Wodonga’s First Taxis

Wodonga’s first taxi service.

From information supplied to the Wodonga Historical Society by Norma McGrath in 1996.

“My great-grandfather, Harry Stead, Snr., owned and operated Wodonga’s first taxi service. He had horse drawn cabs running between Wodonga, and Albury in 1868. He also ran a carrying business with wagons and drays. Workmen from Albury and Wodonga were carried to the construction site of the Hume Weir.

Drays, although slow, were used with room for 10 or 12 paying passengers, at times.

Stead’s paddocks ran back from Sydney Street (now High Street) with stable accommodation for his 70 and more horses. The Provincial Motel occupied part of the site in later years.

Harry’s son, “young Harry” joined his Dad around 1892 as soon as his schooldays were over.

After the horsedrawn cabs, the Steads began Wodonga’s first motorised taxi, hire car and bus services. Some of the taxis used down the years were: an A-Model Ford, 1934 Ford, Ford V8, Dodge Tourer, Hudson Six and, earlier, the 1923 Buick with dicky seat.

Among the drivers were Stan Hogbin, Gerry Gerrard, Jack O’Neill, “Peggy” O’Neill, Ernie “Honey” Zeinert, Cliff Williams and Les Cole.

Young Harry had 4 cars on the rank from 1930 to 1940 when competition for fares was fierce.  He had his regulars who paid 4/- a week to go to and from Albury daily. They included young Bev McGeoch and Dorrie Flower. Dorrie was the daughter of one of Wodonga’s pioneer horse-drawn cabbies, the popular Jim Flower.”

In 1934 Harry was before the Albury Police Court charged with having driven on a public road within the municipality of Albury a vehicle plying for hire which was not a licensed public vehicle.  The Albury Municipal Council required owners of public vehicles to take out a NSW certificate of registration before granting licences for their vehicles to ply their trade. The case was held as a test case and the decision affecting other hire-car proprietors running between Albury and Wodonga.  Subsequently the ordinance was to be amended to enable the council to issue public vehicle licenses in cases where the vehicle does not proceed more than 10 miles over the border.