Museum Collection: Wooden Horse-drawn Ambulance

Ambulances are a relatively new invention, having been created towards the end of the 19th century. Before then, police, firefighters, and taxi drivers would staff their vehicles with wheeled stretchers – or “litters”, as they were known – in case they were called to take an ill or injured person to the nearest hospital or doctor’s surgery- a duty they kept sharing until full-time ambulance service was established around the turn of the 20th century, years after ambulances had been invented.

The horse drawn ambulance at the Dundee Museum of Transport was built in 1884 for around £100, which is over £12,00 in present day money. It carried one “litter”, and it served for almost forty years in Aberfeldy as a fever ambulance until 1920, when it was last used to take an appendix patient to Perth Royal Infirmary.

It then spent the following fifty years as a henhouse before being restored by the Scottish Ambulance Preservation Society, with help from the craft department of Kirkcaldy Technical College. To celebrate its restoration, it was paraded along the harbour front of Kirkcaldy and put on show in the High Street. There were no available horses on the day, so they had to use a Land-Rover to pull it!

The SMT (Scottish Motor Traction) Company held the ambulance in its showroom on Victoria Road, in Kirkcaldy, before moving it to the Grampian Transport Museum in Alford. It was thereafter transferred to Dundee Museum of Transport and has been on permanent display since the museum opened in 2014.

Overgate exhibition photographs added to website

A collection of 24 photographs from our extremely successful exhibition at Overgate, Dundee on 2 June 2012 has now been added to our Event photos 2012 section.

This event not only marked the official launch of our new exhibition trailer but allowed us to display many new exhibits acquired and restored by the Museum.

We were also delighted when The Lord Provost’s Youth Parade made a detour though our Overgate display and some photographs of the parade are included in our gallery.

Many thanks to everyone who attended on the day and continue to help us as we strive to open a permanent Transport Museum in the former Maryfield Tram Depot.

Keeping you in the picture

New and updated images have now been added to our website.

In our Exhibits section the Horse-drawn ambulance and Ashford Litter collection features new exterior and interior pictures along with some more of the Ashford Litter.
In our Events photos 2010 section images of the actual Scottish Cup parade from Dundee’s Hilton Hotel to City Square and Tannadice have also been added.

Horse Drawn Ambulance (now that’s clever – how did it hold the pencil?)

On Wednesday 9th of June 2010 an intrepid team set off from Bonny Dundee heading to The Granite city to Reclaim a relic of Dundee’s past for our Museum. Or was that an Insipid team?

Anyway we got there and trailered back a horse drawn Ambulance dating from the 1880s. It is in not too bad condition considering it had been left out in the elements for the past two years with only a torn tarp for protection.

We have spoken today to the Conservators at Dundee Museum and they will come to offer us advice on it’s Restoration.

More images can be viewed in our Exhibits Gallery.