Gail Thornton
a pictorial archive of horse


The Rulley, Lurrie,Lorry or Trolley and the Dray

The Illustrated Catalogue of 1890 for the East Yorkshire Cart and Waggon Company Limited have a drawing similar to this vehicle with the title ‘Lurries for General Purposes”. You can also see it spelt as Lurry or be know as a Lorry, Trolley or Rulley, depending on where in the country you are.  In this postcard it would appear that they are on their way to some show as the horse has been well turned out with head plumes and possibly horse brasses.  Also notice that there is no drivers seat, the boy is sat on what looks like a box. 

The lurrie was used in street deliveries or for carrying raw materials to the dockside, wharf or railway siding.  It is usually flat, to allow easy access for loading and unloading, carrying up to 8 ton and able to be drawn by a single horse though a team can be used in difficult terrain.  The vehicle has no driving seat as often the horse would be led through the streets though sometimes driven from a standing position on the front of the platform.  This gentleman is a rabbit salesman as you can see from the writing on the side of the lurrie and also from the animals in his hands and hanging from a rail at the front. The folded up blankets on the corner suggest he drives the horse from this position if he needs a rest from leading it through the streets.

Often Rulley’s/Lurries had boards on either the front, back or both to help keep the cargo safe and also helping to advertise the business.  As vehicles were often made locally it was not unusual for businesses to request additions to the general design, in this instance a seat has been added for comfort on what would be a long days delivery.  Here you can see Scott’s Mineral Water from Drighlington on his rounds. 

Where this carnival is being held is hard to say as there are no identifying marks on the back of the postcard, as it has not been postally used.  It is being pulled by a pair of horses though even with the number of people aboard it does not look heavy enough to need the strength of a pair. 

A dray and a float are both vehicles with a low floor and used for carrying heavy objects. The term dray is now usually used in reference to a vehicle used by breweries with fairly small wheels and covering a relatively small area. It is thought that the term originated from the Old Norse word “draga” referring to the movement of timber by dragging it behind a horse. Before the arrival of the dray, barrels were transported in a similar fashion. Here is a beautifully posed real photographic postcard showing the loading of a dray and being pulled by two horses in tandem (one behind the other).  Though the card has not been postally used it does have a note written on the back. It is from W.G. Hutt apologising for not sending Mr Eades a copy of the photograph sooner. 

This is a reproduction of a real photograph, one of a series by Aristophot Co, London. It shows a dray from the Worthington brewery, notice how the barrels are stored differently to the previous card.

Another reproduction, this time of a Whitbread dray carrying crates of beer along the streets of Hull in the 1960s. It was common for the horses to be well turned out in this way as they were representing the brewery. 

On the reverse of this real photographic postcard someone has written that they are delivering the flour from Langley Mill, Derbyshire.  Unfortunately the card has faded over the years, which is a shame because it is a lovely image.

The baskets on this rully contain fruit, though whether the chap will be selling it door to door or taking it to a shop it is hard to say as there are no means of identification.

With the horse decorated in this way one can only assume that it is either going to or coming back from a parade or show.  It certainly looks magnificent despite the basic flat bed rulley it is pulling.  Unfortunately there is nothing to identify where this photograph has been taken.

Unfortunately this card has seen better days.  But despite the damage and the photograph being faded you can still make out the well turned out horse and passengers probably on there way to a fete or event.  This shows the versatility of the rully, being adapted by the use of boxes and seats in to a passenger vehicle, though not as grand as a sociable or charabanc. The postcard was posted in December 1908 and sent to Mrs Thos Stevenson, Woodhead Yard, Cheadle, Staffordshire.  It reads "Kindly greetings for xmas and the new year with love to all from A&H."

Another decorated pair of horses pulling a rully carrying passengers rather than goods.

A reproduction postcard from the "Nostalgia" series.  "Liverpool, May 1912. In the hey-day of the cotton industry, raw cotton was imported by ship from India and transported to the Lancashire cotton mills for manufacturing into cloth.  this horse-drawn 'lurry' loaded with bales of cotton was on its way from the docks to the railhead."  What is amazing is that this huge load was pulled by two horses in tandem.  One would assume that the distance from the dock to the railhead was not too far as two horse power would not be able to pull this load for any great distance.

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. What is interesting is the type of horse shown here as you tend to expect the flat bed troley to be pulled by a heavier horse than this.  The photographer for this postcard was J.Barr. Hornsea.

Health and safety would have a field day with this scene today.  Could you imagine the uproar that would arise if our meat was to be cut up in this way.  Unfortunately there is nothing to locate this real photographic postcard and it has not been postally used.

The front of this rulley/lurrie has a canopy to protect the goods when needed.  Though this vehicle is not transporting anything the writing on the side suggests what it would be carrying as it says "Threapleton Bros. Dyers and Finishers. Park Mills, Wellington Street, Leeds."

This real photographic postcard clearly shows mans best friend, in this case a Springer Spaniel, accompanying this coalman on his deliveries.  It has been taken in some sidings as you can see at the top of the photograph to the right hand side the wheels of goods train that probably brings in the coal.  The locality is somewhere around the Hessle, Hull area as the photgraph has been taken by W. Martin Howell, Prestongate, Hessle. Unfortunately there are no other features to say who the coal man is.

This coal wagon is not as easy to offload the coal as the rulley oppostie however it can hold more sacks.  I would assume that this coal merchant, Fred Marsh which is written on the front as is "Best House Coals", has a large round and being able to carry more sacks than a lurry would mean that he did not keep having to go back to the yard to load up.  Unfortunately there is nothing to say where the locationis.

This rulley is different to the one above as it has a front rail to prevent the sacks falling forward on to the horse.  On the front is written the name "Beasure Coals" but I have been unable to locate where this coal merchant is from. The original postcard is very faded and has not been written on or postally used.

Here is a bow fronted wagon probably used for delivering coal.  Once again there is a loyal dog working alongside the coal merchant. Yet again we have no way of knowing who or where this is.

More bow fronted wagons delivering coal.  This type of vehicle tended to be used in the South whereas in the North they tended to use the rulley's and wagons for delivering coal. One reason could be that the sacks were larger in the South for the bigger houses and therefore needed the bow front to lean against to prevent spillage.

With the horse turned out in all this splendour, with plumes and horse brasses, I can only assume that it is being entered in to a show.  The sacks on the rulley would suggest this is a coal merchants turn out.