When David and Gus visited Mr. Hemmett they had an unexpected find. Not only was there the small tip-cart but other full sized farm wagons. The first that David looked at was a double shafted Lincolnshire wagon designed for the flat lands of that county and too big and heavy for his Suffolk mare of 16.2 hands. But tucked at the back under a tarpaulin was the ideal vehicle – a Norfolk wagon that could take either a single or double shaft and was suitable for the smaller draught horse.
While the low down delivery wagon is an improvement, the objectionable features are increased. But with all those objections the low down wagons increase every year. Their convenience outweighs all other objections. They are handy for country delivery and are fitted up inside to suit either grocers, bakers, butchers or milk delivery, or a combination of the four.
Forgive me for what will be a rather rambling and maybe melancholy submission. Maybe I am actually writing this for me. You decide. Life is not always success and joy. It is tempered with tough times. So, when Shannon asked me if I had anything to contribute to this upcoming issue, I had to think through what would benefit us as readers. Sometimes sharing our weak moments, our vulnerabilities, our failures and experience strengthen others. That is really what I want to do, strengthen.
The Marsden Hayrack was likely built in the early 20th century and was used in various forms until the mid-60’s. Sometimes called a “basket rack,” it wasn’t glamorous, so few pictures exist. One from 1953 shows it in the farm yard and it still had its original wood wheels and running gear. By the 1990’s little remained. I was able to bring to my shop the front axle, hounds, sand beam, tongue and one wheel. Fortunately, I was able to get all 4 sets of skeins and boxings for the wheels.
The first step was to decide on an appropriate chassis, or “running gear.” Eventually I chose to go with the real deal, a wooden-wheeled gear with leaf springs rather than pneumatic tires. Wooden wheels last forever with care and are functional and look the part. I bought an antique delivery wagon that had been left outdoors as an ornament. I was able to reuse some of the wheels and wooden parts of the running gear.
When horses were the main source of power on every farm, in the British Isles it was the tip-cart, rather than the wagon which was the most common vehicle, and for anyone farming with horses, it is still an extremely useful and versatile piece of equipment. The farm cart was used all over the country, indeed in some places wagons were scarcely used at all, and many small farms in other areas only used carts.