Coach and Wagon works – The Historic Tradition

Large table-top waggons made by James Bennett of St Marys
Penrith City Library Photographic Collection ©

Virtually no research of any kind has been carried out in this field of industrial development. Jeans, in his study on communications in the colony, discusses the development of the Cobb and Co. company from the 1850s. This company relied on American designed coaches (1). He makes the point that, from the 1880s, the role of coaches in transportation was eroded due to the increased availability of rail transport.

“But 1897 saw the writing on the wall for horse transport…motor vehicles meant… the demise of the many coach-building firms spread widely through Australian country towns.” (2)

Buchanan notes that the craft of the wheelwright was usually associated with the waggon makers industry. The wheelwright

“…often worked on his own and supplied wooden wheals as required. The cutting of axle stock, the shaping of the spokes and the task of assembling these within the section of the rim was a highly skilled occupation. The final process of shrinking a red-hot wrought iron rim on to the wheel would often be performed in co-operation with the village smith.” (3)

The Extended Data Base
There are no known sites of this category.

Coach &Waggon Works – Archaeological Impact
There has been no research in this area to determine the types of site functions which were common to the industry. It is, therefore, impossible to assess the impact that such an industry would have had on the archaeological record.

It may be assumed from graphic evidence that most sites had at least one large shed and some outbuildings and that heavy machinery such as forges and anvils were common place. The smithing aspect of the industry presumes that distinctive-deposits of ash and charcoal would have accumulated around the site and could be recognized in a stratigraphic sequence. Some source of water must have been available for use by the smith.