S. Another Mornington trailer, 110, also awaits restoration. 
 
HELP REQUIRED FOR RESTORATION WORK 
The Tramway Historical Society is always short of active members and has a very full programme of  restoring South Island electric trams to maintain. New volunteers of whatever age are always welcome and will receive friendly guidance to learn many fascinating skills from the Society’s highly qualified full time staff. Among future tram projects is the restoration to display level of New Zealand’s very first electric tram, Dunedin Roslyn/Maori Hill tram No.1. which has recently been taken to the T.H.S. where it joins Maori Hill No.3. on the waiting list. With help, all these cars could again be seen in Dunedin. 

Realistically, it is impossible for the T.H.S. to provide a complete fleet of restored Dunedin cable trams, so a paper and photographic trail record of every step and stage in the restoration of true heritage trams is being kept. This will be useable for any Dunedin based firm or group which undertakes the building up of the fleet to meet future requirements. An alternative might be to employ additional staff at the T.H.S. though space is very short there for additional rebuilds. 

HISTORIC ITEMS FOR MUSEUM DISPLAY
 
Two of the three metre diameter winding wheels like those used in the original Dunedin cable lines have been located and could feature in the museum. Finance is to be sought to bring them down from Wellington. Though possibly not useful for a modern winding system these huge steel wheels would provide a sculptural draw card outside or inside for a visit to the proposed museum. 

LINKS WITH SAN FRANCISCO CABLE CARS
 
This month Bill Campbell has held meetings with the directors of MUNI, the transport sector that runs cable car lines in San Francisco. We understand that cable car people there are enthusiastic to support the rebuilding of a High St line in Dunedin and willing to share how they went about the total rebuilding of their cable lines in the 1980’s. Bill’s report outlines his meeting with San Francisco cable trams’  Maintenance Superintendent Chris Hill and contains helpful data about safety features built into the S.F. system when it was completely renewed in the 1980’s. Chris played a big part in this, and is eager to provide whatever assistance he can to a rebuild of the Mornington cable car. 

AN ALTERNATIVE PROPOSAL
 
In March, another group publicised its interest in restoring a Stuart St cable car line to run, very ambitiously, from the Dunedin Railway Station right up to Roslyn and over to Nairn St in Kaikorai Valley. Some of the difficulties in this would be that Stuart St is a very busy arterial route, many curves would be involved around the Octagon, and State Highway 1 would have to be crossed at two points on the one way system. The expense of installing and maintaining this line would be much greater than the High St proposal. The Mayor has asked both groups to get together to discuss common ground as the City Council would be most unlikely to endorse two separate proposals. As it is, city traffic management engineers are as yet unsure about the viablility of any cable lines in the Dunedin, so this unfortunately this alternative proposal at this stage appears to be counter productive. 
 
THE HIGH ST GROUP’S PROPOSAL IN SHORT
 
The High St group Committee, and members of the City Council, however remain convinced about the positive effects for Dunedin of a restored cable car line. Not only would such a line express citizens’ pride in an important part of their heritage,  it would assist in the re-development of the former Exchange area, link with new hotels there, and provide a great attraction to help hold tourists longer in the city. The Taieri Gorge Railway management are especially supportive of our proposal from this point of view. A ride in a street cable car to great views over a very beautiful city and harbour would be unique in the Southern Hemisphere - a view enthusiastically endorsed by cruise ship passengers interviewed to date. 

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?
 
Understanding how carefully and politically the Steering Committee have to carry on their work, we who are interested in reinstating cable cars need to back them up by:

  • spreading support for the proposal by word of mouth and arguing the benefits for tourism.
  • explaining to younger people just what the cable cars were, their historic role in Dunedin, and what FUN they were.
  • writing letters to the paper in general terms of the benefits to Dunedin, particularly Princes St, of a restored High St cable car line.
  • not suggesting the Stadium idea be scrapped in favour of cable cars as this could alienate some of those on whose resources we may have to call in the future. And people attending a big Stadium event in Dunedin might also like to take a trip on a cable car!!!
  • talking to individuals and businesses who might be prepared to help with financing a High St cable line, while holding in mind that the first step is to ensure the city itself is behind the scheme.
  • Lending a hand with cable car vehicle restoration
 
THANK YOU TO ALL THE INTERESTED PEOPLE WHO HAVE SUPPORTED THE RETURN TO DUNEDIN OF A FEATURE OF THE CITY WHICH WOULD MAKE VISITING AND LIVING IN IT A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE OUTSIDE SAN FRANCISCO – A TRUE STREET CABLE CAR. 
 


NOVEMBER 2007 NEWS IN BRIEF
 
 

First and foremost there will be a meeting to formalise the Dunedin Cable Cars Reintroduction Group (better name pending) at 5.30pm on Friday 23rd November at the Otago Settlers.

Some points of interest extracted from the recent newsletter Don McAra sent to this group include:

  • A meeting between Richard Walls, Chris Staynes (both elected to DCC at the last elections), Bill Campbell, and Graeme Richardson, Trevor Craib, and Don McAra of the Tramway Historical Society (Chch) ended with the request from the DCC for a paper investigating the possibility of a heritage cable car line being rebuilt up High St. Some of the trams on this line would be hired from the THS.
  • The THS are to formally ratify the rental arrangement at a meeting on November 20th in Christchurch. Dave Hinman who has had experience in helping the Christchurch City Council to set up their heritage electric tramway is being asked to advise concerning the writing of the above paper.
  • Murray Bond of Taieri Gorge Rail has indicated a keen interest in the re-establishment of a tourist cable line up High St, and offers workshop facilities. Farra Engineering and Hillside workshops are keen to get contracts to help with the rebuilding.
  • Richard Walls says that finances may be available without having to ask rate payers to dig too deeply into their pockets. A trust may be the best way to go, later setting up a company to run the cable line.
  • There is no intention to undermine the Stadium project or the rebuilding of Carisbrook. The Cable Car line is not an alternative to these.
  • Friends of the High St Cable Car project are asked to network the idea around, show their copies of “Hold Very Tight Please!” to others, follow the suggestions on the Support Page on this website, write letters to the ODT and other newspapers supporting the idea, and not get sidetracked onto other schemes or tram ideas. One step at a time! The High St line has to have top priority. It is what would help make Dunedin not only the Heritage Capital of New Zealand, but also the San Francisco of the South.
  • The Rosslyn Gallery has been liquidated taking with it about $16000 which the gallery owes to Don McAra for paintings either sold or on layby.If you have cable car paintings on layby enquire what you should do from the liquidator Trevor Laing who will be at the Gallery between the 19th and 23rd of November. Deposits already paid will probably not be refundable. If Don McAra is allowed to resume ownership of his partly sold paintings he will honour the payments made and ensure purchasers get their chosen works once he has been paid the balance. The liquidator has been asked to consider allowing this.
  • According to Don McAra and other artists involved, the collapse of the Rosslyn Gallery is a loss to Dunedin and a case of very bad mismanagement on the part of the owner, Neville Emslie. Several thousand dollars are now not available for cable car restoration work and will have to be found elsewhere. We are not to be deterred by this!!!