The Boston

Perambulator
1920-1929 (made)
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Temporary Exhibition, room 38
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Prams are such a familiar sight that it is sometimes difficult to remember that they have not always been available. Perhaps the biggest difference between the modern product and its predecessors is the emphasis on comfort and safety. Present day versions have to conform to legal safety requirements and often come with harnesses and safety leashes, whereas the 18th and 19th century pushchairs often lacked even a simple brake or straps, and were deplored by reformers such as Pye Henry Chavasse in his book 'Advice to a Mother' (1839) as much for their lack of safety as for their unsuitability for young babies who needed to lie flat (not catered for until the introduction of the wicker bassinet prams in the 1880s).

"...The child, while being borne in the nurse's arms, reposes on the nurse, warm and supported, as though he were in a nest! While, on the other hand, if he be in a perambulator, he is cold and unsupported, looking the very picture of misery, seeking everywhere for rest and comfort and finding none! ..."

Chavasse's argument, on the other hand, does not consider what would happen to the child if any kind of accident happened to the nurse.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Wood, metal, leathercloth, rubber compound
Brief Description
Perambulator, for a baby, wood and metal, PM brand, made in England, 1920-1929.
Physical Description
Baby's perambulator/ pram with a low-slung deep body of wood painted black; the side panels have decorative curvilinear mouldings. The bed of the pram is made up of three removable buttoned (on one face) upholstered cushions covered in black leathercloth. The folding hood is of black leathercloth, with metal fittings, and is edged with two-tone brown braid in a greek key pattern. The handle has a black lacquered horizontal bar between two S-shaped side pieces of chromium which fasten to the underside of the body.



The pram is suspended from C-springs by leather straps fastening with metal buckles. It has two pairs of ball-bearing metal wheels with metal spokes and tyres of rubber compound; the mudguards are painted black. There is a fitting between the bars of the handle for the attachment of an apron. The foot-operated metal brake is horizontal in action, moving from right to left to prevent the pram moving. A matching umbrella-holder is attached at one side of the handle.
Dimensions
  • Maximum (hood up) height: 120.75cm
  • Maximum width: 64cm
  • Maximum length: 123.25cm
  • Wheels (including tyres) diameter: 30.5cm
Production typeMass produced
Marks and Inscriptions
  • 'THE / "BOSTON" / NORWICH' (At one end of pram. Possibly name of style plus place of manufacture. According to Norfolk County Museums, W.G. Boston and Co. of Orford Hill was one of the major pram retailers in Norwich during the early 20th century, so the pram may have been a model exclusive to them, and they may even have owned PM Prams themselves.)
  • 'PM / PRAMS' (On metal fitttings attaching hood to pram, presumed brand name)
Object history
Bought from Jacqueline Burnett, pram collector. A docket dated 22/07/2008 was attached to the pram when she acquired it: this related to the hire of a pram from Superhire, 55 Chase Road, London NW10 6LU by the BBC for the children's television series 'The Sarah Jane Adventures', presumably for series 2 which aired that year (one episode, 'The Temptation of Sarah Jane Smith' featured a pram, but it was much later than this one). As the pram was previously part of a group, it is not known whether the docket relates to it or to another.
Summary
Prams are such a familiar sight that it is sometimes difficult to remember that they have not always been available. Perhaps the biggest difference between the modern product and its predecessors is the emphasis on comfort and safety. Present day versions have to conform to legal safety requirements and often come with harnesses and safety leashes, whereas the 18th and 19th century pushchairs often lacked even a simple brake or straps, and were deplored by reformers such as Pye Henry Chavasse in his book 'Advice to a Mother' (1839) as much for their lack of safety as for their unsuitability for young babies who needed to lie flat (not catered for until the introduction of the wicker bassinet prams in the 1880s).



"...The child, while being borne in the nurse's arms, reposes on the nurse, warm and supported, as though he were in a nest! While, on the other hand, if he be in a perambulator, he is cold and unsupported, looking the very picture of misery, seeking everywhere for rest and comfort and finding none! ..."



Chavasse's argument, on the other hand, does not consider what would happen to the child if any kind of accident happened to the nurse.
Collection
Accession Number
B.699-2010

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record createdJanuary 20, 2011
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