This is a photo taken at Wynyard station of the wooden escalators that carry passengers between the Wynyard Station concourse and York Street. It’s reported that there are only seven such wooden escalators remaining in the world making these, and the similar designed Town Hall escalators, rare items on a global scale.
These escalators were first installed in 1932, which was the same year that the Harbour Bridge was opened. That means they’ve been carrying foot traffic for over 80 years. Though it should be noted that while three wooden escalators were installed in 1932, the fourth was added and the other three were replaced during the 1950s.
In recent years, there have been several incidents raising concerns over the safety of the escalators. There have been reports of high heels getting stuck in the toothed steps, skirts being caught and torn off as well as fire hazard concerns. Further cases of guide dog injuries and thrill seekers sliding down on cardboard (back in the 90s) have been called on for reason to upgrade or close the escalators which are said to carry more than 150,000 people on a typical day.
The newly opened Barangaroo tunnel will mean many commuters will now bypass the escalators on way to Barangaroo Towers. In addition, the tunnel includes more modern escalators running up to ground level. Combine this with the earlier mentioned safety concerns may mean the vintage escalators’ days are numbered. The main arguments for retaining their use are both the upgrade cost at a reported $12 million (includes the Town Hall escalators) and the heritage value that they carry.
Safety versus heritage, have you got a view on what to do with the escalators?
Note: I try to be as accurate as possible but make no guarantees. Please use this information at your own risk.
Here is a video I took a few weeks ago as I rode down to Wynyard station on the escalators