Murgon Men’s Shed president David Mollenhauer with the restored four-wheel “Doctor’s Buggy” donated by Graham Wilson to the Shed for restoration

October 22, 2021

A six-month restoration of a “doctor’s buggy” by the volunteers at the Murgon Men’s Shed has brought memories flooding back for a local farming family.

Three years ago, Graham Wilson, then 88, spotted a display of items at the Wondai Show which had been restored by the volunteers.

He offered to donate his father’s old buggy to the Men’s Shed.

Men’s Shed president David Mollenhauer said Graham said he had never actually ridden in the buggy, which had been stored on the family’s property since he was a child.

When it arrived at the Shed, it was in poor condition – rusty and covered in chicken and rodent droppings.

“It took some time before this venture could be started as other projects were already being worked on,” David said.

“Also, the COVID closure hindered progress.”

The restoration project took about six months.

“Four wheels had to be rebuilt and new shafts installed. The rust was treated and wood repairs required, as well as painting,” David said.

“The upholstery was attended to by Rick at Memerambi.”

Graham and his family were invited to come along to the Men’s Shed on Wednesday to inspect the finished project.

Shed member, Spike Butler, from Hivesville, brought along a horse … and the handsome black buggy was ready again to take to the road.

Spike took three generations of the Wilson family for rides up and down Macalister Street.

* * *

Spike Butler, right, took Graham Wilson for a ride in the restored buggy on Wednesday (Photo: David Mollenhauer)

Graham shared his memories of the buggy when he handed it over to the Men’s Shed members for restoration:

My father, Graham Gilmore Wilson, bought this buggy some time between 1908 and 1912. I cannot give the exact date or the make.

When it is cleaned up properly, there should be a brass plate with that information on it. It had rubber tyres on the wheels and in its heyday, was a very smart vehicle, with side carbide lamps, but it did not have a hood.

Dad had a very smart buggy horse named “Clip”. Apparently he was a very good type of horse, fit to be a show hack. Dad said that if he had been entered in a show as a hack, he would have been sizing the judge up while he was being judged.

Dad was living at ‘Tarong’ at that time and would take the buggy to Brisbane with “Clip”. I don’t think that he drove it down, probably drove to either Jondaryan or Esk and put the outfit on the train.

My mother, who was training to be a nurse at the Royal Brisbane Hospital between 1910 and 1914, had become engaged to Dad during that time. He would drive up to the hospital to take her out in his rather smart outfit. The other nurses would think it was one of the consulting doctors coming, because most of the doctors had smart outfits like that.

Mind you “Clip” was an eye-catching horse. Dad was riding him down Stanley Street, Brisbane, one day and a man standing on the footpath called out to him, “By jove young fellow, that is a fine looking horse, you don’t see too many like him these days!”.

Below our house there is a gully, the Half Mile, and in those days there were a lot of waterholes in it. Most have silted up now.

When Dad wanted to give the buggy a good wash he would drive “Clip” into a hole, probably about 3 feet deep, wash the buggy and drive out. “Clip” would just stand there, up to his belly in water.

When Mum and Dad got married they still had the buggy as transport, mostly just going in and out to Kingaroy, or to visit their friends.

Once when Dad was taking Mum out in Brisbane, he stopped in Queen Street and left Mum in the buggy holding “Clip”, while he went into a shop. Apparently she was terrified, as she was not used to horses and was afraid of them. She need not have been, a bomb going off would not have frightened “Clip”.

When my eldest sister was born in late 1917, the buggy was a bit small for the three of them, so Dad bought his first car, a single-seater Buick, which as far as the seat was concerned, was not much bigger than the buggy, which was then slung up under the ceiling in the garage, which had been the buggy house.

I cannot think of anything more to tell about the buggy except to say that we are glad that it has found a new home where it will be restored to its former self and looked after.

I know that my Mother and Father and “Clip” would be happy, as well.

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2 Responses to "Old Buggy Creates New Memories"

  1. Damien Tessmann  October 23, 2021

    This is a terrific story! Well done to the Murgon Men’s Shed for their efforts here. And reading through the effervescent Mr Wilson’s memories I can absolutely hear his voice in the back of my mind as I go.

    Reply
  2. Bouncer  October 27, 2021

    This story brings back memories to me of my grandmother telling me how she and her husband used to drive a horse and buggy down Parramatta Road in Sydney. She told how they used to have to stop at railway crossings. As a child it was hard to imagine, considering how Parramatta Road was perhaps the busiest road in Sydney.

    My grandparent had a large plant nursery with glass houses etc. They grew orchids for the local and export markets. Unfortunately, the Great Depression wiped then out as far as having a thriving business went.

    Well done, Murgon Men’s Shed guys, for all your hard work in bringing the past back to life.

    Reply

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