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Display of carriages an added attraction in Pilgrim’s Rest

Frieda Paton

A number of horse-drawn carriages have been put on display around Pilgrim’s Rest, further adding to the back-to-the-past atmosphere. If you’ve ever had difficulty picturing the buggy in which the heroine of the novel was being carted off, this problem can now be solved by a visit to the historical village.

Nine antique horse-drawn carriages and an ox wagon had been in storage at the old Ponieskrantz Stables for nearly three decades. They were originally procured by the Department of Public Works Roads and Transport (DPWRT) of the old Transvaal Administration. The idea was to add to the heritage experience by providing tourist rides through town.

This, however, proved unpractical as the roads were no longer the dirt roads of the past. The tar was slippery for both the narrow carriage wheels and the shod horses – especially with all the steep hills in the village.  Only the beautiful black Studebaker Surrey was sometimes used for weddings.

Being in storage, the vehicles were at risk of deterioration, damage, and theft. As Pilgrim’s Rest Museum Services is responsible for heritage conservation, and the carriages are in fact heritage objects, they approached the DPWRT in 2016 to obtain the vehicles on loan.  In the end, it was agreed to transfer these assets to Museum Services.

The first of the vehicles were moved to the Central Garage Transport Museum in Uptown at the end of 2018. After careful assessment of suitable locations, the remainder of the carriages and the ox wagon have now been put on display around town

You can closely examine a spaider on the veranda of the Royal Hotel MRTT and the buggy and ox wagon at Clewer Store. A charming Model ‘T’ wagonette stands on the veranda of Scott’s Café – one can just picture the family piling for a picnic on the river bank.

The Central Garage Transport Museum is one of the five village museums included in the ticket available at the Information Centre.


Caption: Studebaker Surrey (The Izzer)


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