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Wheelchair - Wood & Metal, 1943 Object Reg. No: SH 921893

Alternative Name(s): Invalid Chair

Wood and metal wheelchair. Used in Albert Park, Victoria, Australia & Oakleigh South, Victoria, Australia, circa 1943 - 1982.

Purchased by the donor's grandmother in 1943. The donor had caught polio in December 1937, aged seven, and had spent several years in hospital. She attended the last two years of primary school and three years of high school in the chair, and used it until 1982, when she obtained an electric chair. She rode in the chair three miles to High School along suburban roads - her sister used to ride on her bike with her hand on the back of the chair. It was much adapted to use.

The wheelchair has been much altered. It was made by an invalid who was making invalid chairs out of bicycle parts. The handle originally had a black wooden handle; the bar has been replaced. Original tyres have been re- placed many times, and the chain is probably not original. The seat was originally sprung with coil springs and canvas. The back has been shortened.

The maker of the wheelchair was not identified at the time of donation. However, in 1944 an advertisement in The Argus offers 'INVALID Chairs, chain-driven style, adj. self-propelled or new cane, any design to order, repairs, types, &c., Govt. registered manufacturer, 77 Edinburgh St., Burnley.' The occupant of the address at that date was a Miss Cath Morrissy.
A wooden and metal wheelchair with rubber tyres, propelled by the movement of a handle rotated by the passenger's right hand. The wooden chair with a wooden back has been upholstered with brown vinyl, tacked on the edges. The stuffing is of foam. The right hand handle is linked with a bicycle chain to the wheel, to provide the motive power. There is a handle operated by the passenger's left hand which provides steering direction and braking power? A smaller wheel with a rubber tyre is at the back; it assists in steering. There is a wooden rectangular "shelf" behind the seat to allow the cartage of small items. The chair is well-worn - the padding on the right arm-rest is especially worn, while the wood is polished from long use.
Acquisition Information:
Donation from Miss Lorraine Simpson, 1992
Discipline: History
Dimensions: 89.00 cm (Height), 66.00 cm (Width), 114.00 cm (Length)

More information

Tagged with: polio poliomyelitis, disabilities
Themes this item is part of: Domestic & Community Life Collection, Medicine in Society Collection
Primary Classification: MEDICINE & HEALTH
Secondary Classification: First Aid
Tertiary Classification: mobility aids
Place & Date Made: Burnley, Victoria, Australia, 1943 or later
Place & Date Used: Albert Park, Victoria, Australia, 1943-1982
References: Notes taken by the Curator when the wheelchair was collected are in the Supplementary File.

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