The first gigs were built around 1780; these were simple two-wheeled light vehicles drawn by a single horse and seating two people, though driving tandem – one horse in front of the other, became popular later. Towards the end of the 18th Century their name became synonymous with cheap and roughly made vehicles.
Some gigs were so roughly built that the seat was little more than a plank of wood without even the refinement of a cushion. If the vehicle cost less than £12 to buy the tax was only 12 shillings a year, but the more stylish gigs, as well as other two wheeled vehicles, were obliged to pay the standard tax of £3-17 shillings a year.
However later types of gig such as the Dennet, Stanhope and Tilbury were of a far superior level of construction and far more elegant, reinforcing to some degree the standard of the gig as a desirable vehicle. Gigs were mainly used by businessmen or commercial travellers and rarely by ladies, who worried about being referred to as ‘fast’.
The Dennett Gig was said to have originally been made by a Finsbury coachbuilder named Bennett (somehow the B became D). It’s name is also attributed to the three dancing Dennett sisters as there are three sets of springs; one crosswise and two lengthwise. The Dennett is an English gig of the early 1800’s used for general transport in the town and country. Like all gigs it is enclosed at the back with luggage space under the seat.