Focus on glories of past

Some of the glories of Dunedin's engineering heritage will be highlighted at a transtasman conference being hosted in the city this weekend.

Among engineering treasures some of the 120 people attending the engineering heritage conference will be able to examine are recently discovered plans of the city's Mornington cable car system, which began operating in 1883.

These plans and other records of the Reid and Duncan civil engineering firm were recently donated anonymously to the Hocken Library, after being found in an old building owned by the donor.

The overall Dunedin cable tramway system was laid out by a Yorkshire-born Dunedin senior engineer and surveyor, George Duncan, who had earlier seen cable cars operating in San Francisco.

Mr Duncan is regarded as the "father" of cable car systems in New Zealand and Australia and is highly regarded for his later design of the Melbourne Tramway system.

Conference organising committee chairman John Henderson said this was the first time an Australasian Engineering Heritage Conference had been held in Dunedin.

The event starts at Salmond College tomorrow.

More than 80 participants at the four-day event were from outside Dunedin, including about 30 from Australia.

The conference's main speaker is Sir Neil Cossons, former head of English Heritage and patron of the Dunedin Gasworks Museum Trust.

Engineering heritage-related displays are being staged at the Hocken Library, the Otago Settlers Museum, the Otago Museum and the National Archives Dunedin office.

The recently-discovered Dunedin cable car plans are not on display at the Hocken but can be viewed on request.


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