When writing about the types of baby strollers, I mentioned how carriages were reminiscent of the original baby carriages, and thought it might be interesting to add some info about the history of baby strollers and carriages in general.
About 4 centuries ago, baby carriages were considered a luxury item, not the necessity we see them as today. If you weren’t an aristocrat, you didn’t have a carriage. You hauled your children around in your arms.
In 1733 the Duke of Devonshire commissioned William Kent to create a conveyance for his children. The outcome was a well sprung, shell shaped carriage that could be harnessed to a large dog. When they sat up straight and were pulled along, it was similar to them being in a horse drawn carriage or buggy. When the Duke’s contemporaries and peers across Europe heard of it, they had to have one for their children as well.
A little over a 100 years later, Queen Victoria ordered 3 carriages, firmly affixing them as a status symbol for the times. If you were a somebody, part of the so called polite society, you had to have a baby carriage. It didn’t matter that they weren’t all that functional, and they certainly weren’t safe. They sat much higher than what we are used to today, and could easily unbalance and fall over – with the child in it.
But that would soon change.
About 50 years later, William H Richardson patented a safer, more functional version, and we still see a reflection of his ideas today. Remember, the first baby carriages resembled a horse drawn carriage, so the children faced forward. Mr Richardson however, designed a carriage that was reversible, due to a center joint that allowed the bassinet part to be turned forward facing or rear facing.