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.