How did the horse cross the road?

On Fellmongers Road in the Geelong suburb of Breakwater there is what seems to be a normal set of pedestrian lights.

Traffic lights on Fellmongers Road to allow horses to cross the road

But if you take a closer look, you’ll realise that the crossing doesn’t lead anywhere.

Traffic lights on Fellmongers Road to allow horses to cross the road

And the push buttons are located at head hight.

Unique high level lamp and push button to allow horse riders to cross Fellmongers Road

And there is an extra ‘don’t walk’ light mounted above it.

Unique high level lamp and push button to allow horse riders to cross Fellmongers Road

But the reason for the crossing and extra equipment is visible if you look over the fence on the other side – Geelong Racecourse is next door.

Grandstands at Geelong Racecourse viewed from Fellmongers Road

The traffic lights were provided in the 1990s to allow strappers to bring horses to and from the off-track stables complex located at Haworth Court.

Unique high level lamp and push button to allow horse riders to cross Fellmongers Road

A safety audit in 2007 saw the Geelong Racing Club discontinue use of the traffic lights, with horses being moved by horse float instead. The pedestrian lights are still in place, but the special push buttons for horses have been decommissioned.

History of the Haworth Court stables

The Haworth Court stable complex was completed in 1984 by the Geelong Regional Commission with four tenants occupying 40 horse boxes, the site was taken over by the Geelong Racing Club in 1985, and later expanded to 90 boxes across five stables.

The lack of easy access to the racecourse combined with the aging facilities led to a 2012 proposal for a new on-track training complex. The stables were sold in 2014, with funds from the sale to be used to build new on-course stables.

A sewer related footnote

The path between the stables and the racetrack is located atop Geelong’s main outfall sewer.

And a note of traffic lights

The Data.Vic directory has an item titled ‘Traffic Signal Configuration Data Sheets for Victoria‘.

“In VicRoads these are known as OP SHEETS. The op sheets are the operational design criteria for the traffic signals across Victoria, Each traffic signal requires this information for signal phasing. These can be used with the Traffic Signal Volume Data and the Turning Movement Volume Surveys for site performance reports or intersection redesign.”

Here is the relevant ‘Op Sheet’ for the pedestrian crossing on Fellmongers Road:

And a NSW example

I’ve had a NSW example sent with me – an extra set of push buttons for the use of strappers taking horses across the traffic lights at the corner of Prospect Street and James Ruse Drive, outside Sydney’s Rosehill Racecourse.

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9 Responses to “How did the horse cross the road?”

  1. Martin Bennett says:

    Ah, Fellmonger’s Road. ‘Fellmonger’ is of course one of those occupational surnames so common in the English language. But what is, or was, a fellmonger? Clearly a seller of or dealer in something – as in fishmonger or ironmonger – but what is ‘fell’? Anybody know?

    • Marcus Wong says:

      From Wikipedia:

      “A fellmonger was a dealer in hides or skins, particularly sheepskins, who might also prepare skins for tanning”

      The Barwon River end of Fellmonger’s Road was the home of a number of tanneries, due to the supply of water to wash away the fetid wastes, and the presence of the breakwater to prevent it from heading upstream.

  2. David Payne says:

    I expect some sewerage would accumulate while the horses were idling at the traffic lights. Hopefully it went somewhere useful not the storm water system but ironic it was just above a main sewerage pipe.

    I’m surprised the Victorian Racing Club hasn’t made an offer too good to refuse to the Royal Agricultural Society.

    If I had one or more extremely valuable & skittish racehorses accomodating them at Flemington Racecourse would seem a good idea EXCEPT during the Royal Agricultural Show when there are massive fireworks every night! So VRC misses out on a lot of rent, and traffic in the area is affected by more horse floats every race day.

  3. Andrew says:

    I read about the jockey height push buttons some years ago. What a topical post. That is a very simple traffic light diagram. I have studied the Vic Roads traffic light and loops diagram for the corner of Toorak and Glenferrie Roads. It did my head in but I eventually had some understanding.

  4. Drew says:

    Strappers take the horses to the track.

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