A carriage is a wheeled vehicle for people, usually horse-drawn. It is especially designed for private passenger use and for comfort or elegance, though some are also used to transport goods. It may be light, smart and fast or heavy, large and comfortable. Carriages normally have suspension using leaf springs, elliptical springs (in the 19th century) or leather strapping. A public passenger vehicle would not usually be called a carriage – terms for these include stagecoach, charabanc and omnibus. The Pallenquin is a horseless carriage.

The word "carriage" (abbreviated "carr" or "cge") is from Old Northern French "cariage", to carry in a vehicle."Oxford English Dictionary" 1933: Car, Carriage] The word "car", then meaning a kind of two-wheeled cart for goods, also came from Old Northern French about the beginning of the 14th century; it was also used for railway carriages, and was extended to cover "automobile" around the end of the nineteenth century, when early models were called "horseless carriages".

A carriage is sometimes called a "team", as in "horse and team". A carriage with its horse is a "rig". An elegant horse-drawn carriage with its retinue of servants is an "equipage". A carriage together with the horses, harness and attendants is a "turnout" or "setout". A procession of carriages is a "cavalcade".

History of carriages

Some horsecarts found in Celtic graves show hints that their platform was suspended in a frame, elastically. [cite paper | author=Raimund Karl | title=Überlegungen zum Verkehr in der eisenzeitlichen Keltiké (Deliberations on Traffic in the Ironage Celtic Culture | version= | format=.PDF | publisher=Universität Wien | language=German | url= | date=2003 | accessdate=2008-01-30] First century BCE Romans used sprung wagons for overland journeys. [cite paper | author=Jochen Garbsch | title=Restoration of a Roman travelling wagon and of a wagon from the Hallstadt bronze culture | url= | publisher=Leibniz-Rechenzentrum München | format=.HTML | language=German | date=June 1986 | accessdate=2008-01-29] With the decline of the these civilizations these techniques almost disappeared.

In the Middle Ages all travellers who were not walking rode, save the elderly and the infirm. A trip in an unsprung cart over unpaved roads was not lightly undertaken. Closed carriages began to be more widely used by the upper classes in the 16th century. In 1601 a short-lived law was passed in England banning the use of carriages by men, it being considered effeminate.Fact|date=April 2008 Better sprung vehicles were developed in the 17th century. New lighter and more fashionably varied conveyances, with fanciful new names, began to compete with one another from the mid-18th century. Coachbuilders cooperated with carvers, gilders, painters, lacquerworkers, glazers and upholsterers to produce not just the family's state coach for weddings and funerals but light, smart fast comfortable vehicles for pleasure riding and display.

In British and French coaches, the coachman drove from a raised coachbox at the front. In Spain the driver continued to ride one of the horses, as also in the 1939 state visit procession in Canada.

From the 1860s, few rich Europeans continued to use their posting coaches for long-distance travel: a first-class railway carriage was the faster modern alternative. Then, in the 1890s, just as automobiles came into use, "coaching" became an upper-class sport in Britain and America, where gentlemen would take the reins of the kinds of large vehicles of types generally driven by a professional coachman.

Carriage construction


Carriages may be enclosed or open, depending on the type. [cite web | author= | title=Horse Carriage Parts Horse Drawn Vehicle | url= | publisher=Great Northern Livery Company, Inc. | date=2003-10-30 | accessdate=2008-01-30] The top cover for the body of a carriage, called the "head" or "hood", is often flexible and designed to be folded back when desired. Such a folding top is called a "bellows top" or "calash". A "hoopstick" forms a light framing member for this kind of hood. The top, roof or second-story compartment of a closed carriage, especially a diligence, was called an "imperial". A closed carriage may have side windows called "quarter lights" (British) as well as windows in the doors. On the forepart of an open carriage, a screen of wood or leather called a "dashboard" intercepts water, mud or snow thrown up by the heels of the horses. The dashboard or carriage top sometimes has a projecting sidepiece called a "wing" (British). A "foot iron" or "footplate" may serve as a carriage step.

A carriage driver sits on a "box" or "perch", usually elevated and small. When at the front it is known as a "dickey box", a term also used for a seat at the back for servants. A footman might use a small platform at the rear called a "footboard" or a seat called a " rumble" behind the body. Some carriages have a moveable seat called a "jump seat". Some seats had an attached backrest called a "lazyback".

The shafts of a carriage were called "limbers" in English dialect. "Lancewood", a tough elastic wood of various trees, was often used especially for carriage shafts. A "holdback", consisting of an iron catch on the shaft with a looped strap, enables a horse to back or hold back the vehicle. The end of the tongue of a carriage is suspended from the collars of the harness by a bar called the "yoke". At the end of a trace, a loop called a "cockeye" attaches to the carriage.

In some carriage types the body is suspended from several leather straps called "braces" or "thoroughbraces", attached to or serving as springs.


Beneath the carriage body is the "undergear" or "undercarriage" (or simply "carriage"), consisting of the running gear and chassis. [cite web | author= | title=Basic Carriage Gear Horse Drawn Vehicles | url= | publisher=Great Northern Livery Company, Inc. | date=2003-11-02 | accessdate=2008-01-30] The wheels and axles, in distinction from the body, are the "running gear". Most carriages have either one or two pairs of wheels. On a four-wheeled vehicle, the forward part of the running gear, or "forecarriage", may be arranged so as to permit the two front wheels to turn independently of the rear wheels. The wheels revolve upon bearings or a spindle at the ends of a fixed bar or beam called an "axle" or "axletree". In some carriages a "crank axle", bent twice at a right angle near the ends, allows a low body with large wheels. A guard called a "dirtboard" keeps dirt from the axle arm.

Several structural members form parts of the chassis supporting the carriage body. The fore axletree and the splinter bar above it (supporting the springs) are united by a piece of wood or metal called a "futchel", which forms a socket for the pole that extends from the front axle. For strength and support, a rod called the "backstay" may extend from either end of the rear axle to the reach, the pole or rod joining the hind axle to the forward bolster above the front axle.

A skid called a "drag", "dragshoe", "shoe" or "skidpan" retards the motion of the wheels. A catch or block called a "trigger" may be used to hold a wheel on a declivity.

A horizontal wheel or segment of a wheel called a "fifth wheel" sometimes forms an extended support to prevent the carriage from tipping; it consists of two parts rotating on each other about the kingbolt above the fore axle and beneath the body. A block of wood called a "headblock" might be placed between the fifth wheel and the forward spring.

Types of horse-drawn carriages

An almost bewildering variety of horse-drawn carriages existed. Arthur Ingram's "Horse Drawn Vehicles since 1760 in Colour" lists 325 types with a short description of each. By the early 19th century one's choice of carriage was only in part based on practicality and performance; it was also a status statement and subject to changing fashions. The types of carriage included the following:

The names of many of these have now been relegated to obscurity but some have been adopted to describe automotive car body styles: "coupé," "victoria," "Brougham," "landau" and "landaulet", "cabriolet," (giving us our "cab"), "phaeton," and "limousine" – all these once denoted particular types of carriages.

Carriage miscellany

A man whose business was to drive a carriage was a "coachman". A servant in livery called a "footman" or "piquer" formerly served in attendance upon a rider or was required to run before his master's carriage to clear the way. An attendant on horseback called an "outrider" often rode ahead of or next to a carriage. A "carriage starter" directed the flow of vehicles taking on passengers at the curbside. A "hackneyman" hired out horses and carriages. When hawking wares, a "hawker" was often assisted by a carriage.

Upper-class people of wealth and social position, those wealthy enough to keep carriages, were referred to as "carriage folk" or "carriage trade".

Carriage passengers often used a "lap robe" as a blanket or similar covering for their legs, lap and feet. A "buffalo robe", made from the hide of an American bison dressed with the hair on, was sometimes used as a carriage robe; it was commonly trimmed to rectangular shape and lined on the skin side with fabric. A "carriage boot", fur-trimmed for winter wear, was made usually of fabric with a fur or felt lining. A "knee boot" protected the knees from rain or splatter.

A horse especially bred for carriage use by appearance and stylish action is called a "carriage horse"; one for use on a road is a "road horse". One such breed is the "Cleveland Bay", uniformly bay in color with black points and legs, of good conformation and strong constitution. Horses were broken in using a bodiless carriage frame called a "break" or "brake".

A "carriage dog" or "coach dog" is bred for running beside a carriage.

A roofed structure that extends from the entrance of a building over an adjacent driveway and that shelters callers as they get in or out of their vehicles is known as a "carriage porch" or "porte cochere". An outbuilding for a carriage is a "coach house".

A "livery stable" kept horses and usually carriages for hire. A range of stables, usually with "carriage houses" ("remises") and living quarters built around a yard, court or street, is called a "mews".

A kind of dynamometer called a "peirameter" indicates the power necessary to haul a carriage over a road or track.

Competitive driving

In most European and English-speaking countries, driving is a competitive equestrian sport. Many horse shows host driving competitions for a particular style of driving, breed of horse, or type of vehicle. Show vehicles are usually carriages, carts, or buggies, and occasionally sulkies or wagons. Terminology varies; the simple, lightweight two- or four-wheeled show vehicle common in many nations is called a "cart" in the USA, but a "carriage" in Australia.

Internationally, there is intense competition in the all-around test of driving: Combined driving, also known as "Horse Driving Trials" is an equestrian discipline regulated by the FEI ("Federation Equestre Internationale", International Equestrian Federation) with national organizations representing each member country. World Championships take place on alternate years, including Single Horse Championships, Horse Pairs Championships and Four-in-Hand Championships as well as the Four-in-Hand competition at the World Equestrian Games, held every four years.

For pony drivers, the World Combined Pony Championships are held every two years and include singles, pairs and four-in-hand.

Carriage collections

* [ Cobb + Co Museum - National Carriage Collection,] Queensland Museum, Toowoomba, Queensland. On-line catalog has photos and textAustria
* [ Museen Laa - Carriage Museum - Info - © Museen Laa Projekt-Team,] Laa an der Thaya
* [ Museum of Carriages and Department of Court Uniforms,] Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna Belgium
* [ vzw Rijtuigmuseum] , Bree, LimburgEngland
* Mossman Collection, Luton, Bedfordshire
** [ Website] Text
* [ Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace, London.] The Monarchy Today > Ceremony and symbol > Transport > Carriages
* [ Swingletree Carriage Collection.] John Parker Swingletree Carriage Driving, Swingletree, Wingfield, Nr. Diss, NorfolkFrance
*Palace of Versailles
** [ The Versailles Stables] Germany
* [ Museum of Carriages and Sleighs in the former Royal Stables (Marstallmuseum),] Nymphenburg Palace, MunichPortugal
* National Coach Museum ("Museu dos Coches"), Lisbon
** [ NCM - Collection.] Illustrations and textUnited States
* [ Florida Carriage Museum,] Weirsdale, Florida. Formerly Austin Carriage Museum. Photos and text: click on "The Carriage Museum", then on "Classification of Carriages"
* [ The Carriage Collection of the Owls Head Transportation Museum,] Owls Head, Maine. Celebrating Transportation History for 30 Years
* [ The Carriage Museum] Washington, Kentucky
* Carriage Museum of America, Lexington, Kentucky
** [ Carriage Museum Library] Online catalog of extensive research library on animal-drawn vehicles; illustrations and text
** [ Carriage museums] Descriptions and Web links, searchable by country and state
* Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, Michigan
** [ Horse Drawn Vehicles] Exhibit samples (photos and text)
* [ The Long Island Museum of American Art, History & Carriages,] Stony Brook, New York
** [ Collection Database] Searchable illustrations and text
* Pioneer Village, Farmington, Utah. [ Carriage Hall]
* [ Thrasher Carriage Museum:: Make The Journey:: Frostburg, Maryland]

ee also

*Driving (horse)
*Horse-drawn vehicle


*Bean, Heike, & Sarah Blanchard (authors), Joan Muller (illustrator), "Carriage Driving: A Logical Approach Through Dressage Training", Howell Books, 1992. ISBN 978-0764572999
*Berkebile, Don H., "American Carriages, Sleighs, Sulkies, and Carts: 168 Illustrations from Victorian Sources", Dover Publications, 1977. ISBN 978-0486233284
*Bristol Wagon Works Co., "Bristol Wagon & Carriage Illustrated Catalog, 1900", Dover Publications, 1994. ISBN 978-0486281230
*Elkhart Manufacturing Co., "Horse-Drawn Carriage Catalog, 1909" (Dover Pictorial Archives), Dover Publications, 2001. ISBN 978-0486415314
*Hutchins, Daniel D., "Wheels Across America: Carriage Art & Craftsmanship", Tempo International Publishing Company, 1st edition, 2004. ISBN 978-0974510606
*Ingram, Arthur, "Horse Drawn Vehicles since 1760 in Colour", Blandford Press, 1977. ISBN 978-0713708202
*Kinney, Thomas A., "The Carriage Trade: Making Horse-Drawn Vehicles in America" (Studies in Industry and Society), The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004. ISBN 978-0801879463
*Lawrence, Bradley & Pardee, "Carriages and Sleighs: 228 Illustrations from the 1862 Lawrence, Bradley & Pardee Catalog", Dover Publications, 1998. ISBN 978-0486402192
*Museums at Stony Brook, "The Carriage Collection", Museums, 2000. ISBN 978-0943924090
*Richardson, M.T., "Practical Carriage Building", Astragal Press, 1994. ISBN 978-1879335509
*Ryder, Thomas (author), Rodger Morrow (editor), "The Coson Carriage Collection at Beechdale", The Carriage Association of America, 1989. ASIN B0017RSRJ6
*Wackernagel, Rudolf H., "Wittelsbach State and Ceremonial Carriages: Coaches, Sledges and Sedan Chairs in the Marstallmuseum Schloss Nymphenburg", Arnoldsche Verlagsanstalt GmbH, 2002. ISBN 978-3925369865
*Walrond, Sallie, "Looking at Carriages", J A Allen & Co Ltd, 1999. ISBN 978-0851315522
*Ware, I. D., "Coach-Makers' Illustrated Hand-Book, 1875: Containing Complete Instructions in All the Different Braches of Carriage Building", Astragal Press, 2nd edition, 1995. ISBN 978-1879335615


External links

* [ "19th century American carriages: Their manufacture, decoration and use".] By Museums at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, NY, 1987. Long Island Digital Books Project, CONTENTdm Collection, Stony Brook University, Southampton, New York.
* [ 19th Century Transportation-Carriages.] University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
* [ All About Romance Novels - Carriages in Regency & Victorian Times.]
* [ Appendix to Cadillac "Styling" section (coaching terminology).] The Classic Car-Nection: Yann Saunders, Cadillac Database. Drawings and text
* [ CAAOnline: Carriage Tour] Carriage Association of America. Photos and text.
* [ Calisphere - A World of Digital Resources.] Search "carriage". University of California. Hundreds of photos.
* [ Carriage House] and [ Carriage parts.] ThinkQuest Library. Illustrations and text.
* [ Colonial Carriage Works - America's Finest Selection of Horse Drawn Vehicles.] Columbus, Wisconsin.
* [ "Driving for Pleasure, Or The Harness Stable and its Appointments" by Francis Underhill, 1896.] Carnegie Mellon University. A comprehensive overview, with photographs of horse drawn carriages in use at the turn of the 19th century. Full text free to read, with free full text search.
* [ "An Encyclopædia of Domestic Economy, Comprising Subjects Connected with the Interests of Every Individual"..., by Thomas Webster and William Parkes, 1855.] Book XXIII, Carriages. Google Book Search.
* [ Doctor Brown with horses and carriage, Charters Towers, ca. 1890] This photo is held by John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.
* [ "English Pleasure Carriages: Their Origin, History, Varieties, Materials, Construction, Defects, Improvements, and Capabilities: With an Analysis of the Construction of Common Roads and Railroads, and the Public Vehicles Used on Them; Together with Descriptions of New Inventions" by William Bridges Adams, 1837.] Google Book Search.
* [ Four wheeled vehicles.] The Guild of Model Wheelwrights.
* [ Galaxy of Images | Smithsonian Institution Libraries.] Carriages and sleighs.
* [ Georgian Index - Carriages.] Georgian Index. Illustrations and text.
* [ "The History of Coaches", by George Athelstane Thrupp, 1877.] Google Book Search.
* [ Horse-drawn Transportation Clipart etc.] Educational Technology Clearinghouse, University of South Florida. Drawings.
* [ JASNA Northern California Region.] Jane Austen Society of North America. Illustrations and text.
* [ The Kinross Carriageworks, Stirling (Scotland), 1802-1966.]
* [ Lexique du cheval! Lexikon of Carriage driving] .
* [ "Modern carriages", by W. Gilbey, 1905.] The University of Hong Kong Libraries, China–America Digital Academic Library (CADAL).
* [ Online Information article about "carriage"] Originally appearing in the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica.
* [ Passenger Vehicles] The Guild of Model Wheelwrights. Illustrations and text.
* [ Science and Society Picture Library - Search] Illustrations and text.
* [ "Treatise on Carriages. Comprehending Coaches, Chariots, Phaetons, Curricles, Whiskeys, &c. Together with Their Proper Harness. In Which the Fair Prices of Every Article are Accurately Stated", by William Felton, coachmaker, 1794.] Google Book Search.
* [ TTM web] Texas Transportation Museum, San Antonio. Photos and text.
* [ Wheeled vehicles.] The New York Times, October 29, 1871, page 2.

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