A passion for vintage prams

2008-04-02 00:00

Christine Basson of Merrivale has an unusual passion: she collects vintage prams for babies and dolls. “I clearly remember sitting in a pram with big wheels when I was a baby. I was one of the 10 Le Roux children who grew up in a house on Victoria Street. There were always prams around because we were so many children. Perhaps that is where my interest was sparked,” she says.

Basson began collecting after major brain surgery in 2003. “The surgeon warned me that I needed to hang on to life as the surgery was very risky. I wanted to see my unborn grandchild so I held on to that and it helped me survive.” Her first pram, a coach-built Marmet manufactured in England in the 1900s, was a gift from her daughter. “I had seen that pram and wanted to buy it but the owners would not sell it. After my operation my daughter begged them to sell it because it symbolised my survival and my unborn grandchild.” Since then she has acquired more than 20 prams.

Basson says she looks for prams wherever she goes, especially in second-hand shops. “I found two dolls’ prams just lying in the veld near our home. Some have come to me by word of mouth.” With the help of her husband, Wouter, she cleans the prams and restores them, guided by pictures she finds on the Internet. “We do not restore them completely. If you do too much work and replace too many of the old parts they lose their value.”

Basson has a Bilt-Rite model manufactured in the United States in the 1960s and two English Pedigree models that are 40 or 50 years old. She also has two coach-built prams manufactured by the English company Silver Cross. This type of pram is associated with English royalty and upper classes where nannies are still common. They have become popular with international celebrities such as Victoria Beckham, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Sarah-Jessica Parker and Angelina Jolie.

Basson would like to collect more prams, but recognises that storage space could become a problem. “As it is I no longer have a lounge! I am really not sure why I am passionate about prams, perhaps it’s because before everything else, I am a mother,” she concludes.

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