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.
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
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
Lending a hand with cable car vehicle
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
- 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
- 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!!!