Bath Chair from Harrogate

Contributed by Royal Pump Room Museum Harrogate

Bath Chair from Harrogate

This was one of the last bath chairs to be available for hire in Harrogate. It dates to the 19th century, but was in use until 1931, when the owner Mr H Robinson retired. It could be pushed by a man at the back and the passenger could steer with the handle at the front.
Bath chairs were used to carry visitors around the spa town, from their hotels or lodging houses to the spa buildings. They could be hired like a taxi. The bath chair men gathered at a rank to wait for customers. You can still see one of the small huts where they would have sheltered on the Stray in Harrogate. Mr Robinson probably operated a number of chairs as this is marked number 2. He would have employed other bath chair men to push and pull them about.
Bath chairs were invented by James Heath of Bath in around 1750. They grew in popularity and by 1830 had replaced the sedan chair as a means of transport around towns.
For journeys over greater distances in the late 19th and early 20th centuries people could hire a Coventry chair. This had a bicycle attached, which was pedalled by the operator.

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