North Devon in 100 Objects: 44. A Pedigree Perambulator

A 1940s black and cream perambulator.

This 1940s black and cream perambulator was rescued from recycling and passed to the museum in 2006. It was originally supplied by “Arch Jones, Barnstaple”, from a shop on the High Street where Boots is now.

Prams were first made as special commissions from coachbuilders in the 18th century. In the early 20th century they became more common and were often sold alongside bicycles and even motorcycles.  Archibald Jones was a bicycle maker and agent in 1901 and his shop was up and running by 1911, staying in business for over half a century.

The pram has a round, deep body and simple linear decoration. The rubber tyred wheels are the same size front and back, something which changed in the 1950s when the body design became more boat shaped. The baby’s ride is made more comfortable by large coach springs held to the body by leather straps.

The fold-down hood with chrome hinges is made from oilcloth, as is the apron covering the front of the pram. This could be pulled up to protect the baby from wind and rain.  Studs on the side and back of the hood could secure a cat net, important as babies were often left outside in the garden for the fresh air.

Prams were expensive: this one would have cost around £350 in today’s money.  They were often resold or passed on to family members or neighbours.  This one probably housed many babies during its lifetime, some of whom are quite possibly walking around Barnstaple today.

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