Vintage Pram Fan

For Fans of Silver Cross and all Vintage Prams

Posted by Lucy On November - 21 - 2017

A few years ago I was fortunate enough to be given a tour of the factory in Yorkshire where Silver Cross coachbuilt prams are manIMG_6138 IMG_6120-2 1960s baroucheufactured.  It was so interesting to see how a pram is made and I thought you might be interested in knowing more.

Coachbuilt prams were made by various manufacturers in the UK until about 30 years ago and gradually as the market for traditional prams lessened they stopped manufacturing them until only Silver Cross is left.

In their heyday coachbuilt prams were made by skilled craftsmen and women. Each company had its own model designs and for each one a mould was made. The side panels were cut out of metal and pressed into moulds which had the design and shape of the pram on them, the parts were then clamped together and the corners welded to form the carriage part of the pram.

IMG_6138

Before the pram body was assembled the panels were painted,  they were given two undercoats and two topcoats, which were sprayed on. Each coat was stove hardened by an infra red stoving process. The bodywork was stoved for a final time before being assembled and when it entered the huge “oven” it was dull but when removed the paintwork had a beautiful shine.

For prams which were two tone colours the body was sprayed first then the main part was masked, leaving the area for the contrasting colour visible and this was then sprayed. Where the two colours met, the edges were blended in by an artist who carefully painted along the join lines.

If the pram featured a painted design this was also handpainted, I think the most intricate example of this is the Barouche, made by Silver Cross, and featuring a coach and horses on the side panel. The photo below is not very clear of the design but unfortunately I don’t have a close up. (picture  courtesy of Silver Cross).

1960s barouche

Coachlines were also painted on by hand, using a brush known as a sword liner, this takes many hours of practise before a perfect coachline can be done as it requires a steady hand. On my visit  I was shown a demonstration of this process, it looked so easy but when I tried it myself it was a lot more difficult!!!

The whole production process used to be carried out by a team of people who each worked on separate sections of the prams. For example, the assembly department would be packed with stacks of pram bodies ready to be assembled together, tyres were put onto the wheels and they were then tested to make sure they were durable. Pram beds used to be hand made but with the advent of detachable chassis prams the beds were mass produced, the bed units were put into the prams and attached to the metal body panels.

Hoods and aprons were hand sewn and this was done at the Silver Cross factory mostly by female workers. To ensure these women could work without having to worry about childcare a creche was opened on the premises.That must have been a wonderful place – all those beautiful prams for the babies to take naps in and no doubt a few dolls prams to play with too! What a great company to work for, and I know this was true as I have spoken to many past employees who all spoke of happy times working at Silver Cross, an iconic company but now sadly the old factory has been demolished and housing now stands on the site at Guiseley in Yorkshire, the pram manufacturing taking place elsewhere now.

Categories: Silver Cross

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