Early Transport of goods
1908 Transporting wool from Mt Pisa Station to Clyde Railway Station. Photos Supplied

Transport of Goods.

In the 1800’s before the railway came to Central Otago, all goods needed to build houses, machinery, food supplies, clothing etc had to be transported by horse and cart, and, for larger heavier loads, by teams of bullocks pulling large wagons. It often took many days to get goods from Dunedin to Cromwell. 

In 1921 the rail line reached Cromwell it was possible to get goods from Dunedin to Cromwell in less than a day. Cromwell became the “railhead” for the wider district. Once the goods arrived at the Station, they needed to be transported to outlying districts, towns, farms, and businesses in the wider Upper Clutha area.  Likewise, goods from these areas had to be brought to the Cromwell railway station to be sent to markets.  Businesses were set up to do this using horse and carts or bullock teams. Later when trucks were developed and improved, and the roads upgraded, fleets of trucks took over. 

Many of these original businesses have amalgamated, others have faded into history, some have been renamed.  For example, Mc Donalds Transport started by Bill McDonald using horses, has had a number of owners. In the 1970’s when owned by Jack and Lester Scott it was rebranded as Cromwell Transport (CROMTRANS).

 McNulty’s Transport can trace its origins back over 140 years to the 1870’s.  Brian, a great-great grandson of the founder, Tom McNulty, is the current Managing Director. Francis (known as Frank) McNulty Snr took over the business in in 1911 his after Father Tom was drowned in the Kawarau River. Frank modernised by buying an International truck in 1925. Frank added a Chev to the fleet in 1934. Other makes followed. His son, also Francis (known as Frankie) took over the business in 1962. My memories of the 1950’s and 60’s during the fruit season, Frank or Frankie McNulty would arrive at our orchard each day at 3 pm precisely to collect the days fruit pack. The fruit was taken to the Cromwell railway station for transport to auction rooms in Dunedin and places further afield.

It is interesting to note that for many years transporting of goods over distances greater than 80 km, had to be done by rail. One of the few exceptions was sheep or cattle.

For more about McNulty Transport see the November 2021 edition of “New Zealand Trucking”.

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