Horse-drawn Hearse

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Part of the horse-drawn vehicle collection at Swan Hill's Pioneer Settlement.

This Hearse was manufactured in Scotland, probably towards the end of the nineteenth century, and was imported for use in the suburbs of Melbourne. Once horse-drawn hearses started to fall out of favour with the more modern citizens of the City, it was transferred from Ravens Undertakers in Kew to their branch in Nagambie and then later again to Castlemaine.

Earlier hearses were much plainer, simply black, glass sided boxes, which looked very depressing. Towards the end of the nineteenth century though, there was a move towards a more flamboyant, if still understated, look and the cost of a funeral would be affected by the type and amount of decoration required on the Hearse and horses.

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Coach, Melbourne Museum

Cobb & Co Coach, at ">Melbourne Museum.

The associated info panel says"
This coach is believed to have been built in Geelong in about 1880 for the Western Stage Company, which ran coaches throughout western Victoria under the 'Cobb & Co' banner. Pulled by four or five horses, the coach carried up to 17 passengers. Mail and luggage were stowed in the compartment below the driver's seat, and on the rear luggage rack or roof.

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Horse-drawn Omnibus

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Part of the horse-drawn vehicle collection at Swan Hill's Pioneer Settlement.

The horse-drawn Omnibus was a French invention which came to Australia via England in the mid nineteenth century, it was the equivalent of the modern suburban bus. Similar to the Family Wagonette in that it has parallel side seats, panelled sides and a rear entrance. Unlike the Wagonette though, it also has a fixed top, and windows.

The Omnibus displayed here is a basic model suited to a provincial Mallee town. It lacks the glass widows and the rooftop seating that were found on omnibuses in major cities. The history of this vehicle before arriving at the Settlement is, unfortunately, unknown.

Water Cart, Horse-drawn

This water cart has two points of interest on the back. On the left is an information panel and on the right is an opening that lets you look inside.

The panel says:

This water cart was used at the Tasmania Mine to spray the mine year to rest the dust. The driver could operate the release valves with a foot lever.

The draught horse pulling the cart must have been a powerful animal as the tank held amost a tonne (1000kg) of water!


Concord model thorough-brace coach

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At the National Museum of Australia (database record, has more photos).

The accompanying panel says:

Concord model thorough-brace coach 1860-80
This coach may have been manufactured by Cobb and Co. at its Charleville coachworks in Queensland or by a smaller company in the Gunnedah area of New South wales. It was used on Robert Nowland's Gunnedah to Coonabarabran mail run, probably the 1870s. At first this 100-kilometre route followed a rough bush track, if the coach got bogged or the road was too steep for the four-in-hand horse term, passengers had to get out and walk. In 18880, just after the railway reached Gunnedah, the government built a good road between the two towns. Nowland was granted persimmons to use the road in 1882 and it proved a lucrative route. If the weather was fine, the new route took 12 hours, with tree stops along the way to change horses.

Trunk about 1900
When the coach was acquired by the Museum in 1980 this wooden trunk came with it. The tray on the rear of the coach, known as the 'boot', was used for luggage, as was the roof. Goods were sometimes stowed under the seats and could bang passengers' legs on rough stretches of road.



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Panel at the front say, in part:

Gig with Road Cart Body
This vehicle is a gig not a jinker, sulky or trap. The differences are that a gig has the shaft running right past the body to the rear of the vehicle. Gigs are also enclosed at the back, but have ample luggage space below the seat.

A road cart body was a particular style of body built by English carriage builders.

No details on its provenance are available, but it was built by F. Paine in Launceston in the late 1800s or early 1900s.

At Entally Estate.


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This is a light, two-wheeled horse-drawn vehicle. But how does it differ from other light, two-wheeled horse-drawn vehicles like gigs and sulkies? Short answer, it doesn't.

From "Sulkies, Whiskeys and Gigs" by Jeff Powell, Curator, Cobb & Co Museum in the Australian Carriage Driving Society Show Driving Handbook (PDF):

From Cooktown to Kalgoorlie and Cape Byron to Broome, the sulky was the most popular horse-drawn vehicle in Australia. These two-wheeled passenger vehicles, also known as gigs or jinkers in Victoria, could be found in every town and country district. Sulkies were light and stylish yet surprisingly robust. Many were still plying country tracks in the middle of the 20th century, long after other horse-drawn vehicles had disappeared from the road.

(Not to be confused with a timber-hauling jinker,  which has little in common other than power source.)

The bit on the front says:
The Common Jinker
These vehicles were used around towns and also around the cities prior to country use.
Used around the 1920's to the 1930's in the country towns.

From Beechworth Carriage Museum.

Turnout Seat Buggy

At Entally Estate.

Information panel says "The main feature of this style [turnout seat] of vehicle is that the body to the rear of driver's seat acts as a boot for luggage and the lid of the boot opens rearwards, which then converts into an extra seat" and can then carry four people. "This vehicle was built by Launceston Carriage and Buggy Works in the 1900s to an American design. It is fitted with shafts for a single horse but could be used with a pole for a pair." Repainted in the 1950/60s.