For Shingle Creek pram collector Lesley McGregor (60), the
first piece in her collection was a necessity - she was
pregnant with son Duncan. That was in 1980, she was living in
Invercargill and the second-hand Pedigree Airstream was only
It was not until she was given an old cane pram in the late
1990s that her collecting really begun.
Now, with 60 prams worth about $35,000, she has turned a room
of her and former All Black husband Ash McGregor's house into
a museum to display her collection.
''They are a very large part of our social history, and I
figure if you don't look after them, then they are gone,''
Her oldest pram dates from the early 1800s - a cane basket
with wooden wheels and a fabric hood which was rotted when
she bought it. However, she managed to piece it back together
enough to take a pattern and then recreate it, though that is
not something she likes to do.
''I try to keep everything as original as possible.''
That one cost her about $450 at auction in Dunedin.
The prize for most expensive pram though goes to an $800
circa 1890 mail cart made in Dunedin.
Despite the title, it was not used as a mail cart, the name
came about because it had two handles, like the mail carts
used in Victorian England.
''That was because all the early prams, up until about 1906,
were all made by carriage companies that also made horse
carts and so on ... then in the early 1900s pram
manufacturers started specialising in making prams.''
Though she has tried to research the history of her prams,
she has found that difficult due to the lack of information
in New Zealand.
''There's only one book in New Zealand that I have found.
It's by an English author but is held in the National
''England has quite a bit of information because there are
quite a few collectors over there.
''I know of some others in New Zealand that have prams but
they are usually doll collectors that use prams to display
their dolls. I don't know of another collection in New
Zealand of this size.''
Mrs McGregor is not a doll collector but does own quite a few
- she places them in the prams, dressed in the kind of
clothes babies would have worn in the corresponding era.
Though her museum is no great money earner - she charges only
a gold coin entry fee - she does get quite a few interested
people, especially over long weekends and holiday periods.
''I've had bus tours come through from a retirement village
in Mosgiel and Probus ladies from Dunedin, Balclutha and
She has also had people borrowing prams for baby photos, for
productions and, once, for a film.
Over the years, she has done a few parades and events with
her prams including the Alexandra Blossom Festival and the
Ranfurly Art Deco Festival.
A lot of the prams had been given to her by people who knew
she was a collector while others had been bought at auction
''I keep my ear to the ground.''
Though there is barely room to walk between the rows of prams
in her museum and there are more prams outside, Mrs McGregor
said she could not imagine giving up her collection, which
spans almost 200 years of pram history.