Commuting by Cable: Driving the cable

Commuting by Cable: Driving the cable
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Historical footage shows the operation of Melbourne’s cable trams with voice-over explaining in detail how they were propelled by underground cable driven by steam boilers. The cable was in continuous rotation up to 18 hours a day. Summary by Damien Parer.

The documentary will fully satisfy the curiosity of the most dedicated transport enthusiast. It is a remarkably detailed account that is also useful as a history of Melbourne. The music used to recreate the period is also a delight.

Cable trams were operated by 'gripmen’ who used a device to lock onto the moving underground cable to propel the tram forward. The term 'grip’ was taken up by the film industry to describe the role of the person in the camera department who operated camera mounts such as dollies and cranes.


Commuting by Cable synopsis

Using historical footage this documentary records the story of cable trams in Melbourne from 1885 to 1940. Enthusiasts have recorded the tram routes and operation of the cable and maintenance of the cable system.

Notes by Damien Parer


Production company:
Association of Railway Enthusiasts
Rod Cook
Peter Henshaw