A new exhibit for the Sandstone Heritage Collection, a Boer War Scotch Cart.

Father and son, Harry and John Illsley, who donated the BM Volvo tractor to Sandstone early in 2022, have now made another very special donation to Sandstone, a Boer War Scotch Cart.

Interestingly, according to various  online dictionaries, the name Scotch-cart is of South African origin and is defined as a small two-wheeled cart of southern Africa with a detachable or slanting panel at the back.

The name may have a connection with the design being thought to have originated in Scotland. With its Boer War military origin, this Scotch Cart will become a welcome addition to the Sandstone Military Collection.

John Illsley gave us the background to the Scotch Cart.

This Scotch Cart was used by British forces in the Anglo Boer War for general transport duties, ambulances and rather more grimly, to remove corpses from battle fields. This example carries the war office stamp on the axle and so was definitely brought to SA for this purpose. This cart probably spent the latter half of its working life on the farm Klimaks in the Memel district of the Eastern Free State. When this farm was purchased by Harry Illsley in the mid-1980s, the derelict cart was found opposite the farmhouse. It had been stored in the open and had deteriorated badly. Harry’s son, John used the remains of the cart to draw up a set of drawings that could form the basis for a full restoration. The cart was taken to the owner’s home in Honeydew, north of Johannesburg and over a number of years was completely rebuilt using all of the original ironwork and one of the original wheels. The other wheel had to have all the woodwork made up and was then assembled in the traditional fashion whereby the rim was heated white hot in a circular fire and lifted onto the wheel segments and cooled down to shrink the entire assembly. After painting in authentic colours, the cart was then returned to Klimaks farm where it was stored in an out building and was never used. When the farm was sold in 2022 to a neighbouring farmer it was decided to donate the Scotch Cart to the Sandstone Estate collection in order to ensure its preservation. The Scotch Cart was collected on 25th January 2023.

As per the agreed conditions of donation, the cart will need, in due course, to be repainted and a plaque attached.

“This 1890s Scotch Cart is a veteran of the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) having been used by the British Army. It was restored by Harry and John Illsley in the early 1990s and donated to the Sandstone Heritage Collection in 2023”.

Sandstone Heritage Trust extends its warmest thanks to Harry and John Illsley for the donation.

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