Plenty of positive cable-car stories to be told as well

Silvereyes gather menacingly in the trees of Belleknowes, waiting for the tui to leave the feeder in Judith and Tim Medlicott's garden. Alfred Hitchcock would have been pleased with this shot. Photo: Judith Medlicott
Silvereyes gather menacingly in the trees of Belleknowes, waiting for the tui to leave the feeder in Judith and Tim Medlicott's garden. Alfred Hitchcock would have been pleased with this shot. Photo: Judith Medlicott
Somebody remarked to me the other night that the stories in this column of the 1952 cable-car accident in lower High St were probably putting the mockers on Dunedin's ability to reintroduce the cars for tourists a few years down the track.

I was slightly irritated by that comment, especially as I totally support the efforts to bring cable-cars back and think the first-person pieces we've run of what happened that November 5 have been terrific. But I've taken the comment on the chin and will ensure the positive cable-car stories get more of a run from now on, while not ignoring an important part of the city's history.

''People magnet''

John Tempest says he has been following news of Dunedin's cable-car revival on various pages of the ODT.

''On Saturday I walked from the Dunedin Chinese Garden to the Exchange and had an idea. With the proposed harbour development, it would be great if the cable-car to Mornington could be extended to the Chinese Garden.

''This would provide a link from one tourist destination to another, although, of course, you would need an attraction in Mornington too.

''The cable-car in San Francisco has Fisherman's Wharf and it is a 'people magnet', having visited last year. It seems obvious to me we should have a transport museum near the Mornington terminus.''

That's a very good idea, John.

Sharon Alderson says the recent articles have brought back many memories.

''We lived in Glenpark Ave near the house owned by A H Reed, who we loved to visit and had all his books.

''I also remembered well the accident where the girls lost their legs, as they were pupils of High St School. I was 8 at the time and recall them coming back to school. The emphasis was not lost on us as to why we should never try to sit on the outside, which we all loved to do.

''After catching the cable-car or walking up to Mornington, we would then catch the Maryhill cable-car.

A shag rests on a log near Oamaru. Photo: Dororthy O'Donnell
A shag rests on a log near Oamaru. Photo: Dororthy O'Donnell
''If the car was at the top of Glenpark Ave, instead of waiting for it to come back, we would set off down the steps, past the Presbyterian Church at a run, and try to get up the steep hill at the other end before the cable-car got back to the depot.

''It was one way of keeping fit I suppose. We only caught it if it was waiting for us at either end.''

Mark Pettinger, who was brought up in Mornington, remembers the announcement that the cable-car service was to be withdrawn.

Balclutha gardens are bursting at the seams with tui, bellbirds and silvereyes. Photo ; Neville Ross
Balclutha gardens are bursting at the seams with tui, bellbirds and silvereyes. Photo ; Neville Ross
''The local barber, Ted Pitchers, organised a petition for their retention and collected hundreds of signatures. It was a big thing for Mornington residents, many having strong thoughts on the issue.

''Ted could see the benefits of keeping them going, as they were very reliable and safe.

''How right he was. With today's number of visitors, thousands from cruise ships alone, there would be queues from the Exchange halfway to the Octagon of tourists waiting for the ride. Cash would be rolling in to match all the other big tourist attractions of today.

''A car and trailer would arrive in the Exchange, leaving the trailer on the down line, while the tram went forward past the points before moving forward on the up line, to let the trailer get in behind and be recoupled. Meanwhile, all the passengers had scrambled aboard and, with two dings on the bell, were whisked off up High St at a brisk pace.

''From memory I think it took about seven minutes to reach the cable-car sheds in Mornington. Then on to the Mary Hill cable-car that just about launched every passenger into space as it started the downhill plunge.

''A child could get from town to Mornington for a penny and, if you asked to go right through, the conductor would not punch your ticket. Then when you boarded the Mary Hill cable-car, the grip man would punch the ticket. What great days they were back then.''

Feathered friends

Thanks for sending in your winter birds photographs. I have quite a few already to use.

Neville Ross, of Balclutha, says he feeds visiting birds a sugar-water mix.

''At the moment we have tui, bellbird and silvereyes visiting each day. They are going through three 700ml bottles of the feed daily.

''We have about 10 tui, four bellbirds and several silvereye that visit every day.''

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