The Lane Cove Men’s Shed is incredibly proud of their work in restoring a Sulky purchased by Carisbrook House.
Lane Cove Historical Society Acquires a Sulky
Some time ago, the Lane Cove Historical Society acquired an old cart, or sulky, dating from about 1920.
It needed repair, and the Society is very grateful to George Tax and his Lane Cove Men’s Shed colleagues for the wonderful restoration they have done.
They removed it from Carisbrook Historic House’s grounds and took it to the Men’s Shed where they could work on it.
Sulkies and carts of many kinds were no doubt commonly a part of Lane Cove in the past, and the original owners of Carisbrook Historic House likely used such vehicles.
In bringing this sulky back to life, the Men’s Shed has done us all a service as they have enabled us to see an aspect of life in Lane Cove’s past.
The Restoration Process
Over a period of about two or three months, the Men’s Shed lovingly restored the Sulky. That involved taking the sulky apart and replacing some sections of damaged timber.
George said that the timber in the wheels was in a very good state of repair and it was clear that in the past the vehicle had been carefully maintained, though it had deteriorated over time.
The seat was in poor shape, and that needed careful repair.
Having taken it all apart and repaired, or in some cases replaced, sections of the timber, the men then put it back together.
The paint was very faded. An important aspect of the restoration was that George and his colleagues restored the sulky to its original colours, which are predominantly green and a bright red.
The vehicle now stands protected on one of the porches at Carisbrook, and as the photos show its colours look lovely against the warm sandstone of the house.
What is a Sulky?
According to the NRMA:
“A sulky is a light two-wheeled vehicle, so-called because it had space for only one passenger — the driver — who necessarily sat alone.
A ‘more sociable’ version, which could accommodate two people, was developed in Sydney in the mid-1880s from a vehicle imported from San Francisco. This Australian version became known as the ‘Sydney sulky’.
From the beginnings of the depression in the late 1880s, the sulky was said to have become ‘the most popular vehicle in Sydney’. In 1895 a visitor to the Royal Agricultural Society’s Sydney Show commented that, ‘No Sydney display of vehicles would be complete without a large representation of her most popular vehicle, the sulky’.
At the time, the sulky was ‘the cheapest form of a horse-drawn passenger vehicle on sale in Australia’.
Until the 1920s the Sydney sulky remained extremely popular being ‘sold in parts or complete by coachbuilders’ suppliers to the trade and public’. Today, sulkies still feature in carriage driving and harness events.” Read more here.
What is Carisbrook Historic House?
Carisbrook is a survivor of a time when the land around the Lane Cove River was a world away from Sydney Town. Built in the 1880s from locally quarried sandstone, the house sits handsomely overlooking Burns Bay on the east and the Lane Cove River to the west.
The Brooks family built the house on land owned by their family since the 1850s. It remains the oldest surviving house in the area, its fabric largely intact. This wonderfully preserved house transports its visitors back to the foundation days of early Lane Cove. Its asymmetrical facade, large bay window, and low-pitched slate roof are characteristic of the Italianate style, a very fashionable architectural style of the Victorian period.
Carisbrook was retained in the Brooks family until 1904, when the family left Australia to live in South Africa. Since then, it has passed through several owners’ hands until it was purchased in 1969 by the Lane Cove Council as a gift to the Lane Cove community. A permanent conservation order was placed on the house by the Heritage Council of NSW in 1981. It is now maintained by the Council and curated by the Lane Cove Historical Society Inc.
It is open once a month on the weekend – a must-do activity for families. Look out for the open weekend dates on In the Cove.
Lane Cove Men’s Shed History
The Lane Cove Men’s Shed was pivotal to the Men’s Shed Movement. Below is an extract from the Men’s Shed History Page.
“One of the early Sheds was the Lane Cove Community Men’s Shed that opened on the 8 December 1998. After a few months, the Shed sponsors (North Sydney Region of UnitingCare Ageing) recruited Ruth Van Herk as Coordinator. Because at that time there was little knowledge of Men’s Sheds, it quickly started receiving queries about how Sheds operate, how to start one and, because they were keen to help and pass on information, Lane Cove soon became a resource centre for new Sheds. The networking and contacting was carried out by Ruth and the technical and practical experience provided by Ted Donnelly (a founder member of the Shed)”
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