Memories of Calderdale

Road Transport: Between the Wars


Geoffrey Siddall

Such was the difference in transport between the two wars, that I cannot recall seeing many of the horse and carriages which were so much in use until the advent of the motor car.

The upper and middle class had started the drift to the motor car, by adopting the quality cars being made by an increasing number of small manufacturers.

By the early thirties the mass-produced cars had started to slow down the growth of these firms, as the prices started to drop to levels which made the quality cars appear ridiculous.

The British-built Ford 8 offered for a short time at £100, gave exceptional value, and set the goal for most of the aspiring mass-producers. Most of the main manufacturers offered cars in the £100 to £200 price range. My recollection of the 1930s is that the professional classes, who would normally have had to have personal transport, such as doctors, were quick to change to motor vehicles, to avoid the expense and inconvenience of a horse and trap. While there were still many horse and carts for goods, I saw very few horse and traps.

Because of the hilly terrain, single horse coal wagons had to struggle with steep hills, and many lanes still have a series of large stones set into the lower parts of walls, so that the wheel at one side can be backed to rest on the stones, to give the horse a short rest

One wagon operated by Sowerby Bridge Industrial Society, was a four-wheeled vehicle set out as a mobile hardware shop, which operated on a weekly basis. The flat of the wagon and the shelter built over, was festooned with brushes, pans, yellow scouring stones, soaps, and almost everything that the housewife would require. I think it also offered paraffin in bulk, people used to fill bottles etc.

One thing that would be immediately noticed by the modern housewife, is that there was no items of plastic. Many items would be relatively expensive, because they would be handmade, so they had to last. I remember the wagon working the streets up Sowerby New Road. The horse working hard to tow this festooned wagon up the steep road

© Malcolm Bull 2021
Revised 10:26 / 30th May 2021 / 3903

Page Ref: M_14

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