Home Manufacturers Cash Balls Wire systems Pneumatic systems Locations References Patents

Locations - Queensland, Australia






The first cash railway was at Edwards and Chapman in Brisbane, November 1888.

ALLORA. Nobbys Stores. Closed in 1972 and cash railway salvaged by the Historical Society and put in store. "Now the former store has been bought by someone who wants to reopen it as a Collectibles shop, and has offered a large sum of money to buy back and install the cash railway." AMOL Working with Collections website

BRISBANE. Allan and Starks dept. store, Queens Street. Still operating in late 1960s. Cash carrier. Bub

BRISBANE. T.C.Beirne (dept. store), 315 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley. Building was constructed in stages from 1902. "We have pleasure in announcing to our many customers and friends that we have secured a complete equipment of this best of all cash systems for the whole of our premises, with the central operating room, or cash desk, located in the counting room, on the first lloor of our new building, from which radiate the tubes to all parts of our premises. We are the first firm in all Queensland to adopt this most modern system of handling cash and messages, and have pleasure in extending a cordial invitation to our many friends and wellwishers to call and inspect the working of this system for themselves." Brisbane Courier, 8 Jun. 1904, p.1
• "A novel arrangement of pneumatic tubes, through which cartridges are driven, is really the essence of the system recently installed by Mr. T.C.Beirne in his big Valley warehouse, but the system contains many points of interest. A 'Queenslander' reporter found his way to the Valley the other day, in company with two members of the Ipswich firm of Cribb and Foote, and with Mr. Potier, of Messrs. Potier Bros., Queensland representatives of the Lamson Store Service Company of London, otherwise known as the Pneumatic Tube Company. Upstairs on the second floor of the establishment, in a small corner, the tubes have their outlet, curving like the brass top of a fireman's helmet. In front of the tubes were two girls receiving, opening, and despatching the two classes of brass, felt-rimmed cartridges for cash or entry. Three tubes are used for two different counters: one tube brings up the cash from both counters, while the other two serve the cash desk. In the words of a scientific bystander, "It is a shifting current system of pneumatic tubes — a complete circuit of suction," which is summed up in the information that the cartridges move at the rate of 30ft. a second. While the visitors watched, a trial was made of the No. 1 counter, furthest from the receiving desk. A cartridge was sucked from the cashdesk, disappeared, and in ten and a-half seconds it reappeared. Formerly, when there was some doubt as to whether a customer had an account with the firm, search had to be made. Now, the query is quietly sucked up the tube, and often before the parcels are tied up the reply has dropped back. In case a cartridge gets blocked, the current in the tube is shut off, and then, by means of an indiarubber tube, the current is reversed and the cartridge comes back. The speed upstairs was tested both with empty cartridges and with one containing money. One of the empty cartridges took over a minute to return, the next about twenty seconds, and the one with money about thirty seconds. One of the Ipswich visitors, who tested a tube with an empty cartridge, stated that the latter went up and returned in seven and a-half seconds." Queenslander (Brisbane) 25 June 1904, p.34.
• "A passing visit should be paid to the old eight-horse power Crossley engine which for several years has done good service working the pneumatic tube cash railway. This engine has to some extent been superseded by a large power station." Roscommon Messenger, 18 Oct. 1910, p. 8. Address is given as Ann Street/Duncan Street
• "Founded by catholic grocer Thomas Beirnes who manned the floors keeping an eye on things right to the last." Bub
• Acquired by David Jones in 1961 and rebadged in 1966. Closed in January 1973.

BRISBANE. Curzons small dept. store, where Lennons Hotel was. Cash carrier. Bub

BRISBANE. David Jones, 196 Queen Street. New premises erected 1909-10. "The building featured .. pneumatic tubes for exchanging cash." Queensland Government Environment and Resource website. "Cullinanes's had those tubes. Actually, the original David Jones (big department store) in Brisbane had them last time I looked." (B.Christian in posting to alt.sixtyplus, 11/2/02)

BRISBANE. Edwards and Chapman, Queen Street. "Messrs. Edwards and Chapman, of Queen-street, have just had fitted up in their shop a ' cash railway'—an invention by means of which the assistants can send the money taken over the counter to the cashier and receive change without leaving their posts. This system, which was patented in the United States, has been in use in the leading business houses of Melbourne, Sydney, and Adelaide for some time past, and was introduced by Mr. E. Rowlands, aerated water and cordial manufacturer, of Melbourne and Ballarat, who bought the patent rights for the Australian colonies. During a recent visit to Melbourne Mr. Chapman, while visiting the leading drapery establishments in that city, had an opportunity of seeing the cash railway at work, and he decided to have one fitted up in the firm's premises in Brisbane. THe work of erecting the railway was performed by Messrs. P. Fleming and Son, of Albert-street, and superintended by E.G. Emery, Mr. Rowland's manager. The work was completed on Friday last, and the new system was successfully brought into operation at noon on Saturday.
The railway consists of a "terminus," which is fixed over the cashier's desks, and which is suspended from the ceiling and held firmly in position by sixteen steel wires about one-sixteenth of an inch in diameter, which radiate horizontally from the terminus in direct lines to as many stations fixed over the heads the clerks. The wire, although thin, is immensely strong, and has been tested up to a strain of half a ton.
The cash carriers which run on those wires consist of two small grooved wheels about the size of half-a-crown, from which is suspended a circular wooden cash-box with a nickel plated lid in which is a spring permitting the easy removal of the box. The carriers are set in motion by a kind of caterpult [sic] fixed in suitable positions, and operated by means of a cord. As soon as the cord is pulled down to a certain point the carrier is shot on its journey to the cashier, who, on hearing the click notifying its arrival, takes off the box, stamps the bill, wraps up the change, replaces it in the box, and shoots it off again whence it came. There is also a wire communicating with the accountant's office, so that the cashier may send in the cash received."Brisbane Courier, 27 Nov. 1888, p.6
• "1888, November 26. First 'cash railway' in Queensland introduced by Edwards and Chapman." Pugh's Almanac and Queensland Directory for 1889. (Brisbane: Gordon & Gotch, 1889), p.83

BRISBANE. Edwards and Lamb. "Small old-fashioned one-level store with passage-way down the middle." Cash carrier. Bub

BRISBANE. Finney Isles & Co. (large upmarket dept store), corner of Adelaide and Edward Streets. 'Big Block' store opened in 1910 with "pneumatic tubes for exhanging cash" powered by its own generator. Purchased by David Jones in 1955. Fashion Archives website with photograph of 1910 showing a terminal.
Wire system, removed when store was sold and revamped in 1960s. Bub

BRISBANE. MacDonald and Easts dept. store, corner of Tank and Roma Street. Cash carrier. Three storey building plus basement cafeteria. In operation in mid-1980s but now demolished awaiting redevelopment. Bub

BRISBANE, McWhirters dept. store, Fortitude Valley, bounded by Brunswick, Wickham and Warner Streets. "McWhirters store was erected in four stages on land acquired between 1899 and 1929, by Brisbane draper, James McWhirter... McWhirters was the most modern and progressive of department stores with .. a pneumatic cash tube system which was the largest in the state. In 1955 McWhirters was purchased by Myers, a Melbourne-based department store chain, which continued to operate the former McWhirters complex as a department store until 1988... In 1989 the property was redeveloped as McWhirters Marketplace." Photograph of exterior on Flickr

BRISBANE. Overells. Fortitude Valley, opposite McWhirters. Cash carrier. Bub

BRISBANE. Palings music store, Queen Street. Wire system disappeared in 1970s. Shop lasted until 1990s. Bub

BRISBANE. Red Arcade. "Russell Wilkins ... settled at Irvinebank on Fairfield Road in 1892. He established the Red Arcade selling toys and fancy goods, complete with a novel cash tramway, worked by electric motor, carrying documents for scrutiny or change to customers." BRISbites website. This is presumably the firm involved in the case of Lamson Store Service Co. v. Russell Wilkins & Sons Ltd., 1906

BRISBANE. Trittons quality furniture, George Street through to North Quay. Cash carrier. Demolished in early 1970s and now the site of Queensland Law Courts. Bub

BRISBANE. Uhl's saddlery, Queen Street. Rapid Wire system operating in 1976. Lamson Solutions 1898-1998

CAIRNS. R.H.Kelly's, shoe retailers, Abbott Street. Pneumatic system in 1960s. Bob Norman of Cairns

starCAIRNS. Harris Brothers, mercers and drapers, Abbot Street. Wire system. Moved to new store in Mulgrave Road - wire system is now a static display. Bob Norman of Cairns

CHARTERS TOWERS. Stan Pollard's Store, Gill Street. Installed by Pollard in 1934, when he purchased the Daking-Smith building. Queensland Book of Memories.
• "Until recently Stan Pollards Store still had a flying fox for cash transactions... This extraordinary device was a common feature of large country stores until the 1950s. The flying fox has been removed to the Zara Clark Museum. It is hoped that it will be reinstated so it can be demonstrated." Walkabout website.
• Photograph of Stan Pollard operating the Rapid Wire system in Australian Book of Memories


starDALBY. Millinery shop, opposite Westpac Bank. "Still has the cash railway, used to carry cash from one side of the shop to the other." (Dalby website)

starGAYNDAH. Mellor's(drapery) 28 Capper Street. Gipe system. "This shop in Gayndah is still using a money handling system from the 1920s. It's the last shop in Queensland to still use a 'flying fox' change dispenser... 'This building was built in 1922, after the original one was burnt down in 1921,' shopkeeper Marianne Hodgson explains. 'The only thing to survive the fire was the flying fox.'" Photographs. ABC Wide Bay website
• Connecting the service areas on the easterly and westerly sides of the store with an elevated cash desk is a suspended wire system. The cash desk is located on the central axis near the rear of the store. An ornate metal and timber flying fox transports change between the service areas and the cash desk via this system of taut wires. Queensland Department of Environment website
• Haberdashery since 1954. On the market since 2011 and listed for $180,000 with flying fox included. Photographs on Commercial Real Estate website



MARYBOROUGH. Stuparts. "Every few weeks we'd drive to Maryborough for groceries... One of the shops, Stuparts, had ... a flying fox for taking the bill and the cash from the counter to the cashier up on the next floor. It consisted of a cable with a container attached... There would be a ting and the contained would fly up the cable... I wanted one at home so tried to make it but was never successful." Marjorie Abell. Midge. (Xlibris, 2014) , p. 80

MOSSMAN. Jack & Newells. "In 1981, Jack & Newell's in Mossman was sold to the Cane Growers Co-operative. These days it operates as Mossman Home Hardware... Before the days of cash registers, Jack & Newell's cashier worked in the upstairs office, and staff at the retail counters would send cash and dockets up for processing via an old flying fox system... At Mossman, the cashier had three separate lines coming in, one each from the drapery, hardware and grocery sections of the store... Jack & Newell used this system at their Mareeba, Chillagoe and Herberton stores as well, but the practice was phased out during the 1950s... Unfortunately, none of the old Jack & Newell cash carriers still exist." Mareeba Historical Society website

MOUNT MORGAN. James Stewart & Co. Pty. Ltd. (dept. store). Cash railway introduced in 1897. Ledger entry for 2 August shows that cost was 225 pounds plus installation. Building and railway extended in 1904. Business continued to 1929. Building is now town museum and has a piece of a wire system which may have belonged to the store. R.Macfarlane

starROCKHAMPTON. James Stewart & Co. Pty. Ltd. (dept. store). Cash railway installed by about 1895. New building and extension to system added in 1898 - newspaper reports on 9 and 10 Dec. New building in 1928 with Lamson pneumatic tube system. 13 or 14 stations in 1950s. One station still in situ and working and other pipework visible. Terminals were "extremely elaborate with highly scrolled brass bodies - a work of art". R. Macfarlane
"On the completion of the fine building which now graces Stewart's corner block one thing was lacking, that was the installation of a suitable cash carrying system... This tube installation, carried out by the Lamson Store Service Co., is the most up-to-date in Queensland. The power unit of this system is a Lamson electrically driven turbine, rotating at the rate of 1500 revolutions per minute, and is the only one of its kind operating a tube service in the State. The assistant simply inserts money and docket in a brass container fitted with felt ends, places it in a tube which connects direct with the centre cash desk situated upstairs in the counting house. From the starting point the container .. is drawn by vacuum to the cash desk at the rate of from 30 to 40 feet per second, the vacuum being governed by an automatic control which allots to each tube just sufficient air to convey each carrier to its destination." Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton) 19 Nov 1929, p.6
Photograph on State Library of Queensland blog "Shop interior at Rockhampton, Queensland 1910-1920" showing a Rapid Wire system may be of this store.

ROMA. Ace Drapers, 86 McDowell Street. "Formerly Hunter's Emporium, selling furniture, general drapery, clothing, ironmongery, groceries and other provisions... The current building was constructed in 1916 after a fire... The new emporium had electric light, a cash railway, and everything needed to make it 'thoroughly modern'. Aussie Heritage website

TOOWOOMBA. Baileys, Rutheven Street. Wire system "possibly still in operation". Bub

TOWNSVILLE. Johns-Grant Quality Store. "Our Rapid Cash Carrier is now installed." Townsville Daily Bulletin, 22 July 1912, p.6

starWINTON. Corfield & Fitzmaurice, 63 Elderslie Street. "The Corfield and Fitzmaurice store is rare for the intactness of its interior space complete with many fittings such as shelves, display cabinets and counters for a traditional range of merchandise organised into departments. In particular the cash railway, or flying fox dispenser, is a rare example in situ of money handling technology of the early twentieth century... The current 1916 building is the latest in a succession of Corfield and Fitzmaurice stores on the same site which established the main street of Winton... A cash railway, known as a 'flying fox', for transporting cash and receipts between the counter and a central timber office raised to mezzanine level still survives." Queensland Environmental Protection Agency website.
Store closed in 1987 and reopened by community group in 1994. Queensland Holidays website. Photograph at Boulder Opal Motor Inn website.



starBOONAH. Templin Historical Village. Cash carrier. Postcards website

starCHARTERS TOWERS. National Trust shop at Zara Clark Museum. From Pollards store - see above. Some carriages are replicas from Vivian Rush Specialty Engineering.

starMOUNT MORGAN. See above.


star indicates systems which are still there (as far as I know) though they may not be working.