The Dunedin Trams


The controversial name of David Proudfoot is central to Dunedin’s early transport systems. He ran a contracting business which built several railways and a tram service serving Dunedin’s suburbs, which began in 1879, and was mainly horse-drawn. He sold the system to the Dunedin City and Suburban Tramways Company in 1883.

The locomotives mentioned on this website were purchased by Proudfoot in 1879.  The experiment was not popular because the trams were described as ‘noisy, dirty, frightening to horses, and prone to derailment’. They were sold by his successors in 1884, to be used for hauling coal or timber. See below*

Electric trams ran from 23 October 1900 to 29 March 1956 and a cable-car system between 1881 and 1957.


Steam trams in most places had to conform to special rules because they operated on the public highway.

No easy access to the wheels or moving parts was allowed, and a “skirt” usually performed this safety function. The skirt also kept mud and dirt from the mechanism. No smoke or steam could be emitted: coke was used instead of coal and the steam was condensed. Kitson used a  system of copper tubing (not unlike a modern car radiator) in the cab roof.

SEE A video of a Kitson steam tram in action! Short but good.


SEE for an excellent illustration. The side cover is in the raised position. You may wish to click at the bottom of the MOTAT page!

*When the steam tram locomotives were sold off for industrial use the outer bodywork was removed as it was unnecessary and made maintenance more difficult. The cab roof contained the condenser, and this also went. The illustration of T53 shows that a tall replacement funnel was fitted, and the large whistle may have been an addition to be used for signalling in logging or quarry use.

A steam dome is also absent, though one can be seen on the Hull Tram (button below). However a large tube can be seen with the bottom end near the cylinder and the top at the regulator: presumably a steam pipe. Could there be some sort of superheater inside the top of the firebox? This would remove the need for a steam dome. Presumably this expedient did not prove a success, as T56 has a normal dome.

For more about the manufacturer SEE

In 1878 Wellington too acquired a service of steam-trams. SEE


The Hull Tram

Click this button to see the Kitson tram locomotive in Hull Museum

Home truck? mud wheels Kitson then now... photos tram! VIDEOS