Historical information

A spring cart is a two-wheeled, one-horse cart, often with the driver standing up to drive it, and otherwise seated on a simple seat. Carts like this one had springs to make the ride smoother. It is a lighter version of a farm dray and is sometimes called a spring dray. Spring carts were often used on farms for carrying loads. In the towns, some businesses used a spring cart for deliveries of bread, milk and other goods. The carts would be used for travel and for families going on outings and picnics.

Visitors to Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village from 1986 to 1992 would enjoy watching a Clydesdale horse named Duke as he worked around the village with his driver Pat McGowan. He would be hitched to a wagon or to this lightweight spring cart or sometimes he would pull the wagon with the cart attached as a trailer. The cart was used for maintenance, carting loads of timber or stone around the site or from town to Flagstaff Hill. Sometimes Duke and the cart would take visitors for cart rides around the Village.

Pat McGowan was known for his restoration of horse-drawn vehicles including this spring cart. He already had 40 years of horse handling experience when he began looking after Duke, feeding and harnessing him and driving the horse and cart around the Village. Pat’s dog ‘Yabbie’ would often join them. In August 1992 Duke had to be put down. Warrnambool Veterinary Clinic and other fund-raisers began well-supported appeals and the beloved horse was replaced by a Clydesdale also named Duke (the second), who began work in late October 1992. He, like his predecessor, had a quiet temperament and was comfortable in the traffic.


The spring card is an example of vehicles used on farms, for business delivery and for domestic transport in the late-19th and early-20th century. This cart is of note for being associated with the Clydesdale horse Duke which pulled the cart around Flagstaff Hills in the 1980s and 1990s, representing transport of that period.

Physical description

Spring cart; two-wheeled cart with shallow box tray and plank seat bolted across the front. Wheels have metal rims and fourteen (14) wooden spokes. A plank is bolted from side to side. A decorative metal step is on the cart's left and has acorn cut-out shapes in the plate. Both wheels have a brake block that is operated by a lever on the cart's right. The cart has eight-leaf suspension from front to back. The box tray is painted blue and has decorative pale yellow detail. Each shaft pole has has a handle fitting on it. (Horse equipment with the cart is a leather covered, straw filled collar.)