Chatting with James – One

27 Feb

He’s an interesting guy, James Duncan.  He walks in the present but his passions lie in the past – working with heritage tramcars and an old Wurlitzer theatre organ.  He is involved with trams at the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT) and is Operations Manager of Dockline Tram trundling around the ever changing Wynyard Quarter.  His enthusiasm is contagious.  Of no surprise, one of Dockline Tram’s new products is the Roaring Twenties Tour.

James tells me it follows the very successful Down Memory Lane, a hit with Auckland retirement villages last year.  Down Memory Lane involved old colour movies of tramcars trundling along Auckland’s Queen Street accompanied by fitting music from a heritage Wurlitzer organ housed in Avondale’s Hollywood Cinema.  The organ music was so appreciated James ventured to build on the concept introducing the Roaring Twenties tour.

“Everything is 1920s,” James tells me.  Well not quite.  He insists the morning tea at Rushworth Café in Jellicoe Street is fresh on the day, although its venue in former Jellicoe Wharf shipping sheds is 1920s.  “And the trams are definitely 1920s.  We went to the Organ Trust archives for twenties music and produced great toe-tapping numbers.  The organ performance is accompanied by a 1920s dance band.”

Now, believe me, elderly folk toe-tapping for all they’re worth to tunes of the past is something wonderful to behold.  Twenties devotees can display an amazing zest for living.  James expects the Roaring Twenties tour to be popular especially through the next couple of months when the weather is cooler but agreeable prior to winter.

Garden Tour

For something a tad different, tram driver Susan Walker, “a bit of a botanist” has taken an interest in gardens developing in Wynyard Quarter.  “Unlike your colourful rose gardens, these are very much nature’s gardens.  A lot of thought has gone into the ecology of the area,”  James tells me.  The tour kicks off with a tram ride.  Susan provides a commentary explaining the history of the flora.  A gentle walk follows, down to the Silo Park wetlands garden.  Of special interest is the environmentally conscious processing of the water and drain systems.  Then there is the abundant native plantings creating a green belt along Jellicoe Street.  “They’re all evergreens chosen so the plants can cope with wind and a degree of salt spray,” says James.  In time, the trees will bring back the bird life.  The container information centre in Karanga Plaza is particularly interesting, having a Scandinavian-style living roof.  The tour finishes off at Rushworth Café, then by tram to return to the participants’ transport.

Both new tours are $14 a head, including the tram ride and morning tea.
For more information and bookings phone (09) 377 7701

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