.jump-link{ display:none }

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Sepia Saturday: Coaches, Cart Horses and Carters

Sepia Saturday give bloggers an opportunity to share their family history and memories  through photographs. 

I chose the obvious for this week's prompt  with photographs of horses,  carts, carters, wagonettes,  lots of caps and even some stage-coaches. 

We were on holiday in Warsaw when this stage-coach drove into a square  - we never found out what it was all about. 

One of the many beautiful wall paintings you see on the outside of buildings in Austria

How many of us have "carter" ancestors?  This was the occupation of my great great grandfather Robert Rawcliffe (1821-1904) who lived in   Hambleton, near Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashir.   

In these photographs from the Scottish Borders  Auld Earlston Collection we not only have carts but also luggage, wheels and caps. 

A horse and cart beside the old Pump Well in Earlston's Market Square.  The Well was demolished  in 1920 to make way for the War Memorial. 

Cattle Sales took place here until a sales ring was set up next to the railway station in the mid19th century. Three times a year, farm servants gathered hoping to secure employment at the  Hiring Fairs which did not die out until the 1940's.

The distinctive large building on the left was the Corn Exchange, built in 1868.  The   clock and the belfry tower were built with money donated by John Redpath  who had emigrated to Canada made his fortune. and remembered his home town in this way.  

From the collection of the Heritage Hub in Hawick  - home of the Scottish Borders Archives,Local & Family History Service.  

On to something bigger -  Cart-Horses 

Here is My third cousin, Gloria a top of this carthorse.   Her Oldham family were carters and coal merchants for three generations - Joseph Prince Oldham (1855-1921), his son John William Oldham (1880-1939) and his granddaughter Elsie Smith, nee Oldham (1906-1989) - Gloria's mother.

The business was founded around 1890, steadily became prosperous and in 1905 moved to near North Station, Blackpool in a house with a large yard, hay loft, tack room. and stabling for around 7 horses.

In the 1901 census Joseph  was described as a self-employed carter and coal merchant with his son John a coal wagon driver. An accident at the coal sidings in the railway station resulted in Joseph being blinded and he died in 1921, with his will, signed with his "mark.  

Wagonettes in tow 
Not a very good photograph, but the man on the left in the peak cap  standing at the back of  the open topped bus  is my great uncle Bob Danson,  a postman in Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire,  I don't know if I would feel all that safe on the top of this vehicle, ready to take passengers into Blackpool.

Another crowded wagonette outside the Red Lion Hotel, Earlston. The sign above the hotel door names Robert Smart as Proprietor.  He was there in the 1901 census with hs wife isabella, son John (a groom) and other members of the household  a cook, housemaid and waitress. 

 A winter photograph  of the Red Lion Hotel  in the Square at Earlston.  The driver of this unusual sledge seems to be dressed very formally in a top hat and is not particularly well  wrapped up against the elements.  And who was he waiting for?  There does not seem to be any path cleared through the snow from  the hotel.  Or was it a promotional photograph?   From the collection of the Heritage Hub, Hawick.

Where there are horses, there are blacksmiths.  
In Earlston, the Brotherstone family fulfilled this role down several  generations.  


From the Auld Earlston collection

And finally a little horse and cart  which brings back memories of my mother - a talented stitcher who made this soft toy.

Ride on to HERE  
for other bloggers' tales of coaches, horses, roof-racks, wheels luggage, and caps. 


  1. You win on sheer volume! These are such interesting photos and your knowledge of how the carts and wagons were connected to your family's lives give them importance. I really enjoyed this post. And the handcrafted horse and wagon is precious in every sense. Do you keep it out on display? Do you put anything in the wagon?

  2. What a fine set of photos and so many liked to your own family! I bet you’re the only Sepian this week with a carter in the family too. That handcrafted horse and cart is a treasure indeed.

    1. I think my great grandfather Charles Forbes would classify as having been a carter too, and I have others of the same occupation, but without photographs.

  3. Your cousin Gloria looks rather wary sitting atop that cart horse. I think I would be too. Whoa, Nellie! I'm having a hard time imagining how those poor horses pull that strange sleigh sitting in front of the Red Lion Hotel. I mean - where are the runners? As for the wagonettes - I wonder if that's where the airlines got the idea of adequate leg room? Very nice & interesting post!

  4. I usually think of stagecoaches in relation to the American West and cowboy movies, so it is interesting for me to see them in other countries and contexts.

  5. Gee, I wouldn't want to be on that wagonette. It is loaded!

  6. WOW! What a wonderful collection!

  7. My father and grandfather were harness makers by trade so I can claim a remote horsey connection. However I can't such a fine set of photos - not one has survived. Your series is magnificent.

  8. I live the winter scene the best but your photos show how integral to life was the horse+cart combination? Like you I'm sure I wouldn't have liked to travel 5 yards in those open passenger wagons.

  9. Thank you to everyone for all your comments - as usual they are very much appreciated.

    To Postcardy, it was interesting to read your perception of stagecoaches in the American West, because to me they are so associated with Victorian Britain - probably thanks to Charles Dickens and also their popularity as a Christmas card image. They might look romantic on the cards, but old newspapers are full of graphic descriptions of the reality of such travel and the accidents that befell them .

    To Wendy - my mother's felt horse & cart only comes out on special occasions and yes - she used to fill the little wagon with sweets.

  10. I can't get over how many people are on that wagonette. Those horses must have been very strong.

  11. The winter sledge as they called it, wow, it almost appears it wouldn't go anywhere, and yet it's my favorite of them all! Nice collection of stagecoaches!


Thank you for your comment which will appear on screen after moderation.