Bulletin 399

February, 2016

Talk and Demonstration by Barry Evans

Our speaker is a local lad from Hergest, and although originally fascinated by a Fordson tractor from a nearby farm – became enraptured by horse drawn farm vehicles from Hergest Court, and was soon familiar and friendly with the massive horses and teams used with them. Living locally he became familiar with the tremendous varieties of vehicles used in farming, and their transport needs, and began to acquire skills and equipment which allowed him to build scale models – of ploughs, carts, waggons, mobile cider presses, and even a recreation of a Napoleonic era field piece complete with limbers and tender. Problems mainly existed in trying to match available model horses to the precise scale of the recreation, so some allowances were appreciated.

The single wheel barrows, all in wood, were usually made by apprentices as their passing out job – and as such, were nicely finished and very durable, wooden wheels included. Two wheeled affairs were hand guided ploughs, horse drawn – two to four per team depending on the soil conditions. The all metal Ransomes plough marked the epitome of that era. Also on two wheels were carts, either flat bedded, or with a loading space, and probably within recent memory, such as milk carts and bread vans, drawn by a single horse, who usually knew the route better than the drivers, and was also susceptible to ‘remote control’. (i.e. “walk on”)

For lowland areas – two wheeled farm carts were O.K., but among proper hills, wheels could be replaced by skids or a sledge – no brakes needed.

A possible curiosity was the ‘hermaphrodite’, a vehicle originating with two wheels under a tipper body, but expands to 4 wheels by the addition of a flat deck in front for harvest time, with a neat arrangement allowing the shafts etc. to be replaced.

With four wheelers, we are into waggons proper, and eventually even coaches!

Waggon wheels were ‘dished’, to spread the load evenly, and to keep them close to the chassis, and tyre treads varied with road conditions and soil types, and being iron or steel, required close collaboration between wheelwrights and smiths – neighbours often by necessity. Apart from the tyre, the wooden wheel had an elm hub, oak spokes, and ash felloes for the circle – all chamfered not for decoration but for weight control.

The moveable front axle allowed steering – a quarter lock for a farm waggon being sufficient to get it through a field gateway, but delivery vans needing U turns in town streets, had small front wheels, which could turn under the chassis.

The one vehicle with which we are all still familiar is Turners Baker’s waggon, from the mill, said to be due for some attention. This could manage a considerable load, and following closure of the Kington Tramway, Turners had to get flour and malt etc. to Brecon with a four horse team, sufficient for that journey, all securely tethered to the shafts and whipple trees etc.

And so into the realm of romance – with the Mail Coaches – designed for speed and long distances, light in weight, hung on bouncy elliptic springs, and with 1½ minute change over times every 11 to 15 mile – managed by having the animals all harnessed to a single pole by traces, which could be quickly unhitched from just under the drivers’ seat, and replaced by those prepared and on stand by in the yard – and off they went.

So what about the Napoleonic era cannon? – all beautifully detailed – well I have put that down for use as a bird scarer – until sufficient small children were about for such purposes.


Next talk on Friday 19th Feb 7-30 pm at Kington primary School
We have the delight of Duncan James attending our Society and talking about our Historic market town of Kington. He has been looking at Historic houses in Kington and the way they have evolved in time So please come along and be enlightened by his words of wisdom. Not to be missed especially if you live in Kington, your house maybe one he has illustrated.

Summer outings

May 1st Sunday 3pm Tour of Dunfield House and grounds with afternoon tea £5 each Open to non members. Be aware there are steep steps to negotiate and water to cross in the grounds so sensible foot wear to be worn. If you feel you cannot explore the grounds do not be put of attending, there is still plenty to see on level ground and the panoramic view form the front of the house is breathtaking. So hopefully see you all on the day

Friday 17th June 1230 Tour of Brecon cathedral {Donations) 3pm Cruise on the Brecon canal with Dragon fly cruises £6.80 Cream tea £3.70
Parking charges apply in the town Bring a picnic or use one the many delightful tea rooms in Brecon including the Cathedral and the frontage on the canal.

If you are wishing to attend any of the above please book with Nancy Wheatland 01544 230691
Look out for a date for our July outing which will be in the form of a picnic up on Bradnor hill with an overview and display of some of the old maps that we have in our possession A super opportunity to compare the old and new of Kington with maps to see the town in a different perspective

Editor: Vera Harrison