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Sedan Chair

Mitchell Library, Glasgow Collection

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Sedan Chair

A drawing of a sedan chair and bearers, copied from a print by W P Nimmo, Hay & Mitchell.

The sedan chair was invented in France and was introduced to Britain in the 17th century. It consisted of a leather covered box carried on two poles, and proved invaluable to rich people travelling to social gatherings in their finery, in the days when there were no pavements and the ground could become very muddy under foot.

According to tradition, Glasgow's sedan men were often Highlanders. There were sedan chair stances at Union Street, West Nile Street and Drury Street and their fees were fixed by the city's magistrates: in 1798 they included a minimum hire charge of sixpence and fares of 1 shilling from Bridgegate to the University; 1/3d from the Cross to the Gorbals; 2 shillings from the Gorbals to the Cathedral and 9d to travel from the Cross to Jamaica Street. The fee doubled after 1 am, except on assembly and ball nights, and a child carried in the passenger's arms was entitled to travel free of charge. The sedan chairs were gradually replaced as "people carriers" by horse-drawn "noddy" carriages. The final survivor of the sedan chair era appears to have had an office in Drury Street, referred to in the PO Directory in 1848.

Reference: GC 941.435 OLD

Reproduced with the permission of Glasgow City Council, Libraries Information and Learning

assemblies, balls, sedan chair bearers, sedan chairs, streetscenes

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