Victorian London - Childhood - Babies - Prams



Sir, - I beg leave t draw the attention of the public (I was about to say police) to one of the now existing nuisances. It is that of perambulators. You cannot walk along without meeting several of those novel vehicles; and, as their name implies, they "walk through" the foot-passenger; for you must either go fairly off the pavement or suffer the more pleasant sensation of having your corns (if you are accompanied by those agreeables) run over.
    If it were a truck of apples, instead of children, the police would interfere. Why not in this? Apologizing,
I remain yours respectfully,

The Times, October 20, 1855

see also Charles Manby Smith in The Little World of London - click here

... then came the nursemaid with what we called the "push-along" : the word perambulator had not then been heard [in the 1850s, ed.]  : bearing a couple of smaller children, while old Nurse staggered after us bearing the "long-clothes, the name of derision we always gave to the latest arrival. The "push-along " was a most uncomfortable vehicle, and consisted of a narrow seat covered with American leather or some such substance; it had a wheel on each side and one very small one in front, and the tall handle at the back was used to push the miserable thing. There were no cee-springs, no india-rubber tyres, but all the same we regarded the "push-along" as some folks do their motors nowadays, and we had great joy when the autumn came, for new shell gravel was laid down then, and we took turns to drive the vehicle over the beautiful shells. The lovely noise we made when crushing them is still in my ears when I write, and I can still smell the opening chestnut burrs and the dying leaves when, leaving the sea-shells, we foraged about for the great brown chestnuts, which we carried home and made into necklaces, or ground up into a hideous compound, called flour, out of which we made cakes for the long-suffering dolls.

Mrs. Panton, Leaves from a Life, 1908