| Back to main list | Back to JohnThompson Page|

FARM WAGGONS

Part of the fascination in the study of farm waggons is the great variety of styles in the various regions of England and Wales. Fifteen examples are listed below. Most of them were made in country workshops, by wheelwrights who were building in the traditional styles, which had been passed down for generations. Even the large factory vehicle builders followed similar designs, to appeal to the conservative tastes of their farmer customers. These waggons represent a genuine but defunct folk art form. Very few are now left apart from those in museums, and I like to feel that modelmakers are preserving this heritage when recreating the work of the village wheelwrights in miniature.

Northampton Waggon

Forest of Dean Waggon

Danish Farm Waggon

Barge Waggon

Hop Tug

Oxfordshire Waggon

Hampshire Waggon

Hermaphrodite

Lincolnshire Waggon

Essex Waggon

East Anglian Waggon

Hereford Waggon

Devon Chest Waggon

Devon Harvest Trolly

Glamorgan Waggon

Northampton Waggon Click here for list

I consider this to be one of the finest surviving English farm waggons, coming from a region where the massive Eastern style of box waggon merged with the finer lines of the Western types. The amount of work put into the complex structure and the care devoted to the decorative features are amazing. The paintwork is a beautiful deep orange, lined out in black. To quote James Arnold, "......the attention to finish and elaboration in chamfering was very marked, while the lettering and lining-out was exemplary".

Click picture to enlarge

Forest of Dean Waggon Click here for list

A very compact and strongly built waggon which belongs to the same family as the Hereford and Monmouthshire types, but is a good deal smaller. This is accounted for by the duties required of it - in the Forest many farmers were also involved in mining, and the waggon was used to haul coal as well as to get the hay crop in. Both a harvest frame and extension side and dashboards are shown on the plans, which were drawn by W. Kerr. The waggon was built in 1921 near Coleford, and is now privately owned.

Click picture to enlarge

Danish Waggon Click here for list

The continental waggons are very different in design from the British types, the main characteristic being the long "V" shape body, formed by loosely fitted side panels, and the heavily dished wheels canted outwards to clear the sides. While on holiday in Denmark I measured this waggon at "Den Fynske Landsby" (The Funen Village), an outdoor museum near Odense. A very simple model to build which is set off by the beautiful dished wheels.

Click picture to enlarge

Barge Waggon Click here for list

A typical barge waggon in general construction, but extensively decorated. This vehicle is now in the Jackson Collection at The Old Kiln Museum, Tilford, near Farnham. It has plank sides, and is fully locking. A patient modeller should enjoy cutting the chamfers which are on every possible edge. The waggon is varnished, with elaborate lining in black, white and red. Built in 1906 at the Royal Prize Works, Rothwell, Northhants. Details of shafts are included on the plans.

 
Click picture to enlarge

Hop Tug Click here for list

The high ladders at fore and rear ends are a feature of this unusual waggon - when loaded with sacks of hops or with hop poles it would have been as tall as it was long. For this type of load the open sided body was sufficient. The large wheel are 6ins. Wide, with a hoop tyre as well as a row of strakes. The waggon was used on a "Whitbread" hop farm in Kent, and is now at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum.

 
Click picture to enlarge

Oxfordshire Waggon Click here for list

To many people this is the epitome of the English farm waggon other types may be more elegant, but this survival from the days of village craftsmen seems to be a real expression of folk art. I was lucky to find an example which retains all the features of the early traditional types wooden axles, straked wheels, wooden side spindles and a long boarded floor laid on keys. It was probably built about 1830 and was repainted in 1918. It has not been renovated, and this has been an advantage to me in preparing the plans, as details of the original construction are clear to see. The waggon was used on Blackwood Farm, and is now in the Oxford County Museum collection at Cogges Manor Farm, near Witney.

Click picture to enlarge

Hampshire Waggon Click here for list

Constructed about 1900, probably by Hetherington of Alton, this is an elaborate waggon with an unusual undercarriage and double shafts. The lightness of the parts is compensated for by the multiplicity of rails and spindles in the sides and bed. It was thought to have been made by George Sturt of Farnham, however, a detailed examination has shown it to be so similar to Hetherington waggons recorded by James Arnold tha there can be little doubt that it came from the same workshop. A superb subject for someone who wants a wealth of detail. Either single or double shafts can be fitted. Now on permanent loan to The Old Kiln Museum, Tilford, near Farnham.

Click picture to enlarge

Hermaphrodite Click here for list

These unusual vehicles consisted of a two wheeled cart, with an extra pair of wheels and forecarriage which could be added to convert to a four wheeled vehicle when a large carrying platform was needed at harvest time. This example is at the Museum of English Rural Life at Reading, and was built in Lincolnshire in 1910 as one of a batch of six for 20 each. It is painted a reddish - orange, and the forepart is in better condition than the rear, as it would only have been used for part of the year. A model could be given added interest by being made to dismantle.
 

Click picture to enlarge

Lincolnshire Waggon Click here for list

The Lincolnshire waggon is closest in shape to the Dutch vehicles from which it is probable that the English farm waggon evolved, and indeed the family resemblance to the American Conestoga waggon is quite plain to see. This example was built by Clayton of Stainby in 1889, and whilst showing many features typical of the Lincolnshire waggons it has some interesting variations, including a most unusual and ingenious design to the bed.

Click picture to enlarge

Essex Plank-Sided Waggon Click here for list

This is a heavy waggon, with massive curved timbers in the underframe to give the waisted sides. It has plank sides, with wooden strouters, and is fitted with harvest ladders, a dog-stick and drug shoe. The waggon was acquired in 1974 by the Old Kiln Museum, Tilford, near Farnham. It is in fair condition, and still has much of the original paint – the white with black lining which was common in Essex.

 

Click picture to enlarge

East Anglian Waggon Click here for list

This massive and stately vehicle dates from 1850, when it was built at Maplestead in North Essex. It is typical of the traditional style built in Suffolk and North Essex, with high panelled sides and a heavy waisted frame. Both the large rear and smaller front wheels are straked, and have wooden axles. There are fittings for double shafts and a carrier's seat, so it will have been used as a road waggon as well as for farm duties. This waggon was completely rebuilt in the workshops of the Museum of English Rural Life, and is now in the reserve collection of the Science Museum at Wroughton.

 

Click picture to enlarge

Hereford Waggon Click here for list

A small sized plank sided waggon, which was built in 1880 for Thomas Tunks of Homer, Herefordshire, now in the reserve collection of the Museum of English Rural Life, Reading. This is a straightforward waggon to model having plank sides and no sideboards, but there is a pleasing sweep to the sides derived from the shape of the traditional panel-sided waggon, and emphasised by groves in the sides representing the defunct midrails. A large harvest frame is fitted.

 

Click picture to enlarge

Devon Chest Waggon Click here for list

Typical of the compact box-waggons of East Devon and Cornwall, this neat little vehicle has a well defined history. It was built in 1891 at Broadwood Kelly. Near Winkleigh, for Mr. Padden of Colson Farm, who paid 9.10s. - a bargain price even in those days. It was used until 1945 on the same farm. The waggon has rope rollers and provision for harvest ladders, so that with the spindled sides and nicely chamfered woodwork there is plenty of detail for an interesting model.

Click picture to enlarge

Devon Harvest Trolley Click here for list

Vehicles similar to this were used all over the country in the early years of the century, when increased labour costs made it uneconomic to build elaborate farm waggons. This particular trolley is typical of the smaller type favoured in the hilly Devon farms. There are rope rollers on the rear for securing the bulky loads. The trolley can be seen at the entrance to Riverford Farm near Totnes.

 

 

Click picture to enlarge

Glamorgan Waggon Click here for list

A most elegant waggon - it is astonishing that such intricate workmanship should have been put into a farm vehicle, but as Geraint Jenkins explains "In Glamorgan waggons were regarded almost as family heirlooms and in the Cowbridge district their first journey after delivery from the wheelwright was to take the family to a place of worship on a Sunday". This waggon was built about 1870 by Richard Aubrey of Cowbridge. It has now been beautifully renovated, and is on display at St. Fagans. The waggon has panelled sides, with full bowed raves over rear wheels. Note the spindled aperture over each end.

 

 

Click picture to enlarge

| Back to top of page | Back to main list | Back to John Thompson Page |