Five-year global search results in rare water cart on display at Good Old Days Festival

Clancy Paull with his rare British WWI water cart on display at the Good Old Days Festival at Barellan. Image Kim Woods 

A rare British World War I horse drawn water cart restored after five years of diligent research made its debut at the Good Old Days Festival at Barellan.

Owned by Clancy Paull, an antique shop and old-time photography business owner at Glenrowan, Victoria, the water cart is the only restored model of its type in Australia. 

A former Furphy collector, Clancy moved into restoring military water carts in line with his passion for World War I history and embarked on a five-year global search for all the parts before completing the two-year restoration project in 2022. 

The British water carts were manufactured from 1914 to 1918 at a cost of 80 pounds and deployed to all theatres of war. 

The restored water cart was part of the Barellan Furphy Festival display of rare cast iron ends, taps, memorabilia and rebarrelling demonstrations at the Good Old Days Festival. 

Clancy started with the tank and steel bands, and found an axle after five years of research.

He had Canberra wheelright Mark Burton, restore the steel rimmed wooden wheels fitted with brass hubs.

Clancy used the internet to track down 150 pages of detailed measurements for the water cart design, and also drew on historic photographs.

“I don’t know how many hours I have put into it but has cost me $17,000 and I still haven’t finished it – I need to find a particular hand pump as there are none in England. You never know if someone has one in their shed,” he said. 

“I had to make a lot of the steel work, brake pads and change the British threads to Australian as the 100-year-old parts are not made anymore. 

“Every battalion had two water carts which travelled with the soldiers. In Gallipoli the Australians had the HV McKay Lawton water cart but when they were deployed to the Western Front, the British insisted on using their water carts as standard.

“They cost 80 pounds to make and were given a lifespan of six weeks on the Western Front (compared with horses at four weeks and soldiers in the trenches three weeks).”

Their limited life span in the trenches has led to few surviving parts today. The cart has a capacity of 110 gallons (416 litres) and is valued at around $45,000. 

A first-time exhibitor at the Good Old Days Festival, Clancy has gone on to source another three barrels from British water carts, along with the WWI military harness, back saddle for riding and driving, and leggings to protect the soldiers while riding one of the horses between the shafts. 

In the past he has restored more than 20 commercial delivery horse drawn wagons, has collected up to 65 Furphy water cart cast iron ends and makes steel wheels for jinkers at his Glenrowan workshop. 

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