1900 Kirkland Pram Restoration
This diary follows the restoration of a 1900 Victorian pram which I won on ebay in mid summer 2008.
Jackie Burnett kindly collected the pram for me as it was in Hull and close to her home. This was a great excuse to go and visit Jackie to collect the pram and see her "old ladies" - which was a real treat!
This is how the pram body looked when I brought it home, it wasn't sitting on the chassis because the straps were not present. Before I started work my assistant had to make sure Quality Control was in place!
Norman took one look at the wreckage of the pram and shook his head! "You'll never get this one off the ground!" he said, but that was just a red rag to me, I could see the potential in the pram and they were built to last in 1900 so I wasn't worried by his comment!
This pram was built in Bilston, West Midlands in 1900 by a firm called W A Kirkland, Cabinet Makers. In those days when you wanted a pram made you consulted a catalogue which itemised the different components of the pram, such as type of hood, body shape, decoration, handle design, chassis design etc. When you had decided on the design you then placed your order with a firm who could put all these components together and very often this firm would be carpenters or cabinet makers - people who worked with wood.
The wheels are in a dire state but are very heavy so there would have to be an awful lot of rust damage to make them unusable
Norman removes the castle nuts with an adjustable spanner - an absolute must when you are tackling something of this age!
We used an old serrated knife to remove the tyres, which usually works a treat but in this instance we were outdone! There was a thick band of steel running through the rubber tyre so although we may think we invented everything the Victorians were way ahead of us, yet again!! Everything we took apart was of exceptional quality and up to the minute design
Unfortunately some of the photos I downloaded have disappeared, I know not where!
I can just hear you saying it - "Oh my God - look at the rust - she must be nuts!"
But this was a pram of quality and as I said before, it was made during a period in history when there was pride in British engineering. When Norman took the spokes off the hubs and dismantled the hub shaft it actually had two ball races (rings holding ball bearings) on the shaft - absolutely no expense spared in any of the little details. As you can see they haven't aged at all, they still have the grease on them from the last time they were taken apart!
When I first saw the pram on ebay I imagined it painted in a deep red livery with brass fittings so I had a word with Kirk who does my rechroming and asked him if he could brass the bits and pieces. He said he couldn't do them with a brass coating but could do them with a very pale gold which looked like brass, so I took the handles, the hoodarms, the four hubs, the hubcaps and loads of screws and nuts and bolts. When I collected them last week I can't tell you how pleased I was with the result, he had done a wonderful job - judge for yourself....
Hoodarms after...................>I'm afraid I have been rather busy of late, trying to do a hundred and one jobs with the deadline of Easter Sunday!
However I did manage to finish restoring this pram but unfortunately I didn't manage to document the assembly and take photos so you will just have to forgive me. However I have a photo for you to see of the nearly finished pram. I still have some final touches to carry out and also some small chips to attend to after stapling the lining to the body and then finding out a couple of staples had come through the side of the beautifully sprayed body! I had intended to do a buttoned footpad and head pad but in the event I didn't have time. I will maybe attempt to make some changes in the future as the hood hasn't been lined yet and there are some chips to be touched up.
This was a particularly pleasant restoration, possibly because it's my own and possibly because it has turned out just as I had envisaged.