About the carriage collection

About The Schleswig Carriage Collection

The Carriage Collection is Northern Europe’s largest collection of horse-drawn carriages and sleighs, procured by the well-known bookseller Johannes Christian Nielsen from Haderslev in the years after 1952. The collection not only features vehicles, but also contains an extensive archive about carriages and the carriage factories in Haderslev, a book collection and some scientific documentation of the museum’s own reconstructions of old carriages.

The collection started when Johannes Christian Nielsen wanted to help the students with their traditional horse-drawn carriage ride after their graduation in 1952. At that time, the number of horse-drawn vehicles had thinned out with the rise in the number of motorised vehicles, which is why the bookseller advertised for a couple charabancs to help the students. A haulier named Tang offered him two charabancs on condition that he also took a hearse. These three carriages were the first to join the collection.

Nielsen soon realised that this part of Denmark’s transport history was in danger of disappearing. In 1954, Nielsen founded the “Committee for the Conservation of Old Horse-drawn Vehicles”, which contacted the owners of carriages asking them to hand over their old carriages to them instead of destroying them.
In 1954 and 1955, the first carriages of the collection were exhibited. The following year, the newly founded carriage collection was opened in a newly built carriage shed on Louisevej in Haderslev. The shed could contain 50 vehicles, and at that time the collection consisted of 38 carriages.

Johannes Chr. Nielsen was planning to expand the collection’s exhibition, but finances put an end to that, and in 1959 he was even forced to let his lease run out. By way of replacement, he acquired a plot in Pamhule woods, which was intended to be the new home for the Carriage Collection. However, it did not go to plan here either, and, for financial reasons, the large carriage building was built out of recycled timber. The shed could contain 100 carriages, but at that time the collection consisted of 300!

From 1962 – in addition to carriages – hand tools, business signs, drawings and photographs were collected, which would help shed light on the cultural background of the vehicles. The goal was to save what could be saved in time.
That same year, the doors opened to the Nordic region’s largest collection of carriages in Christiansdal. But the growing collection soon outgrew its premises, and the conditions in the new building proved far from ideal. The dream of the big museum broke down, and the building came to serve as a place to store the carriages only. For a number of years, parts of the carriage collection were exhibited at Egeskov Castle.

In the 1970s, it became difficult to raise funds for the carriage collection. Several museums opened their own carriage collections, so Nielsen was no longer the only one to disseminate the connection between horse and carriage.

Things took a turn for the better again in 1974 when Haderslev Municipality bought the old riding building at the harbour. Haderslev Tourist Association suggested that it should house the Carriage Collection. In 1977, the first funds for the refurbishment of carriages were granted, and that same year, Johannes Christian Nielsen offered Southern Jutland County the land and building in Christiansdal, including the carriage collection, for DKK 144,000. On 6 February 1978, the county council approved the proposal. The collection would now be managed by Haderslev Museum, which assumed responsibility for the ongoing registration and refurbishment of the carriage collection.
On 6 June 1978, the official exhibition of the Schleswig Carriage Collection officially opened in the Old Riding Building.

In 2002, the opportunity arose to move the Schleswig Carriage Collection to an even better setting. Schaumanns Klædefabrik (clothing factory), where the carriage collection is housed today, provides storage facilities, a workshop and the exhibition of carriages and crafts. The large premises in the historic factory building contain around 110 vehicles in the exhibition, while the 70 or so others are stored in the cellar or are out on loan.