King Street Cable Cars (circa 1896)


King Street Cable Cars circa 1896 90cm x 60cm Original Oil painting on Canvas on Board
by John Bradley

The painting depicts a brief period in our history before the advent of electricity in major cities. The city streets are still wet from recent showers and the night is closing in. Gas lights, kerosene lamps and carbide lighting are the only means of illumination on the streets and in the shops and homes of Sydney. It’s hard to believe that this is not much more than 100 years ago; a time remembered by our grandparents and great-grandparents when they were still with us. Two cable tram routes were built in Sydney, the first running from King Street wharf on the eastern side of Darling Harbour to Ocean Street Edgecliff, the second from the original Milson’s point ferry wharf in North Sydney to Falcon Street North Sydney which was later extended to Crows Nest. The cable trams of Sydney were only in use for some 4 to 5 years, eventually being replaced by electric trams forming a network claim to be the second largest in the Commonwealth of Nations (after London) and one of the largest in the world. A cable tram consisted of two vehicles working together, a leading open tramcar with perimeter seats under a canopy style roof, known as the ‘dummy’ or ‘grip’ car, and an enclosed saloon tram or trailer. The system was powered by a large steam powered winding engine. The engine’s flywheel hauled an endless steel cable lying beneath the road between the rails in a shallow channel along the tram route.
John says, “You’ve got to take time out and look at the Australian landscape because the colours are there. Look at that red there, look at that lovely green tree…” That’s what makes John’s paintings so different from most other landscape painters you may know. John’s treatment of light on trees and foliage is unique. When you own a John Bradley painting you will notice how the light on the painting constantly changes throughout the day. Especially John’s Blue Mountain scenes, late afternoon as the room darkens, you’d swear the mist was rolling out of the painting and into your lounge room – it’s amazing. John is also extremely proficient at painting locomotives, aeroplanes, sailing ships, light houses and old historic buildings. They are all reminders of times when the pace of life was a little slower and more meaningful.
Born in Sydney in 1945, John’s early life was something of a Huckleberry Finn existence. Surrounded by large tracts of land, parks and river, he was relatively free to roam during his schooling years and explored the surrounding areas extensively, developing a love of nature in the process, and a familiarity with many of its aspects.

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