Gail Thornton
a pictorial archive of horse


The Governess

Originally designed for governesses to take their young charges out for drives.  The vehicle is entered through the rear by means of an outward opening door and a low step iron that was much safer for children to climb aboard than shaft steps near the hindquarters of the pony. The tub shape makes it less likely that they will fall out as they might from a gig or a dog cart. Unfortunately the vehicle has to be driven from a sideways position which could be uncomfortable. This card has not been postally used and gives no information regarding photographer or location 

Tub carts were larger and heavier versions of the Governess cart.  Though most Governess carts had bodywork of wood some, as in this postcard, were basketwork. Basket gigs were inexpensive, unpretentious and popular in the country. However for a time they fell into disuse apparently as a result of being ridiculed by the popular magazine of the time “Punch”. In 1886 their popularity was revived.  This little pony will have its work cut out pulling these smart gentlemen. Unfortunately there is nothing written on the back to help with identification.

Many Governess carts have a one-sided door handle placed well down on the outer side to prevent children from reaching the handle and opening the door. However in situations where the driver may need to get to the horses head quickly this can be a disadvantage. Some vehicles have the handle at the top of the door in the form of a lever, which is easier for the driver to open quickly, but cannot be released accidentally. The lady in this postcard looks very well to do but once again there is nothing written on the back to help identify who she is or where this impressive house is.

This is a very well turned out vehicle showing a superb varnished wood finish to the bodywork as well as the carriage lamps that would be lit when driving in the dark. You can also see a wicker holder on the back to carry the gentleman’s sticks. Once again there is nothing written on the back to assist with identification.

Rose Carr was a well known character around the roads and lanes of East Yorkshire, earning her living as a general carrier based in Hornsea.  She was born in North Frodingham, a village outside of Driffield, in 1843 but moved to Hornsea a seaside town on the East coast.  Her face was paralysed on the left hand side, possibly as a result of a kick from a horse in her younger years.  In this postcard the turn out is spick and span as required when entering in to the show ring.  Unfortunately nothing is written on the card to identify location or date, but as she died in 1913 it has been taken before this date.

What interests me about this real photographic post card is the Sulky that is also present.  A sulky is a two wheeled vehicle, with a seat just for the driver and without a body to ensure that it is very light as it is used in harness racing.  Hence the leg protection that can be seen on the front legs of the horse.  Going at speed it is very easy for the horse to kick its own leg if not protected.   Given the dress of the person holding the horse I would assume that he is not going to be the one entering the race.  The card was addressed to Mrs Abbott, 294 Hyde Road, Ardwick, Manchester, possibly in 1915.

A lovely clean example of a small governess cart with well turned out pony and the whip present in the whip holder.  As with many of my post cards nothing has been written on the back to help with identification.

Though not posted this card does have a message written on the back which reads "To Georgie. Wishing him a very merry xmas and a happy new year. Love from Jane".  But yet again nothing to say where or which xmas we are talking about.  The lady does have a lovely hat to pose with.

Here is a governess cart with a difference!  It is a much later model with pneumatic typres and given the ladies style of dress it looks to be have been in the 50s.  The clip that the pony has been given would suggest that it is winter or early spring.  The Pekingese dog that can be seen pearing over the side looks to be having a good time.  Unfortunately there are no marks to identify either the person or the location.

A very smart gentleman posing along with possibly his daughter and his trusty donkey.  It maybe that the house is located in Sandsend as someone has written a message on the back, which was sent to Mrs Alice Holloway, 26 Lime Street, Southport, saying that they have just returned there after 7 weeks visiting all over the place. 

This postcard was sent to wish Mrs Ritson a happy xmas from M. Ford.  Whether this could be the family of M.Ford I cannot say but they certainly look a well turned out bunch.  It would be quite a squeeze to get them all in this Governess cart.

Though not postally used this postcard has been identified as coming from the "Long Sutton collection" but what this means I cannot say.  The postcard was given to "Darling Flo" from "Dear Little Bert".  If you look closely you will see that the top of the cart is basket weave.

Once again we have no marks either on the front or back of this postcard to identify either the smart young man posing or the location.  The cart is often referred to as a Spindle Backed Governess Cart

A very smart turnout with coloured pony. It is such a shame that we cannot identify either the people or the location as the card has not been written on or posted.

This example of a Governess cart, though not the best photograph, shows why they were often called Tub carts.  The children are posing outside of a hotel but unfortunately it is not possible to see the name, all we can make out on the notice board is that there is a bowling green and parties are catered for. Someone has written on the back "Joan" and "Allen" so whether this refers to two of the children here or whether it is the girl called Joan Allen we will probably never know.

Another badly damaged card, which is such a shame after all these years.  However you can still make out that the vehicle is a Governess cart and the lady is about to step in.