A Cart For All Seasons

As part of our collection of farm vehicles we have what is known as a hermaphrodite wagon or morphrey. Hermaphrodite wagons were most common in Lincolnshire, where they were referred to as a morffrey. Technically speaking a wagon has four wheels and a cart two. Generally wagons were used in the south and east, carts in the north and west.

Hermaphrodite Wagon

The hermaphrodite can serve either as a cart or a wagon as required. Usually it served as a cart for most of the year, but at harvest time, when every available vehicle was needed, the front pair of wheels and the carrying frame were added. It could then take as big a load as a wagon. It had a single shaft at the front when operating as a cart, which then acted as the pivot point when the additional pair of wheels were added.

Showing attachment of front wheels of wagon

Our particular example was built by Buxton & Co Wheelwrights of Long Clawson, near Melton Mowbray, in 1928. The makers mark is stamped on the staves ‘BUXTON LONG CLAWSON’. This wagon was used on the donor’s farm at Teigh on the edge of Rutland. It was used by F. C. Morley from 1928 to 1957 and came in to the Museum by way of the Bolton Collection in 1968.

Cart section, which can tip when operating as a cart.

MERL at Reading have a very similar hermaphrodite wagon which was built in 1910/11 at Tetford in Lincolnshire and cost £20.

Forward upper shelf used during harvest time.