No Cars Allowed on Frankton Road
A far cry from today, this is Frankton Road in about 1906, about the time when the first motor vehicles arrived in the district. If the County Councillors of the day had had their way, it would still look like this, complete with horses and carts.
Mrs Williams driving on Frankton Road in about 1900 (Courtesy of Lakes District Museum, Arrowtown)
The County Councillors decided to ban the noisy, dangerous motors from this and some other county roads. Drivers were expected to park their cars and walk, cycle or use horses. Naturally, the proud car- owners resented the by-law. Why have a car it you couldn’t drive it to town? Solutions: Some owners hitched the car to a horse to be pulled between Frankton to Queenstown, and others simply disobeyed, as people do when they consider the law is an ass.
There were consequences. In 1915, Mr R. M. Paterson was fined £1 with costs of £6 12s 9d for breaching the by-law. Later that year Mr J.A.P. McBride, who had been persistently defiant, was defended in court by Mr. H. J. Macalister. He pointed out that the defendant’s home at Frankton was four and a half miles from Queenstown, while the alternative route via Arthurs Point was seventeen miles. He contended that Frankton Road was not dangerous, whereas the Arthur’s Point road was.There were also legal arguments about whether the by-law was even valid.
Then in late 1915, 29 lawbreakers were charged. Inevitably the councillors had to give in before the force of public opinion, and they allowed cars on Frankton Road. From then on, visitors could then arrive via Frankton in private cars and service cars such as the Mt Cook Company one seen here in about 1920. Tourism thrived.
Courtesy of Lakes District Museum
Restrictions did however remain on some other roads, with the Skippers Rd not being fully open to motor vehicles until 1926. Rental car companies still set their own rules on that one.
Maybe soon we’ll have a park-and- ride at Frankton to reduce the traffic – not as a return to the old days but as a solution to current and future congestion.
A final thought: What a pity that the photographer of the postcard above didn’t take his shot when there was a vintage car in view being pulled by a horse.
Wakatipu’s Golden Days by A.J. De La Mare, Lakes District Museum, 2000
Golden Days of Lake County by F.W.G.Miller, Whitcombe & Tombs 1946
For more information visit: www.queenstownhistoricalsociety.org.nz