The History of Baby Carriages

From Ornate Pony-Drawn Carriages to the Aluminum Stroller

The baby carriage was invented in 1733 by English architect William Kent for the 3rd Duke of Devonshire's children. It was basically a child's version of a horse-drawn carriage. The baby or child sat in a shell-shaped basket atop a wheeled carriage. The baby carriage was lower to the ground and smaller, so it could be pulled by a goat, dog, or small pony. It had spring suspension for comfort. They became popular with upper-class families.

By the mid-1800s, designs substituted handles for parents or nannies to pull the carriage rather than using an animal to draw it. It was typical for these to be forward-facing, like many baby strollers in modern times, but the child's view would be of the rear end of the person doing the pulling

Crandall's Baby Carriages

Toy manufacturer Benjamin Potter Crandall marketed what he called the first baby carriages manufactured in America in the 1830s. His son Jesse Armour Crandall received patents for many improvements including a brake, a folding model, and parasols to shade the child. He also sold doll carriages.

Charles Burton Invents the Pram

American Charles Burton invented the push design for the baby carriage in 1848. Now parents weren't draft animals. They pushed the forward-facing carriage from behind. The carriage was still shaped like a shell. It wasn't popular in the United States, but he was able to patent it in England as a perambulator, which would ever thereafter be called the pram.

William H. Richardson and the Reversible Baby Carriage

Black American William H. Richardson patented an improvement to the baby carriage in the United States on June 18, 1889. It is U.S. patent number 405,600. Instead of a shell shape, the basket-shaped carriage was more symmetrical. The bassinet could be positioned to face either out or in and rotated on a central joint.

A limiting device kept it from being rotated more than 90 degrees. The wheels moved independently, which made it more maneuverable. Now a parent or nanny could have the child face them or face away from them, whichever they preferred, and change it at will.

The use of prams or baby carriages became widespread for all economic classes in the 1900s. They were even given to poor mothers by charitable institutions. Improvements were made in their construction and safety. Going for a stroll with a child was believed to have benefits in providing light and fresh air.

Owen Finlay Maclaren and the Aluminum Umbrella Stroller

Owen Maclaren was an aeronautical engineer who designed the undercarriage of the Supermarine Spitfire, retiring in 1944. He designed a lightweight baby stroller when he saw that then-current designs were too heavy and unwieldy for his daughter, who was a new mother. He filed for British patent number 1,154,362 in 1965 and US patent number 3,390,893 in 1966. This was the first use of aluminum tubes for household equipment.

He manufactured and marketed the baby stroller through the Maclaren brand. It was a popular brand for many years.