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September 7, 2019

Vintage Photos of Horse Drawn Omnibus in Australia From Between the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries

In the 1880s Sydney’s main streets were laid with durable hardwood blocks. The city was filled with the sound of steel-tyred buses and other vehicles rumbling over these blocks, accompanied by the clip clopping of countless horses’ hooves.

The horse bus was usually hauled by two horses. At peak times, or up steeper hills like William Street to Kings Cross, four horses were used. Upstairs seats, reached by a vertical ladder, were the domain of male passengers until the advent of a ‘safety stairway’ in about 1890 allowed women to enjoy the freedom of upper deck travel.

The bus was operated by the Sydney Tramway & Omnibus Company, the city’s largest omnibus company, which serviced most of the eastern suburbs. Signage on the bus indicates that the fare for the Macquarie Place to Woollahra route was two pence or ‘tuppence’ each way. The plodding pace of the horse buses, the increasing cost of feed, and the intense competition from cable and electric trams, brought the horse bus era in Australia to an end by about 1910.

Horse drawn Manly tram, 1894.

A horse bus outside Redfern railway station in Sydney, 1895.

Horse buses outside the old Sydney Railway Station, corner of Devonshire and George streets, 1895.

Horse drawn omnibus from the privately runned Sydney Tramway and Omnibus Company in Sydney, 1897.

Horse-drawn omnibus in Sidney, Australia, 1898.

Horse drawn omnibus, Circular Quay, 1900.

Brisbane Bus Company horse-drawn passenger vehicle traveling to Woolloongabba, Stanley Bridge and Coorparoo, 1904.

Horse drawn omnibus to Narrabeen/Rock Lily with beachgoers in foreground at Manly, 1905.

The visiting Great White Fleet arriving in Sydney Harbour and the celebrations that Manly engaged in as part of this, 1908.

Melbourne Tramway and Omnibus Company horse tram and workers at Auburn and Riversdale Road depot, 1910.

A horse drawn omnibus, Muswell Hill, 1910.

Melbourne Tramway and Omnibus Company horse tram No 43, Royal Park Zoo service, with driver Mr Richardson of West Brunswick, 1915.


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