Bricks, Stones and Straw: Working Horses in Liverpool
- Peter Sleeman
15th February 2023
Working horses have been part of the story of Liverpool since its beginnings. The relationship between humans and horses shaped the economic life of the city until steam-powered railways and then motorised transport gradually took over. Trades and industries grew up around pack, draft and Shire horses, goods were brought in on horse trains, and the skills of carters, veterinary workers and farriers were passed on from generation to generation. In this book author Peter Sleeman examines the history of the working horse in Liverpool and Merseyside, concentrating particularly on the work of the carters, drawing on original documentation of one carter from West Derby in the nineteenth century, an ancestor of the author. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries Liverpool’s trade grew and its population rocketed, and the carters and their horses were vital in transporting goods from the docks in Liverpool and Birkenhead and the newly built railways. Draft horses were an everyday sight on the streets into the 1960s, working into the night in all weather not only at the docks but in the markets and other transportation duties around Liverpool and Merseyside. The work was hard but once a year their service was celebrated in the annual May Day Parade where the drivers and their horses paraded in their finery through the streets of Liverpool – a tradition that continues to the present day.
Bricks, Stones & Straw: Working Horses in Liverpool takes the reader on a fascinating exploration of the vital role that working horses have played in the city through the ages.