Virtual Exhibit No 6: Park Drag at the Royal Pump Room Museum in Harrogate (UK)
Park Drags were vehicles in which to ‘see and be seen’. They came into regular use in England during the 1860s, and were large coaches drawn by a team of horses, with provision on the roof for additional seating. Privately owned ones were usually held by the wealthiest class of society and used to drive friends to country picnic and to sporting events such as cricket matches and horse races, where they made excellent grandstands as passengers were guaranteed a good view.
In 1872, a business partnership between two Harrogate men, George Mackay and John Fowler, led to their opening a carriage works on York Place. The Park Drag shown here was made in Harrogate in c.1873 and used to entertain spa visitors at the racecourse which was then located on Harrogate’s Stray.
You can see how the carriages were used in a famous painting by the Harrogate-born artist William Powell Frith (1819–1909), Derby Day (1856-58, Tate Gallery) which shows people crowded on top of Park Drag on a busy race day at another English spa: Epsom. https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/frith-the-derby-day-n00615
The Park Drag has been part of the Harrogate Museum collection for thirty years, yet due to its size it could not displayed within the museum. But it has recently been moved back to Harrogate and put into temporary storage whilst curators seek an opportunity for it to be displayed to the public.
Curator: Karen Southworth