Trust sets target for cable car project

Don McAra (left) and Pim Sanderson, both of the Tramway Historical Society of Ferrymead in...
Don McAra (left) and Pim Sanderson, both of the Tramway Historical Society of Ferrymead in Christchurch, pose with Lord Nelson — otherwise known as Mornington No111 — which will be on display in Dunedin later this year. Photo: supplied.
Dunedin's High St could again be bustling with cable cars within the next decade, as the Dunedin Heritage Light Rail Trust increases its efforts to re-establish the Mornington cable car line.

Trust spokesman Neville Jemmett said the first stage of the four-stage project would result in a temporary cable car museum being constructed in Mornington Park before Christmas this year.

The $3 million, 62sq m facility would house three former Dunedin cable cars - Mornington No 111, Roslyn No 95 and the unrestored Roslyn No 97.

"The idea is that people can come and see what they look like before they’ve been restored, and what they look like after they’ve been restored."

Mr Jemmett said rails would extend outside the museum so a cable car could be rolled out for tourists to board and take pictures of themselves without it being jammed inside a building.

It was hoped money raised from the attraction would help fund the other three stages of the project, which are aimed at re-establishing the Mornington cable car line.

He said the trust planned to demolish the old toilets and changing rooms in Mornington Park and build a  cable car terminus complete with rope motor and storage space for the cable cars, so the city could have a working cable car line running up and down High St. The terminus would include a second storey, which would act as a museum and provide great views of the city for tourists.

"The cost of the project has come down because we’re not going to be building new cable cars now. We’re going to lease restored ones.

"It’s still going to be into the twenty millions, but it’s definitely doable.

"We will need 1.5km of tracks going up High St and 1.5km going down, and if we work out a costing of the tracks, people could buy them - people could buy a piece of track to support the project. It’s things like that that will bring the cost down again."

It was hoped the four stages of the project would be complete within the next decade, he said.

"All the people that know all about cable cars have got to be in their mid-70s at the moment. So we don’t want to leave it until they’re in their mid-80s - they might not make it.

"We know what we’ve got to do. All we’ve got to do is get enough money to make it happen. It will be one of the biggest tourist attractions Dunedin will ever see, I reckon."

The Mornington No111 cable car, also known as Lord Nelson, won the Australasian Supreme Award at the Council of Tramway Museums of Australasia conference in Christchurch earlier this month.

Lord Nelson plied the High St route until 1957, when the line was decommissioned. It then became a sleepout at an Outram home before being donated to the Tramway Historical Society of Ferrymead in Christchurch, where it was restored to its award-winning condition.

Comments

I have long ago memories of travelling this line as a child; remember there was a very steep hill near the top, it had a name I don't remember.
It was always a mystery why the cable cars were closed down, after all people travel to San Francisco just to ride them.
Well done, Dunedin Heritage Light Rail!!