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Horse Drawn Ambulance Restoration.

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Another Classic Horse Drawn Vehicle.

Restored by the Friends' Volunteers in the Projects Workshop.

Historical Background.

Photograph: 1913 Horse-Drawn Ambulance

Photograph: Typical horse drawn ambulance of about 1913.
With alternative description for non graphics or blind users.

Coal mines have always been dangerous work places and serious injuries were common. In the North East of England, in the early part of last century, a horse drawn ambulance would be used to take seriously injured miners to the local hospital for treatment.

War is also dangerous and horse drawn ambulances for wounded soldiers have been used in many conflicts by many nations worldwide.

Horse Drawn Ambulance.

Chronological History of Project Reports.

(First printed in the Friends' Newsletters.)

photograph: Horse Ambulance.

Photograph: Volunteer Friends working on the ambulance in the Restoration Workshop.
With alternative description for non graphics or blind users.

Summer 2002 Report.

(First printed in the Friends' Newsletter Summer 2002.)

An ambulance made in Preston Village, North Shields by Charles Foot, is undergoing a full rebuild.

It was made to be drawn by one horse and so is of light weight construction, because, with a patient, an attendant and the driver little weight could be afforded in the vehicle itself.

It is stripped down to its framework and the metalwork has been sent off for blast cleaning. The wheels, which were sound, are being given new channels for the solid rubber tyres.

New tyres are being made to replace the worn black rubber ones which were fitted. The new tyres will be of white rubber, which was probably the colour of the original tyres. These are currently being made for us, and it is intended that white tyring will then be available for others to use also, should they wish to return to an original colour.

The other colour originally available was red and, when we next need tyres, we can now also have them in that colour, using the same die, which has been made for us.

The ambulance was originally owned by Bell Brothers, Browney Collieries Ltd., which we believe was at Browney, near Brandon. The Museum got it from Bristol Museums and we wondered how it had got that far south. When it was being stripped a note was found which had been lost behind one of the fittings. It indicated that the vehicle was being used as a caravan, which is probably the explanation for its wandering so far from home.

Whilst seeking information about horse drawn -ambulances, we heard of another in the Tom Leonard Mining Museum at Skinningrove. Imagine the astonishment when we looked at it, to find that it was originally owned by Bell Brothers, too.

If anyone has any information about Bell Brothers or about Charles Foot the carriage builder, we would be delighted to hear from them.

Autumn 2002 Report.

(First printed in the Friends' Newsletter Autumn 2002.)

The Charles Foot ambulance is making progress. Most of the mahogany panels have been stripped of the paint which had been put on to them and the rotten bits of ash in the body frame are being replaced.

All the metal work and springs are now blast cleaned and primed and the springs have been reset.

The glass panels in the body sides had all been replaced with clear glass, presumably when it was converted into a caravan. Fortunately, the panels in the rear doors were original, and one of them has been used to have correct replacements made for the sides, by Ramsay Studio Glass of Consett.

Summer 2003 Report.

The ambulance is ready to be re-panelled. Much of the mahogany panelling was split and finding r e p 1 a c e m e n t timber has not been easy, because of the restrictions on the export of mahogany and the width of the wood needed.

We managed to find a supply of suitable wood and then had to find someone with machinery capable of working it, at a width of nearly two feet, down to a quarter inch thickness.

These problems solved and the first side has been panelled, adding greatly to the stiffness of the body frame= a sort of monocoque construction.

Autumn 2003 Report.

(First printed in the Friends' Newsletter Autumn 2003.)

I hope that by now you will have been able to read an impressive supplement in the Newcastle Evening Chronicle, with colour photographs of the horse drawn ambulance, which we are rebuilding, and of the group of volunteers who are doing the work.

The supplement will be excellent publicity for the Friends and the Museum. The fabric of the ambulance is well on the way to completion, leaving the more difficult matter of deciding how to fit out the interior.

Once again, any knowledge that anyone might have of the interior fittings of a similar ambulance will be well received.

Winter 2003.

We obtained excellent publicity from an article in Issue 12 of the Evening Chronicle 'Remember When' publication. There were four sides about the group of volunteers which is restoring the horse drawn ambulance. The opportunity was created when Stan Urwin, one of the group, wrote to the newspaper following its publishing a photograph of a similar ambulance.

The structural rebuild of the vehicle is now almost complete, but we are searching for information about the interior fittings, all of which are missing. If you have any information you think might help, we'd like to hear from you.

End of page.


Text Equivalent of the Photographs on This Page.

Screen Reader version for people who cannot see the image for what ever reason.

Photograph: A similar horse drawn ambulance of about 1913.

Black and white photograph of a man standing in a urban roadway with a horse drawn ambulance. At the very left edge the man stands looking into the camera. He has a trilby hat, a dark overcoat with dark trousers and boots.

The horse and ambulance are facing to the left of the picture showing a slight angle toward the camera so that the front of the vehicle can be seen. The man holds the horses head with his left hand. The horse who wears blinkers is mostly dark coloured except for white patches on its nose and hooves.

The ambulance cart occupies the whole of the right hand side. The body is a square box shape with a white roof line. The framework of the body is highlighted with lighter coloured line between which are six darker panels. The centre panel in the side having a small square window.

The front of the ambulance is less clear but is also panelled in the same way with the frame showing in lighter colour. There appears to be some type of seat for a driver but the details are not clear.

The ambulance has two small wheels at the front and two much larger wheels at the rear of the ambulance. All have dark thin spokes. Underneath can be seen features of axles and springs.

The road is cobbled and behind the ambulance on the left is a high wooden fence with a suggestion of a pavement in front. On the right background and across the left in the distance are a row of multistory grey buildings with lots of small white windows. In the background is also a structure set high above the ground level but too distant to see details. TEXT.

Photograph: Working on the Beamish horse drawn ambulance.

Men in a large workshop working on the body of a horse drawn ambulance. On the left a man in white overalls is standing in front of a tall thin rectangle of light that appears to be the edge of a large doorway leading to the outside of the building.

Between this man and the centre of the photograph and nearer the camera a person wearing an orange overall stands leaning over a small bench. A top of a small chair is just visible in the foreground with some undefined small structures. Just behind indistinct figures can be seen in the background standing close to the workshop wall.

The right half of the photograph shows the body of the ambulance supported on tressles. Only one side of the body can be seen. There is a light coloured framework making up the box shape structure of the body with dark brown panels between.

One large wheel is propped up in front of the body. It has a light brown rim, white tyres and many thin light brown spokes with a black hub in the centre. TEXT.


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