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Locations - Victoria, Australia



Elsternwick, Hattams

Footscray, Forges


ALEXANDRA. Payne and Whitworths. "During the week we made an inspection of Messrs Payne and Whitworth's store, Alexandra, where some of the latest improvements in business convenience have been installed. The first item to strike our notice was the "Rapid Cash Railway" erected by the Lamson Store Company, Melbourne." Alexandra and Yea Standard, 4 Oct. 1912, p.3

ASCOT VALE. Moncur menswear, Union Road. Wire system. Closed around 2000.

ASHBURTON. Mitchell and Turner. "We understand from the replace advertisement of Messrs Mitchell and Turner that they intend installing in their premises a mechanical cash carrier. As this, although much used in larger centres, will be quite an advance in the business methods of Ashburton, we trust that continued success will follow such a progressive spirit." Ashburton Guardian, 21 Mar. 1905, p.2

BALLARAT. Co-op, Bridge Street. Wire system. On the high wire

BALLARAT. Crockers (drapers), Armstrong Street. Wire system. Business moved into the former Carpet Department premises in 1989. On the high wire

BALLARAT. Pratts, Main Street. Wire system. On the high wire

BALLARAT. Snows (drapers) Armstrong/Sturt Street. Wire system Now Myers. On the high wire

BENDIGO. Beehive Store, Pall Mall. "My memories were during the 40's, 50's and sixties. It was a rather old fashioned store with wooden floors and one of those devices that sent your money in carriers along overhead wires to the cashier for change." Rosemary Meadows in posting to AUS-VIC-GOLDFIELDS-L List, 15 May 2005
• "The Bendigo Beehive store ceased trading during the 1980's.  It was never modernised at any time during it's operating days. The produce was displayed as it would have been tens of years before. The floors all squeaked, the merchandising material was antiquated but the service and  products were excellent. The money was sent via a vacuum cylinder which was connected through the ceiling which went directly to the main office. It was not that the staff were not trusted, I don't think - mainly so the staff did not waist [sic] time off the floor, which meant the service would not be met, "Are You Being Served?" tradition." Raine in posting to AUS-VIC-GOLDFIELDS-L List, 17 May 2005.

DROUIN. Bell and Macaulays. Wire system approx. 1944. (Photographs of hardware and grocery sections in National Library Digital Collection)

GEELONG. Bright and Hitchcocks (dept store), Moorabool Street. Pneumatic tube system. Walking Melbourne website

GEELONG. Isings (haberdashers), Moorabool Street. "Had a wire system until the 1970s." Walking Melbourne website

GIPPSLAND. W.D.Leslie & Co. "Leslie was the first Gippsland businessman to organise his store into departments, each operating under a manager, with sales transactions being sped on overhead wires to the centrally located cashier." Australian Dictionary of Biography

starMELBOURNE. M.Ball & Co. (drapers), 240 Swan Street, Richmond. 100-year old building, occupied by Balls for more than 50 years. Entered a hire purchase agreement with Lamsons on 23 September 1936 for a wire system, but a drawing was also produced for a pneumatic tube system. Miles Lewis, Australian building
• "Melancholy, though, is the news that there are no more parts for the wire catapult system that takes the sales dockets and money in those little brass containers overhead to the cashier high up in the corner. We counted the wires and found almost a dozen. Of those, only about three or four were still operating." The Age, 16 Feb. 1982, p. 11
• "A man, presumably the manager, demonstrating the 'flying fox' wire cash receipt system. Victoria State Library Pictures Catalogue. Operated from 1936 to 1985 and relocated soon afterwards to Dimneys - see below. Miles Lewis, Australian building. Photograph showing about 10 Rapid Wire lines at Miles Lewis website

MELBOURNE. M.Ball & Co. Glenferrie Road, Malvern. Overhead cash carrier. Probably went in mid to late 1960s. Kevin Taig in Trams Down Under Archive, 26/12/05

MELBOURNE. F.W. Cheshire (bookshop), in the basement of 338 Little Collins Street. "Until the late 1960s, also had a wire 'cash railway'. Due to the relatively low ceiling, taller people had to be careful of the cash canister as it whizzed at great speed to and from the central cash desk." Walking Melbourne website

MELBOURNE. Forges (dept. store), 80-90 Nicholson Street, Footscray. Lamson pneumatic tube system. Some parts displayed in window when I visited, Sept. 2004: inlet and outlet of a station painted light brown, four carriers on table and two in a wire basket. Carriers numbered 23, 29 and 30 (some alterations) . Photographs

MELBOURNE. Foy and Gibson, Collingwood. "Messrs Foy and Gibson, of Collingwood, have an apparatus in their establishment with no less than 64 stations, and the cash run through this - mostly in small sums - during three days of one of their fairs amounted to £10,000." Otago Witness, 16 May 1889, p. 15

starMELBOURNE. Hattam Stores, 383 Glenhuntly Road, Elsternwick. "The old Cash Railway they still have working there" Diary of an average Australian, 1/9/97. Photographs at Miles Lewis website. Video on YouTube

MELBOURNE. Hoopers, Brunswick. The "Detroit Cash railway" was operating from 1908, but the Lamson systems seemed to dominate the local market. Footscray Advertiser, Mar. 1908

MELBOURNE. London Stores (merger of the London Tailoring Depot and the States Supply Stores) , 343-357 Bourke Street. "Grand opening in four days... Distinctive features of the store... Electric Cash Cable System." The Age, 7 May 1906, p. 2

MELBOURNE. McPhersons, 546 Collins Street. "We require an experienced girl for our pneumatic tube system." Argus, 4 Dec. 1951, p.16

MELBOURNE. Melville and Mullen, 262 Collins Street. "Auction to-day... Ball race cash carrier." Argus, 27 Jan. 1922, p.6

starMELBOURNE. Meyers (dept store) 314-336 Bourke Street. Pneumatic tube system. Many tubes remaining in the basement ceiling - about 30 in parallel in one corner - when I visited in Sept. 2004.. Also prominent in level 2 ceiling - some cut off. No stations visible.
"The Lamson pneumatic tube cash conveying system was installed in the store in 1914 with the dispatch station in the basement and cash terminal stations on other floors fed by concealed tubing in the walls... The system at Myer consists of a series of embossed ornate chambers and shoots, with chrome-plated cast brass, leather valves, push rods and balancing gear. The system is largely intact, though steel tubing which originally connected to the store's various departments has been cut off at ceiling level. A secondary cash station is still extant in a storage area at the northern end of the fifth floor of the Bourke Street store. This ornate pneumatic tube system is extremely rare and is the only known example of its type to survive in situ in Victoria. Victorian Heritage Register: No. PROV H2100 (17 Mar. 2006). Photographs at Onmydoorstep website and High Riser blog

MELBOURNE. Ryan's Filters (auto-parts shop), Elizabeth Street. "The [cashier's] desk was connected to the serving counters by a web of steel wire like spokes on a wheel... The receipt and cash was tucked in what appeared to be peanut butter jars, which were screwed into lids, suspended from the wires." Posting to alt.folklore.urban newsgroup, 1/5/01

MELBOURNE. Treadways, Chapel Street, Prahran. "Cashiers, junior or senior, to operate pneumatic tube system." Argus (Melbourne) 3 Mar. 1949, p.11

MELBOURNE. Walkers (drapers), 206 Glenferrie Road. "Walker's Stores .. have 24 Rapid Wire Cash Carrier Systems, working order; £8 per station, complete." Argus (Melbourne) 28 Sep. 1948, p.9

MORWELL. Sharpe's Emporium, 190 Commercial Road. Established 1924 and ceased trading 1984. "Before I began work in the shop I remember it used to have a unique system of sending cash to the cashier in the office.  This was a a sort of flying fox arrangement where the money and docket was put in a tube and sent whizzing away overhead to the cashier who would send back the change if required.  We used cash registers by the time I worked there." Pooh's reflections

star PORTLAND. Powerhouse Motor and Car Museum, Corner of Percy and Glenelg Streets. Working wire system. Graeme Bennett

QUEENSCLIFFE. Eddie George department store, Hesse Street. Wire system in 1980s.

RAINBOW. General Store. Rapid wire system. Photograph on Grey Nomads Forum

RICHMOND. Balls, Swan Street. "It does remind me of the time we lived in Richmond as children and loved going into Dimmeys, and I think it was called Balls in Swan St. They had the vacuum type cylinders for sending the money to the cashiers office and we were fascinated with them."  Bev Walker in posting to AUS-VIC-GOLDFIELDS-L List, 17 May 2005
• "Balls was on the southwest corner of Swan and Church Streets, Richmond; and did have one of those mechanisms for carrying cash to a central cashier. It may have only closed around the the late 80s (?)." Walking Melbourne website

starRICHMOND.Dimmeys, Swan Street. "Preserved remnants" of a wire system. (Douglas Beith). System was relocated from Balls - see above. "When I last visited the store about 3-4 years ago there were still some remnants of the overhead wire system in the eastern side - back half of the store... The cashier was on a podium in the centre - to the east side. Kevin Taig in Trams Down Under Archive, 26/12/05

RICHMOND. Ryans, Elizabeth Street.  "There was a tool and car part type shop up the top of Elizabeth St between Victoria Street and Flemington Road that had that sort of setup. Little canisters would be shot off up a guide wire by a spring powerd gun thing. The money and docket would be sent up by the sales person on the shop floor to cashiers in a high, central booth. Then the change and receipt would glide back down by gravity.  I think the shop may have closed for good during the late 1980's or early 1990's. I remember going there and buying something in the mid 1980's and the system was still in use." Walking Melbourne website

SALE. William Leslie, Foster Street. "In 1888 Leslie commenced business for himself as a general draper in Foster Street, Sale... with sales transactions being sped on overhead wires to the centrally located cashier." Australian Dictionary of Biography

starSWAN HILL. Wire system seen in action "fairly recently" Devonport Times, Jan. 2002

WARRNAMBOOL. Youngers (dept. store), Liebig Street. Rapid Wire car now in the collection of Warrnambool and District Historical Society. Victorian Collections website

YARRA. Foy and Gibson, Smith Street, Collingwood. One of Australia's earliest department stores (Wikipedia). "A small gravity cash railway has lately been introduced in the establishment of Messrs Foy and Gibson, Smith street, Collingwood. Similar contrivances are in extensive use in many cities in the United States. This one has been adapted and patented by Mr J M'Lellan, of Albert park. The lines run along all the counters at a height varying from about 7 ft. to 10 ft. from the ground and are suspended from the roof by brass rods. There are in all six lines, the longest of which runs for l00 ft., in which distance a fall of 3ft. necessary to enable the rolling stock to travel from end to end.
There are two sets of rails on each line, one taking cash and sale notes up to the cashiers office, the other returning the change and receipts to the salesmen. This is attained by having the gradients suitably arranged. The vehicles are in the form of wooden balls, and the money is kept in the centre of the sphere by springs, in order that the centre of gravity may not be disturbed. The arrangements are most ingenious and seem perfect. By adopting this system the firm has been able to dispense with cash boys, and the business in the cashier's ofiice is carried on with much greater expedition." Argus, 12 June 1886, p. 11
• "Messrs Foy and Gibson .. have an apparatus in their establishment with no less than 64 stations, and the cash run through this .. during three days of one of their fairs amounted to £10,000." Auckland Star, 30 Apr. 1890, p.2
• "
While Francis Foy was absent on a prolonged buying mission, William Gibson, fascinated by the overhead cash-carrier system then coming into favour, installed one in the Smith st premises as a surprise for his partner on his return. However, it was with a wry sort of smile that Francis Foy beheld the new contraption. It was not because he was opposed to innovations. On the contrary, his reputation was that of a man ever on the look-out for new ideas in business. It was that he had not been consulted on a major item of expenditure." Argus (Melbourne) 18 June 1949, p.5 S



starKORUMBURRA. Coal Creek Heritage Village. Two Rapid Wire lines from the Korumburra Butter Factory (one of the largest in the southern hemisphere) installed in the General Store. Suzanne Conlan

MELBOURNE. Museum of Victoria, Carlton. "Set consists of a Shanghai mechanism, a return trigger mechanism, a trolley with a cash cup, mounting brackets, cable and a turnbuckle... Made by Lamson Engineering Co., Box Hill, Victoria." Australian Museums & Galleries Online website. Not on display when I visited in Sep. 2004.


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