These albums are a small window to what could certainly be described as my long time passion for the collection, restoration and preservation of all things prams and strollers, both classic and modern. For many years of my life a piece of my heart has gone out for these wonderful little vehicles. Even as a child in the 1970’s, when other kids found old prams and began thrashing around the streets joyriding in them or launching them off embankments and stairwells until they were destroyed, I didn't want to be a part of the action. Instead, a part of me wanted to really save them, to have the chance to tinker with them and check out the different features of the different models and styles. I certainly had quite a childhood fascination for all that colour and chrome! It was also the combination of aesthetics, form, function and certainly the mechanical aspect and construction too. From the handle to the hood, the wheels to the weather covers, I was always interested in seeing the different styles, colours, features and configurations!. I can certainly remember checking out the mechanics and mechanisms on a few old prams and exploring how everything went together, opened and closed, and actually worked.
When I was a kid, just seeing a different looking model, colour or style being wheeled down the street would often stop me in my tracks! A heartfelt passion and interest that grabbed me at a young age.! Sure there was the tonka trucks and train sets, bikes and BMX. Loved it all! And later on it was dirtbikes and pouring money into cars! But realizing when I was younger that 'traditional' boundaries would be broken (well, kind of totally smashed really!) and the intense ridicule and criticism that would have no doubt come my way, I certainly felt the need to keep this interest to myself, and that is exactly what happened... for a very long time. But simple fact remains! The genuine passion to collect, restore and save these prams has always been there, it’s very much a part of me, and it's something that pretty much goes back to when I was knee high to a grasshopper (or maybe more appropriately, eye level to a pram hood!). For me (and as I’ve found through time, certainly many other like-minded pram passionate people in Australia and around the world), prams really are that special, emotive and precious little vehicle. After all, prams carry and protect the most precious cargo there is, the most special gift we can have in our lives, our own babies and children.
Local history came first
We used to have a very strong local pram manufacturing industry, with up to fifteen plus local brands all over Australia, some much larger than others. More industry history will be added in due course, but by the late 70's imported prams and strollers were taking a large slice of the pie and there were only a small number of local brands left. By the mid 80's it was pretty much all over for our local Aussie made prams and strollers, with many other nursery furniture lines disappearing as well.
I've always tried to save our original Aussie classics, our vintage Australian made brands such as Steelcraft, Cyclops, Barnes, Stork, Micklem and London (with "London" in Australia actually being the other local product, re-labelled and sometimes slightly re-trimmed exclusively for the former 'London baby carriages' retail chain in Australia).
These prams were hand built units, very sturdy, with wind and rainproof coverings offering excellent protection and comfort for the new baby through to toddler and beyond. The prams were well made and structurally quite strong, durable and certainly made to go the distance and withstand the rigors of daily (ab)use . Not many mums drove cars back then and the prams carried just about everything... certainly lasted well into child number two or three! I have some distinct memories of seeing some of those prams fully loaded with sometimes two kids in a single pram, one behind the other, and a third child propped on the vinyl hood AND a weeks worth of shopping in bags festooned from the pram handles and hood arms, swinging all over the place ! Try and do that nowadays with nearly anything modern and the pram would most certainly collapse or something would tear, break or fail within the first 50 metres!
From the low-mileage originals (including one-owner prams tucked away for 30-40+ years) through to the unloved and abandoned wrecks needing a new home and a little tlc, many prams have been saved and added to the collection over the course of time. The larger plan was to have a real life, museum-style physical display for some of these prams - a place to actually visit and see them, reminiscing the years gone by - An important slice of our daily Australian domestic past and social fabric, for all to see. The reality has been a collection that has outgrown its parental home and dry storage, so keeping these classics ‘timeless’ has been a real chore, if not an impossibility. It's cloudy and hazy times at the moment as to how I can move forward with this dream, but the passion to save these locally made prams (or any remnants from them) is just as strong today as it has been in the last 20-30+ years.
A sample of the vintage pram rescues, acquisitions and purchases can be seen here: vintage pram rescue
People power! - The memories, the passion & the stories
Lots of parents with lots of different stories! From the heartfelt, to the not-so-good, to the middle-ground.
Through the course of time (particularly in the last 20 years) the interest and moral support generated from both parents and grandparents alike has at times, been nothing short of overwhelming. It has been a real breath of fresh air meeting others who actually share the same passion and interest in saving these prams. I've lost count how many times people have opened up with some of their heartfelt memories and interesting stories relating to the ownership and use of their prams back in the day, and the memories this triggers for them. This is the type of feedback that really does keep the cogs turning and the dream alive. It truly makes up for the (more than) occasional naysayers, blank stares, strange looks and one-line comments that have come my way through time, due to the unusual nature of the collection.
"we just wanted our pram to go to a good home..."
Although prams and strollers may be just another mundane 'consumer product' in the eyes of most, there is certainly a large amount people out there who are quite passionate about their prams ( also the genuine collectors worldwide that take that passion to the next level again). So many parents and grandparents have kept and treasured their own child's pram or stroller through the years, as the pram was/is that one very special, emotive, sentimental and cherished keepsake item from parenthood that's so close to people’s hearts. Many of these parents/grandparents were hoping to eventually pass those prams down to the younger family members in the years and even decades to come. However, modern manufacture, changing styles and newer designs, safety changes/marketing and the all too common desire for the latest models and trends (in what has become a fashion lead industry) has meant that over time large numbers of these original and once treasured prams were finally no longer wanted and were just getting in the way. Certainly these parents/grandparents really didn't want their keepsake prams to end up in the wrong hands and be misused, damaged or destroyed, but, they didn't know what to do with them, where they could take their prams or who would even want them.
"We just wanted our pram to go to a good home".... this was becoming a common phrase heard over time. Unfortunately so many of these classic prams eventually did end up getting left outside to ruin, or parked on the kerbside waiting for the council garbage truck , and often just taken straight to the tip. Many more prams were destroyed through their 'second life' as paper-round (newspaper) delivery prams, and often the prams became a convenient 'trolley' to cart everything from collected firewood, potatoes to the farm shed and even bricks or rocks. Many more old prams were lost after being chopped up for the wheels and axles to aid with childhood billy-cart projects.
For many people that's just what you did with an old, unwanted pram. But as a passionate collector, pram saver and historian, just hearing those stories of what were once loved / sentimental prams eventually meeting untimely demises as listed above is quite heartbreaking and sad. This is particularly wrenching when people hear about you and your passion for preservation AFTER they have already disposed of their prams, one way or another... (insert the unhappy icon here).
Of course, not all the stories start off with 'passionate' pram-keeping grandparents either! I've met many people that couldn't wait to get the pram pushing years, and the pram itself - out of their lives, forever! And of course there are the folk who don't like prams at all...totally loathe them! (personally I find that a little sad, as we were all young once and the majority of us rode in one at some stage or another). Then there's the stories of how many siblings and how much stuff people can shove into and onto their prams, and how many miles they did with the prams loaded up to the hilt! Yep, I might need to refer to those stories as... the over-loaders! Not really passionate pram people by any means, but they liked the older stronger prams because of how much stuff they could throw at it (or load in it), and how durable they were. Yes, it's a wide demographic of people out there, and for most, prams and strollers are just that necessary 'consumer product' being nothing more and nothing less.
And lastly (but certainly not least) there's the stories of the grandparents giving their daughters & sons a very original pram, but the other grand-kids and siblings in the family ended up making a mess of things. (:
One particular story comes to mind, as the lady involved definitely showed a true passion and appreciation herself for a quality pram, and it sounded like she loved those locally made 60's and 70's Steelcrafts too. The more we spoke, the more you could tell she was quite fastidious and proud with the upkeep and care of the prams she once owned for her own children.
The stories and memories page can now be found in here
So, not all the stories you hear are 'peaches and cream'. But overall it's normally the pram passionate people out there who find my collection that go to the trouble of contacting me and sharing their stories and experiences.
Rolling with the times
Through the years I've seen the changing designs and styles with prams and strollers, watching the market slowly shift away from traditional larger and heavier prams. It has certainly been an interesting journey following this industry of pram evolution with a great passion, seeing the changing styles and latest designs evolve. As a collector and enthusiast I've always had an appreciation for better quality prams and strollers with well thought out designs and higher grade materials used in manufacture. Prams are indeed like cars, with so many makes and models, so many levels of 'equipment' or features and so many accessories available ranging from genuine 'factory' items through to the aftermarket add ons and extras. Yes, prams and strollers have a lot in common with cars!
Many brands, models and designs have been acquired through time, this includes better quality imported prams through to the modern age. The prams are often scrutinized with a careful eye, and in many cases, the better low mileage units just needing a little TLC have been cleaned and restored. This has covered everything from our home grown vintage prams right through to the higher quality European imported prams of the last two decades. The changes in design, functionality, safety, engineering and certainly the raw materials used in construction of these newer vehicles has been quite substantial compared to the traditional fixed four wheeled, sprung, heavy and somewhat "built like a tank" durability that came as a standard feature of the products from our past.
In the last fifteen years alone many of the better quality modern prams such as Emmaljungas, Peg Peregos, Silver-Cross, Jane, Maclaren, Brio and various other imported brands from around the globe have been purchased, saved and added to my personal collection. Some were new; many were secondhand prams in like-new condition whilst others needed some serious TLC and time spent to bring them back again. A large number of the prams have been photographed and cataloged where possible although there is still a large amount of material waiting to be sorted and added to this site in the future.
Reduce Reuse Recycle - Prams for families NOT landfill.
There is a genuine need in our Aussie communities for clean, safe and reliable prams/strollers, yet so many prams are continuously discarded out there for all the wrong reasons. One of the most common is stains/dirt/grime as some newer fabrics can be difficult to clean particularly with lighter coloured prams showing stains more easily (one thing that has never really changed much through time, kids can still be pretty messy and rough on their prams!).
I've personally recovered many grubby and dirty modern prams that were structurally sound, safe and complete - with nothing missing, broken or damaged whatsoever. Sometimes it can be simple things like one small broken component needing replacement and quite often (believe it or not) prams are dumped just because fabrics and styles that have just become ‘outdated’ (for some) and aren’t the latest fabric or as cutting edge as this years newest model.
Well, I can speak from real time experience here: there are plenty of new parents out there that genuinely need a pram and are NOT too concerned about this year’s fabric design! If a pram is still safe, functional and ticks the right ‘safety’ boxes (particularly known brands with a proven track-record for their durability and re-use potential) then I'm a firm believer that it should be recovered (saved), checked, cleaned, any small repairs attended to and then the pram passed on to a family that need it, will appreciate it and possibly even cherish it. One particular donation over 20 years ago changed my views on the status quo forever, you can read about it here .
We believe that unsafe, inferior or broken prams should be recycled more responsibly with an emphasis on possible parts re-use and/or raw material recovery. I have a large volume of data and research on this, but that's a discussion for another day, and another place.
A sample of the unchecked waste-stream problem can be viewed in Pram Rescue - recovery, re-use and re-homing of quality modern prams.
Help save our local history
To sum up, I'd like to encourage other collectors out there to keep on keeping on! It doesn't matter what your passion is, whether it's mainstream items like classic cars, motorbikes, books, BMX, bicycles, memorabilia, stamps or even fine wine! Or maybe it's something a little more obscure, and ignored by most...
With the loss of most of our local manufacturing industries in Australia, many items from the past (even ones considered mundane "consumer products" to most people) should be preserved and shown in some way, shape or form.
I take my hat off to other collectors out there that try to save a slice of our local manufacturing history, regardless of what your passion may be.
As for our Australian made vintage prams and strollers, well, these prams are an icon of our domestic past, a reminder of how it used to be, a real trip down memory lane. And like anything old, historical or collectible- when history is gone, it’s gone forever…
Wanted dead or alive!
Help needed to track down any remaining examples of the vintage double prams.
Do you know where there may be this style of twin pram lying around, in ANY condition? I've been trying to find this model of Steelcraft (Duet) side by side pram and other variants for many years now as the only example in existence was discovered severely damaged in the storage losses cleanup of 2008. Any finds or leads would be much appreciated, please contact me via the email below. Thank you