Saturday, August 18, 2012

Queen and Wellesley Streets, c.1904

I'm still not a total fan of colourised postcards, but I must admit this one I bought recently is quite pretty. That it headed from Mt Roskill back in 1904, went across the seas to Ireland, and somehow made its way back here again is interesting enough.

This view of Queen and Wellesley Street, looking up to the Art Gallery building (then the Auckland Public Library) has completely and utterly altered today in terms of the buildings -- except for the Art Gallery Building.

 Reference 4-315, 1890s, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Library

Back in the 1890s, before the coming of electric trams, horse-drawn tram tracks were the ones snaking their way from the intersection.

Some of the detail from the 1904 card.

 Reference 4-682, 1880s, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Library

According to Graham Stewart in his book The End of the Penny Section, double-truck, double-decker trams were introduced in Auckland in 1902, the first year of the electric tramways here. Their story is a somewhat controversial one. Christmas Eve 1903, No. 39 ran back down the New North Road from Charlotte Street nearly to Kingsland shops and collided with another tram. The accident killed three passengers and injured dozens -- I hope to post about the incident soon. The first of the fatalities was that of a young woman struck in the back of the head by the pole as she tried, with others, to get down from the upper deck before the collision. Early in 1904, in the wake of the accident, double-deckers were taken off the lines, but reintroduced soon afterward, photographed conveying crowds to and from sporting events and racedays.

The upper decks were stripped from the fleet in 1923, and the de-decked remainder retained until they were withdrawn in 1948.

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