Horse drawn vehicles in the 19th Century

editorial image
Have your say

THE POPULARITY of the gig and dog cart remained throughout the 19th Century, but their construction was refined to eliminate features which caused discomfort or necessitated frequent repairs. The small carts and gigs were by far the most numerous on the roads. Public cabs failed to survive in such numbers as the private carriages. The governors’ carriages were the vehicles in fashion at the end of the carriage era.

The first dog carts were constructed for the purpose indicated by their name, to enable dogs for shooting or other purposes to be conveniently carried. They were seated for four, and were roomy, comfortable traps with space under the seats, where a brace of pointers or other dogs could lie at ease. The sides of the cart were made with Venetian slats to provide ventilation, the seat cushions being frequently finished with long flaps falling from the seat to near the floor of the vehicle.

A conveyance adapted for the comfortable carriage of dogs ceased to be of practical utility when pointers and setters were no longer used for partridge and pheasant shooting. The fashion of the dog cart changed frequently as far as the general lines of the vehicle were concerned. The taste for a low vehicle set well down upon the wheels replaced that for the high dog cart formerly so popular.

With the low dog cart, a cob or a pony is only required for it instead of a horse. It was easier to enter and leave.

The ‘fulcrum shafts’ marked a great step in advance. These shafts did away with the ‘knee action’ or rocking motion, which was formerly the greatest objection to vehicles of the dog cart pattern.

Two country dog carts from the 1904 catalogue of the ‘East Yorkshire and Crosskills Carriage and Waggon Works Ltd.’ show the carts which were popular in our area, and which were frequently being repaired in the works of George Shepherdson & Son, Middle Street North, Driffield, as shown in one of their ledgers at the time:

The Yorkshire spring cart. was a well-finished cart of stylish appearance mounted on Three Springs and Mail Patent Axle with Brass Caps. The spring cart was really more of a market cart than a dog cart.

The Beverley ‘Whitechapel Cart’. was a strong useful cart with cushions and lancewood shafts, mounted on Mail Patent Axle, with brass caps, good springs and drivers box and lamps complete. This ‘Whitechapel’ was by far the most frequent cart to enter the works of George Shepherdson at Driffield, for repair.

It was a light two-wheeled spring cart used by shopkeepers for sending goods round the district.

Items from the ledger.

WHITECHAPEL: H.O. Piercy, Lowthorpe

1884, Painting and varnishing all over. £1 - 10s - 0d

BROUGHAM: Rev, Canon Newton, Driffield.

A brougham was a closed four -wheeled vehicle turning short on a pivot.

Originally designed for two persons it was drawn by one or two horses.

Brougham wheels cleaning and oiling and new leather washers, new cotter pins. 10s - 0d

New forged iron footboard stay and 3 new bolts. 7s - 6d

PHAETON: Mr. Chas. Goodless, Skerne.

A light four-wheeled carriage containing either one or two seats facing forward, open at sides and with or without top.

Repairing front carriage of Mrs. Hornby’s phaeton. 5s - 5d

STANHOPE : Sir Tatton Sykes, Sledmere.

A light open one-seated vehicle made with two wheels but later with four.

Named after Mr. Stanhope for whom it was first built.

1903. Purchased for Sir Tatton. £21 - 15s - 0d

WAGGONETTE: Mrs. Dry, Driffield.

A carriage or pleasure waggon, covered or uncovered, built to hold six or eight persons, having two lengthwise back seats facing inwards and a crosswise seat in front for driver.

1885. Cleaning, oiling and new leather washers to waggonette 6s - 0d


Carts were made to suit the needs of individual tradesmen.

Mr. Crawford, Driffield.

1887. Taking axle off fish cart, welding new piece in middle and refixing. £1 - 10s - 0d

Mr. Wood, Kilham.

1903. Governess carriage, new walnut wing and fixing. 8s - 0d

Mr. Morris, butcher, Driffield.

1889. Lamps fixing on butcher’s cart. 5s - 5d

Mr. Robinson, grocer, Driffield.

1889. New handcart as agreed. 7s - 0d.

My thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Maw for giving me access to the Shepherdson Ledger, which they have now placed in the Treasure House at Beverley.

Back to the top of the page