Pony Bath Chair, owned by Queen Victoria, 1893.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The bath chair was invented by James Heath of Bath in about 1750. It was intended for use by ladies and invalids, and became very popular during the Victorian period, when it was primarily used at seaside resorts. It superseded the sedan chair as a form of transport in 18th and 19th century Britain. Queen Victoria's version, built by Cheverton on the Isle of Wight, differs from the common bath chair in that it was pulled along by a pony led by a footman instead of being pushed from behind and steered by the occupant. Another footman walking behind could activate the brakes on the rear wheels by means of a handle located behind the hood. It was very low to the ground in order to make entry easy for the queen, who by 1893 was old and infirm.