Charabanc or Charabang

1914 Ford Model 'T' Charabanc
1914 Ford Model ‘T’ Charabanc by kenjonbro (Celebrating 60 Years 1952-2012), CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The term Charabanc (not Charabang as I thought) comes from the French char-a-bancs, for a “carriage with wooden benches.” The simple design included rows of seats in the body of a horse drawn carriage or open toped bus which all faced forward. A driver perched on a seat in the front, or rode in a separate carriage which was often pulled by a team of four. Typically, no covering at all was installed over the riders.

This new form of mass transport started in the 1840’s but reached its heydays in the 1920-30’s. It brought locations to the reaches of the masses not universally popular (a bit like today I guess).  In ‘Sleeping Murder‘ Agatha Christie wrote …’ There used always to be a lot of summer visitors as long as I can remember. But nice quiet people who came here every year, not these trippers and charabancs we have nowadays. A Miss Marpleish comment if ever there was one.

I had this great picture from the National Railway Museum at York and wanted to write about Charabancs. The first information I found was about Doncaster St Georges ‘Charabang’ tour of Retford a couple of years ago was done in style.

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Some people may remember the old Charabang song from coach trips to the seaside and rugby matches:-

“There were three Jews from Jerusalem”


There were three Jews from Jerusalem.

There were three Jews from Jerusalem.

Jerry jerry jerry – slam slam slam

Jerry jerry jerry – slam slam slam

The first Jew’s name was Abraham.

The first Jew’s name was Abraham.

Abra abra abra – ram ram ram.

Abra abra abra – ram ram ram.

The second Jew’s name was Archibald.

The second Jew’s name was Archibald.

Archie archie archie – balls balls balls

Archie archie archie – balls balls balls

The third Jew’s name was Isaac.

The third Jew’s name was Isaac.

Issa issa issa – cack cack cack

Issa issa issa – cack cack cack

.

They went for a ride in a charabang.

They went for a ride in a charabang.

Chara chara chara – bang bang bang

Chara chara chara – bang bang bang

They went for a ride to Amsterdam

They went for a ride to Amsterdam

Amster Amster Amster – damn damn damn

Amster Amster Amster – damn damn damn

They drove o’er the edge of a precipice.

They drove o’er the edge of a precipice.

Preci preci preci – wee wee wee

Preci preci preci – wee wee wee

.

And now we  have to finish it.

And now we  have to finish it.

Fini fini fini – sh sh sh

Fini fini fini – sh sh sh

And now we  have to finish it.

2 thoughts on “Charabanc or Charabang”

  1. Thank you for publishing this – my dad has a slightly different version being a Navy man,and has only just sung it to me for the first time tonight. He being almost 80 & me now being of mature years myself!!

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