| Back to main list | Back to JohnThompson Page |


By the early 1900s there was an incredible variety of trade vehicles on town and city streets, many of them with distinctive and colourful paintwork and signwriting. Perhaps more than any other vehicle these trade turnouts evoke the mood of the era when every day life depended on the horse.

Garden Seat Omnibus

Norwegian Sleigh

"Brook Bond" London Van

Costermongers Barrow

Farm Dairy Float

Carlsberg Beer-waggon

Bakers Cart Milk Pram

Lancashire Coal Cart

Garden Seat Omnibus Click here for list

The London street scene in Edwardian time was dominated by the horse-bus, with over 3000 on the road - nearly half being run by the London General Omnibus Company. The vehicle, which I have drawn, was built by this company and is now in the London Transport Museum. Because of the arduous "stop-start" duty, heavy loads and uneven surfaces there evolved a vehicle, which was acknowledged to be a masterpiece of carriagebuilding. I would place this bus high on the list of "classic" vehicles, whose fitness for purpose makes them stand out above the common run. Others on the list would include the Mail Coach, the Hansom Cab, the American Concord Coach, and the Model T Ford. For the modelmaker this is an ambitious project, full of interest. The seats on the open top, the outside stairs and platform, all provide a wealth of features, set of by the period advertisements. The plans include 18 photographs, full interior detail and colour scheme.

Click picture to enlarge

Norwegian Sleigh Click here for list

Those of you who find difficulty in constructing wheels should welcome this plan, but it has some features, which will pose interesting problems for the modelmaker. The body is woven from cane, and with patience this could be reproduced in miniature or wood panels could be substituted. The reindeer hide wraps add an attractive finishing touch. The sleigh is now in the collection at the Model Farm Museum near Chepstow in Gwent.


Click picture to enlarge

"Brooke Bond" London Van Click here for list

Brooke Bond had a fleet of covered vans, operated for them by Lloyds, the haulage contractors. The green painted vans were well liked by the carters for there sound design and running qualities, and were a familiar sight on London streets until 1916. This example is in the Science Museum. It is an excellent subject for a model, even for a relative beginner, because although the structure is interesting it is easy to construct and straightforward to follow on the plan.


Click picture to enlarge

Costermongers Barrow Click here for list

This is a barrow of the traditional London style, many of which are still in use today. The barrows are usually hired out by the builders, who have there names carved on in several places to ensure the barrow does not go astray. The example I have measured is on display in Maidstone Carriage Museum.



Click picture to enlarge

Farm Dairy Float Click here for list

This float is typical of those used in rural areas, and is simple in construction and equipment. It belongs to a farmer in Barnstaple in Devon, who had a dairy shop in the town. The wheels had been replaced by 'pneumatics', but I have shown the original wooden wheels on the plan.


Click picture to enlarge

Carlsberg Beer-waggon Click here for list

Carlsberg breweries in both Denmark and Canada maintain their famous beer-waggons, which are half as large again as the English type of dray. As well as being 'exhibited' at horse shows and fairs they are used for deliveries in several Danish cities - I photographed this one in Aalborg, and prepared the drawings with the aid of a builder's specification plan. The livery is particularly attractive, being basically white, signwritten in red and green, and with a varnished "barrel end" at the rear. Because of the size of the vehicle, and to suite continental modelmakers who prefer a metric scale, this plan is drawn to 1/10th scale, and the impressive model is 23 inches long.

Click picture to enlarge

Bakers Cart Click here for list

Carts of this style, with ventilated bodies, were used by bakers, butchers and fishmongers for their deliveries in prosperous districts. They were built and finished to nearly the same standards as private traps. This beautifully restored example is on display in the collection of Ken Jones at the Seal Sanctuary, Gweek, near Helston in Cornwall. A similar vehicle in the 1904 "Bristol Carriage Works" catalogue was described as a "London Butchers Cart", and cost £25. The body is dark blue, with mahogany louvres and brass fittings.


Click picture to enlarge

Milk Pram Click here for list

This beautiful little milk pram is typical of those which were used in towns all over Britain. Originally owned by Rose Farm Dairy in Fleet, it in now at the Old Kiln Museum at Tilford, near Farnham, and has been repainted in the livery of a local dairy. The plans detail the brass churn, the cans and measures. Together with the costermongers barrow this milk pram forms the start of a collection of handcarts which I intend to draw. (Sadly, this promise will not be fulfilled. John Thompson died in 1995).


Click picture to enlarge

Lancashire Coal Cart Click here for list

The text which accompanied this plan in the "Coachbuilders and Wheelwrights Art Journal" of 1905 said of the carts that "…they are built especially strong, this on account of the rough setts with which so many of the Lancashire roads are paved, especially in the colliery districts". As no horse could be expected to hold back a load of 2 tons on a hill, the cart has nave brakes and the plan shows the mechanism in clear detail. Removable extension boards are also shown, to allow for bulky loads of coke.

Click picture to enlarge

| Back to top of page | Back to main list | Back to JohnThompson Page |