Cable cars ready to roll

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The next stage . . . Dunedin Heritage Light Rail Trust chairman Neville Jemmett (left) and member Stuart Payne, both of Dunedin, display an artist's impression of a proposed $8million cable car house and museum building in Mornington Park. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

Bagpipes and tram bells will sound as an $8million stage to return a cable car service to Dunedin is launched on Saturday.

Dunedin Heritage Light Rail Trust chairman Neville Jemmett said when the Mornington cable car system closed on a Saturday in 1957, a bagpiper played as the final cable car – carrying about 250 passengers – departed The Exchange for its final stop at Cable Car House in Mornington.

The piper played as the door on the tram shed was rolled down for the final time.

Another piper would play at the official opening of the trust’s new tram shed in Mornington Park at about 10am on Saturday.

When the roller doors on the new house are opened, two restored cable cars – Roslyn number 95 and Mornington trailer 111 – would roll out to the sound of ringing bells and bagpipes.

A fleet of classic cars, manufactured in the 1940s and 1950s, would line the street.

People dressed in clothing inspired by the Victorian era – the time when the first Dunedin cable car line opened, in 1881 – would be enjoying a high tea at the ceremony.

“It will feel like it used to be.”

The event would signal the completion of the first stage of the project – the leasing of land in Mornington Park and the construction of a building to display two restored cable cars.

The second stage of the project – to construct a bigger tram shed complex on the same site – would be launched on Saturday.

The proposed two-storey building would have capacity to house at least six cable cars, a museum, changing rooms for a soccer club and include a cafe on its second floor.

The building was expected to cost $8million and a fundraising campaign would be launched on Saturday.

The third stage of the project would be installing cable car lines from Mornington down High St to the Exchange and to reopen a street cable car service.

The fourth and final stage would be the installing the finishing touches, such as tram stops along the route.

The Health Minister and Dunedin North MP Dr David Clark and Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull would open the new cable car house on Saturday.

Tramway Historical Society member Don McAra, of Christchurch, would talk about the society’s work of restoring cable cars.

The cable car and trailer in the tram shed in Mornington were restored in the society’s workshops in Christchurch by volunteers.

Another Mornington cable car – number 103 – was being rebuilt in the society’s workshops to operating standard and would return to Mornington when the restoration was complete.

A book on the Mornington cable cars Mornington’s Marvellous Cable Trams would be launched at the event.

Mr Jemmett said he was certain the proposed plan to return a cable car service to Dunedin would become a reality.

“It definitely will.”