North Devon in 100 Objects: 22. The Elliott Ralli Car

A traditional cart, or Ralli Car, with large spoked yellow wheels, a black cart body and dark green cushions.

This little cart is a Ralli Car, made by Elliotts of Bideford around the turn of the 20th century.  Carts like this would once have been common in North Devon, used as a general run-around for families. It has back-to-back seating and space under the seats for luggage or shopping bags.

William Henry Elliott was born near Holsworthy in 1862 and apprenticed to a wheelwright at the age of 12. In 1886 he set up his first workshop in Bideford and by the 1890s he had his own premises on the Quay with living accommodation above.

The Elliott family holds a pocket book from the late 1880s with sketches and measurements of  commissions, many of which begin with the height of the horse or pony to be used.  The models built included Phaetons, Wagonettes, Gadabouts, Hearses, Jubilee Brakes, Buggies, Dog Carts, Gingles, Surreys and Round Cornered Gigs.

By 1903 William was based at Bridgeland Street where he was also making bicycles and even a few motorbikes. He took delivery of his first motor car in 1905. The transition to ‘horseless carriages’ accelerated and the firm became an agent for Clement-Talbot.  In 1916 an advertisement appeared announcing a discontinuation of all carriage work and that in future all activity would be centred on motor vehicles.

This cart was found by Herbert Elliott being used as a milk cart, somewhere near the top of Bideford.  The staff at the current Elliott’s garage on Kingsley Road renovated it and it was given to Arlington Court carriage museum before coming to Barnstaple.

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