Coachlines - April 2023

27.04.23 Liveryman David Barzilay

Traditional carriage auctions still buoyant after more than 60 years at Thimbleby and Shorland

For more than 60 years Reading auctioneers Thimbleby and Shorland has been running its renowned carriage sales in Reading and Saturday 1st March was no exception. Some 70 carriages of various descriptions went under the hammer along with harness, tack, horse brasses, lamps, and a selection of saddlers’ and harness makers’ tools.

Carriages come up for sale at various shows and auction houses, but Thimbleby and Shorland is one of the last auction houses to run specific sales during the year.

The famous T&S carriage sales began in the 1960s. The first carriage sale open to all vendors came in 1965 and they continue to the present day. There are now two sales annually in Reading.

In all, some 25,000 carriages have passed through the firm’s hands, selling to people from all walks of life. Over the years, carriages, sets of harness, sundry accoutrements, and anything else related to the art of carriage driving, have been bought and sold by clients from around the globe. Heavy Horse vehicles, harness, and related items are also included, plus general saddlery and tack.

Highlights from the March sale included:

Lot 16 – Open lot caravan built by N Smith of Doncaster in the late 1930s on a dray by Whittaker & Hutchinson of Bradford built in 1870 (the date is stamped on the axles). Largely in the same condition that it was in when purchased by the vendor from a Romany couple at Kimbolton Green, Hertfordshire in 1973. The bow top roof was re-covered in about 1970, and the beautifully carved and painted bodywork and undercarriage, finished in gold leaf, is varnished. The interior is also untouched, with original curtains and weather sheets in good condition, and the decorative paintwork well preserved. The original Queenie stove is included, as is a pair of shafts and a set of recently repaired steps. Fitted with a pan box, cratch, and cover at the rear, above which is the small bow window. On iron shod wheels with a screw handbrake, this is a lovely example of an open lot in original condition. Sold for £25,500.

Lot 25 – Hooded doctor’s gig by Morgan of London to suit 15.2hh and upwards. Finished in black with yellow ochre undercarriage, buttoned-back, black leather upholstery, and black leather hood. It has Morgan C springs with all original woodwork, recently restored by Richard Wheelwright. A very smart vehicle in show condition. Sold for £7,400.

Lot 40 – Wagonette/Omnibus built by McNaught & Smith of Worcester & London in 1877 to suit a single or pair. The body is painted black on a burgundy painted undercarriage, with Post Office red lining. The driver’s seat is upholstered in black leather and the interior is in buttoned green cloth, with green cloth covered walls and roof to the detachable top. A pole, shafts, swingletrees, and a coffin platform are all included. A very smart adaptable vehicle which is numbered 3572, and the date 1877 was found when re-upholstering the interior. The wheels have been recently refurbished and the undercarriage shot blasted and repainted. It was used during WW1 to transport wounded soldiers from ships to hospitals in Hull. Sold for £5,000.

Lot 639 – Mayhew side saddle, ‘The Lissadell’. Sold for £1,000.

Lot 975 – Free-standing harness horse by Whippy Steggall, Saddlers, London. Ex property of the Royal Mews. Sold for £940.

Lot 1633 – Pair of square lamps by J A Lawton with screw-in stems. Sold for £800.

The next Reading carriage sale is on Wednesday 25th October.