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David Proudfoot (c1838-1891)

The man who built Dunedin's first railway line and tram lines

David ProudfootDavid Proudfoot was an argumentative character who was always falling out with his business partners. He was also unpopular with his workers because he was often late in paying them. But he was also an enterprising character, responsible for some of Dunedin's major nineteenth century public works achievements. Proudfoot's main connections with the southern Dunedin suburbs were in transport. The first thing he did was to build a private railway line from Andersons Bay to St Kilda and St Clair. He had already built the main line from Port Chalmers to Dunedin and then sold it to the government to run in 1873. He hoped that the same would happen with the new line. This did not happen and the line was never really profitable. Undeterred Proudfoot then moved on to trams. It was Proudfoot who developed the first Dunedin tramways, including in 1880 the horse trams to Caversham, St Kilda and St Clair. He left Dunedin for Australia in the economic slump of the 1880s and was bankrupted in 1885. He died in Sydney in 1891.

(Photograph, Otago Settlers Museum Collection)

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