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Transport: Major Changes

The streets of southern Dunedin began as no more than muddy tracks through the swamp. For long periods in the winter these roads were impassable. It was not until the 1870s that the major roads were metalled. By 1885 the main streets had been upgraded to packed metal, with stone kerbs and cobbled gutters. Secondary streets were surfaced with loose gravel but the lesser streets were still just plain mud. Gradually these surfaces were improved, footpaths were formed and street lighting added.

The first half of the twentieth century was a time of major technological development in transport. New vehicle types including bicycles and motorbikes, cars and trucks were developed. Trams were already well established across 'the Flat'. These new forms of transport shared the roads with pedestrians and a whole range of horse-drawn vehicles. In fact, there was a wider range of vehicle types to be seen on southern Dunedin streets then than at any time before or since.

RockysideA view west across Caversham Valley to the area later known as Rockyside, probably in the late 1860s, shows the existing primitive roads. The simple wooden cottages with their corrugated iron roofs and the abundant land, are obvious. The first hotel in Caversham (The Edinburgh Castle) is in the centre. It lost its license in 1894 after the 1893 poll saw a majority of votes for reduction of hotel licences. (Otago Settlers Museum Collection)

Ogg's CornerThe intersection of the main road to St Kilda (then called Hillside Road) and the road to Forbury Corner (then called Cargill Road) was one of Dunedin's busiest. It was long called Ogg's Corner, after John Ogg, publican of the Railway Hotel on its south-western corner. Standing here on any busy morning between 1890 and 1940 you could expect to see every imaginable form of road transport being used in addition to large numbers of people passing through the corner on foot. This 1904 photograph shows Ogg's Corner looking down Cargill Road (the present Prince Edward Street) towards St Kilda. Ogg's Railway Hotel is on the right of the intersection and the building which now houses Tait's Fabric Centre is on the left. The double tram lines turn right into Hillside Road running past the Hillside Workshops to Forbury Corner before continuing along Forbury Road to St. Clair. (Hocken Library - Uare Taoka O Hakena, University of Otago)

College St CornerThe tram leads up the Main South Road to the Caversham terminus (opposite Morrison and Sydney Streets) in this 1913 Muir and Moodie photograph. Rushworth's confectionary shop, on the College St Corner, was a great favourite with the school children. The old Caversham hall is on the right side of the road. (Hocken Library - Uare Taoka O Hakena, University of Otago)

Hillside RoadCargill Road (now Hillside) marked the boundary between Caversham, on the right, and South Dunedin on the left. The horse-drawn tram from the city to St Clair had operated since 1880 but electrification in 1905, the double track, and the extension to Caversham township was completed in 1905 following amalgamation. The view is towards Forbury Corner and the southern ridge where it drops into the Playfair Street gully. St Peter's Anglican Church is on the right. (Hocken Library - Uare Taoka O Hakena, University of Otago)

Boys in carsThe rise of the car saw a renewed male dominance of family transport arrangements, which the easy access to trams had undermined in the early part of the century. Women seldom got to drive the first family-owned cars. Cars were slow to take hold in any case - they were too expensive for most residents of the southern Dunedin suburbs. Not until 1928 were there enough cars for the first service station to open (at the corner of King Edward and Bridgman Streets). But as the numbers of private cars increased, the public tramway system steadily declined. (Wilfred McIndoe and Norris Orchard outside 5 Helena Street, South Dunedin in the 1930s. Otago Settlers Museum Collection)

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