Is it a buckboard?

Cobb+Co Museum has always wanted a Queensland buckboard, and we think we have one… By Jeff Powell, Curator, Cobb+Co Museum The American buckboard was about as simple a four wheeled vehicle as it was possible to build. They looked like someone had taken a section of picket fence, attached a wheel in each corner and placed a seat on top and halfway back. Comfort was … Continue reading Is it a buckboard?

The convict who got Australia’s wheels turning

Australia’s first wheelwright* was Hugh Hughes, a convict with the First Fleet in 1788.

He was the only wheelwright in the First Fleet so Hugh would have been kept very busy. Wheelwrights had to have the eye, skill and accuracy of cabinetmakers, but it was also a very laborious trade requiring strength and endurance. Hugh Hughes would have soon discovered timbers in this strange land were much harder than any he encountered in England.

There was no powered machinery at the time to saw and dress the ironbark, blue gum and stringy bark. Every timber component Hugh made was split, sawn, chipped and shaved with wedges, pit saws, adzes, axes, draw-knives and spoke shaves. Even the lathe that turned the wheel hubs was hand powered. Hugh, like country wheelwrights in Britain, probably even felled the trees he needed.  Yet Hugh Hughes was not making the big wheels, carts and wagons we might expect.

Continue reading “The convict who got Australia’s wheels turning”