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Nelson Historical Society Journal, Volume 1, Issue 6, March 1964

Ceased Operations

Ceased Operations.

In 1865, the Dun Mountain Mining Company ceased operations after expending £72,000. On March 23rd, 1872, 10 years after the opening of the Dun line, the assets of the Dun Mountain Copper Mining Company were advertised for sale in "The Examiner" and comprised the following items: 3390 acres of land; 13½ miles of railway rails at 30lb., about 633 tons in all; 11-roomed house in Nelson; seven other houses along the line; a railway house let at £3/10/- a week; 45 railway trucks, etc.

On May 18th, 1872, "The Examiner" announced that the whole of the above assets had been sold to Mr. R. Levien for £4750. Mrs. Ruth Allen's "History of Port Nelson" records, "the last remnant of the Dun Mountain railway, continued in operation until 1901, was the old one-horse tram that ran westwards along Hardy Street from Trafalgar Street by way of Rutherford Street and Haven road, to the Tasman Hotel at the Port."

Although Lock's history of the Nelson City Council notes that the city fathers in 1883 complained that this ancient conveyance was "the most unsightly and dangerous thing of its sort in the colony," it faithfully ran a half-hourly trip to the Port against the more stylish three-horse Palace-cars starting from the Masonic Hotel across Trafalgar Street, and there was even a second tram which was put into service on special occasions, with a passing loop outside the Theatre Royal to prevent traffic congestion. Both trams, however, had primitive seating accommodation on the roof as well as inside.

It was not until a year and ten months after the opening of the Dun line that New Zealand's first steam railway began operations on December 1, 1863, with the opening of the Christchurch-Lyttleton line. About ten years later the Colonial Government had its own first section of railway opened, that from Auckland to Onehunga.

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The opening of the Dun line 100 years ago was a small thing in itself, but it was, nevertheless, a focal point and driving force from which railway construction started in New Zealand. It created a "railway consciousness" and established a basis of costs for railway construction.